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‘Atlas’ shunned


To take from one, because it is thought that his own industry and that of his fathers has acquired too much, in order to spare to others, who, or whose fathers have not exercised equal industry and skill, is to violate arbitrarily the first principle of association, "the guarantee to every one of a free exercise of his industry, and the fruits acquired by it."
     Thomas Jefferson to Joseph Milligan, 1816

Listening to Vin and one of the co-producers of the movie “Atlas Shrugged, Part 1” on the radio with Alan Stock on KXNT Monday evening, I chuckled at one of Vin’s comments, borrowing from the old movie trailer hype: “Ripped from the headlines.”

Yes, though Ayn Rand’s book was published in the 1950s, it envisioned a past/future (New Deal, Great Society, Great Recession) in which the central federal government calls all the shots — who can build what where, subsidies for this but a ban on that, unequal taxation, social justice, class warfare.

As Vin pointed out on the radio, and in his Sunday blog posting, the movie has been met with disdain by the professional reviewers, but embraced by the movie-going public. At last check the website Rotten Tomatoes has 8 percent of reviewers liking the flick, while 85 percent of the audience liked it. Fandango had a similar dichotomy.

It turns out the guerrilla marketing that Vin, that’s Vin Suprynowicz by the way, described in his Sunday column is working. According to a booking service, the film grossed $1.7 million the opening weekend on 300 screens. It cost $10 million to make.

For those wondering whether to invest a couple of bucks from your meager paycheck or an hour and a half of your time, I’d say it is worth it, just so parts 2 and 3 can be made. The movie is less an adaptation of the book than a visual editing. I went back and reread several scenes and in the book and found they matched closely with the dialog in the movie — editing for length (it is a 1,200-page book) and to let the actors convey the nuances Rand had to describe.

Take the confrontation with the railroad union boss from the book:

“Well, it’s like this Miss Taggart,” said the delegate of the Union of Locomotive Engineers. “I don’t think we’re going to allow you to run that train.”

Dagny sat at her battered desk, against the blotched wall of her office. She said without moving, “Get out of here.”

It was a sentence the man had never heard in the polished offices of railroad executives. He looked bewildered. “I came to tell you …”

And the scene from the movie:


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