Attempting to Turn Ayn Rand’s Love Letter to Capitalism and The Battle of the Individual vs. The Collective into a Three Part Movie
This is probably obvious; if you are a fan of Atlas Shrugged you will want to like the movie Atlas Shrugged: Part I. If you are unfamiliar with the book or not a fan you will watch and make your decision about the movie on the most important components; story, acting, cinematography, sets, and music.
So does it work? How can you turn a 1,171 page book into the first part of a serialized one hour and forty minute epic?
The answer is, it is not so simple.
For fans of the book, there is satisfaction in seeing Rand’s story finally told on the big screen, as they see the parallels of the 1957 novel with real life events that are currently occurring. They will be happy that this work has finally been brought to the big screen and done in a competent manner on a small budget and tight time deadline.
Those who are not fans will watch and try to decipher characters without understanding the motivations. They will see a cast trying very hard to give life to complex characters from a book which cannot be explained in a few minutes of screen time. Some stretches of dialogue seem somewhat wooden. Taylor Schilling puts in a solid performance as Dagny Taggart and Grant Bowler is convincing as Hank Rearden. The best performance is Michael Lerner’s evil government character of Wesley Mouch who seems to have studied up on Barney Frank.
The cinematography, costumes and sets are good and the musical score works most of the time.
Will the movie impart the main idea to people that have not read the book? Ayn Rand succeeded in getting her message across to readers because it is in book form. The book conveys things that cannot be shown on a screen in just under a couple of hours .
The story moves along at a decent pace and will keep viewers entertained to a certain degree. The individual vs. collective message will resonate with some moviegoers, but I’m afraid others will just see it as one greedy group of government people suppressing other groups of greedy business people. That’s not what Rand intended.
The fact is that as a stand alone movie it does not work as well as it could have. Had the script, time and budget been there, maybe it would have been better as a four to six hour epic in the mode of Gone With The Wind, Once Upon A Time in America or Erich von Stroheim’s Greed.
The inherent problem is the this film is preaching to the choir. The regular movie-goer who is not a fan of Rand’s work will not enjoy Atlas Shrugged the movie. There is supposed to be an Atlas Shrugged part II and part III. Reality is if the general Audience Shrugs, there will be no sequels, leaving a movie that concludes with a lot of unanswered questions, never to be answered.