This weekend was a great weekend for me. The two hours where I watched Atlas Shrugged Part One completely overwhelmed anything else that I did. I promised my listeners a review and this is my reluctant review. Reluctant, not due to a lack of excitement, more due to a fear that I will be unable to do the movie the justice that it deserves.
A review I read by Jack Hunter called Atlas Shrugged Part One “one of the best mediocre movies you’ll ever see”. If you have not read the book and simply want to see a “blow-em-up” movie, this is not the film for you. If you have not read the book but are an activist for capitalism, this could be your kind of movie. In other words, this is not a “date movie”, not a “chick flick”, and I doubt that Michael Moore will be singing the praises of this movie any time soon.
If you read the book by Ayn Rand and loved it, you will love this movie. I will start my opinion, although there may be some spoilers…
A review that I read railed the creator of this film for using “no-name actors“. Although Angelina Jolie and Charlize Theron may have been “wooed” for the role of Dagny Taggart, Taylor Schilling did a great job. Also I didn’t think of other roles she had played while I was watching the film. The character of Dagny was written as a highly confident being, confident due to her own intelligence, drive, and dedication. She is portrayed as a great human being. Great human beings employ their intellectual ability to create the values on which human life depends. Dagny is written as a character that is cold and aloof to the average looter and Taylor Schilling plays this part well.
Some of the secondary actors were mediocre in their portrayals, but that simply means they didn’t match the character I had in my mind.
Some other things which were going through my mind as I watched this film? Well, the main one was sadness. I wasn’t sad because of the state of the movie, I was sad because of the state of the world in which this movie takes place. As I saw the occasional “dazzling” smile as a result of a job well done, all I could do was think of the despair which would soon consume this society. As I watched legislation overpower business, as I watched states taxed for their underprivileged neighbors, as I watched all incentive for people to work hard be eliminated incrementally it was all I could do to keep from screaming at the screen: “It’s only going to get worse! This is just the beginning!”
When I left the theater I was quiet, truly quiet, for some time. My mind kept replaying the anguished scream of Dagny Taggart (one which a companion of mine mocked but it brought tears to my eyes). When reading a fictional book it is easy to become engrossed. You build the character in your mind and you associate the philosophy to the aspects of life you deem appropriate. When a good movie is made from that fictional book you immediately transfer actions and philosophy from that book to the new image of the character you now have. When I heard that scream from Dagny Taggart (Taylor Schilling), a scream filled with raw pain and frustration, I was unsure whether I would be able to watch the second film in public. I will have a difficult time watching the world beat up on the movers, that is sure.
My final statements?
Watch the movie, read the book, do it in whichever order you feel necessary, but do it all the same.
Products I want to see (as capitalists they should totally go there):
The cigarettes, you know the ones:
He produced a package of cigarettes and extended it to her […] It was a plain white package that bore, as a single imprint, the sign of the dollar […] There was no printing on the package, no trade name, no address, only the dollar sign stamped in gold. The cigarettes bore the same sign.
I would love a pack of those…
The bracelet symbolizes the value created by Hank Rearden’s long struggle to invent Rearden metal. When he gives it to Lillian Rearden as a present she says, “It’s fully as valuable as a piece of railroad rails.” However, Lillian fully grasps the significance of the gift; her snide remark is her way of denigrating her husband’s ethos.
Lillian wears this bracelet at a party thrown on her anniversary. She makes fun of it all night long, and when Dagny Taggart hears Lillian say she would gladly trade it for a common diamond bracelet, Dagny takes her up on it.
All in all, I liked the book better, the movie was a bit rushed (believe it or not). However the movie was rushed due to necessity and short attention spans (be honest, you have one). I will be purchasing the movie on DVD as soon as it is out, but the book will still hold a higher place in my heart.