Review Atlas Shrugged The Movie Part I

Hubby and I saw Atlas Shrugged Part I on Friday morning at it’s first showing in Tulsa. I expected we would be the only live bodies in the audience, but the theater, not the largest – more medium in size, was half-full. By the time we left, it was full. The audience was mostly Seniors who had probably read the book many years ago, but never forgot the stark message of government regulation. I did see young adults there as well.

I’ve read no other reviews, on purpose, although I do see that Morrissey at Hot Air has one. I last read the book May 2010, the only time since the original read in the mid-70’s. I loved it the first time around.  The second time around I was able to appreciate the message of a free economy being destroyed by those in the highest office of the land, with the help of lobbyists, but was irritated by the dialog that seemed ‘silly’ at times, such as using the term “I know it,” over and over.

The movie repairs the dialog. That’s a good thing. The movie is exceptionally well-done, especially on a low budget. It manages to convey the vast sweeping scale of Atlas Shrugged – something I wasn’t sure they could pull off. The acting is very good and visually, it is a stunning movie and so far, it is faithful to the book.

As in another mammoth epic, Gone With the Wind, the characters are not as well-developed as they are in the book. The sheer creepiness of Jim Taggert hasn’t shown up yet, although my husband, who hasn’t read the book, felt he was sufficiently creepy. I feel Jim Taggert will give himself away in Part II. You don’t see the fathomless strength of Dagny as much as in the book, but again, hubby thinks she is sufficiently strong.

Ayn Rand said her book took place in both the present and the future, but then in an interview she said she always thought of it as about 10 years after publication, which was 1957. The movie is set in 2016, and that seems entirely appropriate. The overwhelming misery of the cities, industry and technology suffering or failing to meet “equal opportunity” regulations, private property needing to serve as a public use, an Anti-Dog-Eat-Dog rule, and people living in the streets, is just beginning in Part I. If Part II can convey even a portion of the destruction and folly at the hands of fools, as does the book, it will be a visual you won’t forget.

Dagny Taggert at Rearden's Wedding Anniversary Ball

Ayn Rand’s Dagny Taggert is impossibly beautiful. She was uber-long and lean. Her clothing always adorned her, rather than the other way around. The book rhetoric describing Dagny stayed as vivid throughout as it did as Rand first introduced her. I think Dagny Taggert must have been the woman Ayn wanted to be. Here is how Dagny first appeared in the book:

She sat at the window of the train, her head thrown back, one leg stretched across to the empty seat before her. The window frame trembled with the speed of the motion, the pane hung over empty darkness, and dots of light slashed across the glass as luminous streats, once in a while.

Her leg, sculptured by the tight sheen of the stocking, its long line running straight, over an arched instep, to the tip of a foot in a high heeled pump, had a feminine elegance that seemed out of place in the dusty train car and oddly incongruous with the rest of her.

She wore a battered camel’s hair coat that had been expensive, wrapped shapelessly about her slender, nervous body. The coat collar was raised to the slanting brim of her hat. A sweep of brown hair fell back, almost touching the line of her shoulders, Her face was made of angular planes, the shape of her mouth clear-cut, a sensual mouth held closed with inflexible precision. She kept her hands in the coat pockets, her posture taut, as if she resented immobility, and unfeminine, as if she were unconscious of her own body and that it was a woman’s body.

If Rand had known Ann Coulter, I would swear she used her body as a model for Dagny.

Hank Rearden (Grant Bowler)

In the book, Hank Rearden is a man with a steely self-sanctioned integrity. He is honest and immovable in his convictions – you’re sure he has a Rearden Metal rod running from his hairline straight through to…somewhere. In the book, when he and Dagny get together (much slower than in the movie), you feel if he had leather straps to flagellate himself with, he would have done so. He loathed himself and this is how he handled it with Dagny just after their first night together:

What I feel for you is contempt. But it’s nothing, compared to the contempt I feel for myself. I don’t love you. I’ver never loved anyone….I wanted you as one wants a whore – for the same reason and purpose. I spent two years damning myself, because I thought you were above a desire of this kind. You’re not. You’re as vile an animal as I am. I should loathe my discovering it.. I don’t. Yesterday, I would have killed anyone who’d tell me that you were capable of doing what I’ve had you do. Today, I would give my life not to let it be otherwise, not to have you be anything but the bitch you are. All the greatness that I saw in you – I would not take it in exchange for the obscenity of our talent at an animal’s sensation of pleasure….

You see none of Hank’s aloofness, reserve or struggle to stay away from Dagny in the movie – just not enough time, I guess.

Ellis Wyatt (Graham Beckel) at far end of table

Graham Beckel, the brother of Democrat Bob Beckel, the ridiculously partisan strategist on Hannity far too often, plays Ellis Wyatt, the owner of an oil company. He says, as a conservative in Hollywood he is shunned – no one speaks to him. He said the job offers stopped when he also began appearing on Hannity. What a shame. It’s Hollywood’s loss. The guy is very good.

I hope you will see the movie and imagine what can be ahead in a world of Government, Lobbyists and Czar-ly power. Oh yeah, we don’t have to ‘imagine,’ do we?  The message is riveting, perhaps more so in this day and time than when it was written, and I’m not saying a word about “Who is John Galt.” I’m looking forward to Parts II and III, but have seen no estimated release date for II. I’ve just read the review at Hot Air. It has a lot more detail than mine. Read it here. Here’s the movie trailer.

Atlas Shrugged the Movie, Part I Trailer (video)

Linked by The Camp of the Saints who has yet to see the movie (but has plans) and can lead you to other reviews.

Karen at The Lonely Conservative, and her husband, saw the film and they liked it. Take a look at her review.