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Atlas Shrugged


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#81 M. Leary

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Posted 22 April 2011 - 08:29 AM

A movie about super trains in the American West in 2016? Unlike when the book was written, these days that is the very thing that Barack Obama is proposing – with government subsidies – and conservatives are currently opposing for good reason. Super trains don’t work in the Western states economically.


They don't? I am not tracking with his point here.

#82 Christian

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Posted 22 April 2011 - 09:08 AM

A movie about super trains in the American West in 2016? Unlike when the book was written, these days that is the very thing that Barack Obama is proposing – with government subsidies – and conservatives are currently opposing for good reason. Super trains don’t work in the Western states economically.


They don't? I am not tracking with his point here.

I can't speak for Simon, but I think he's reiterating what people of all political stripes have been saying for some time: rail travel makes economic sense only in densely populated areas like the Northeast, where, if I'm not mistaken, rail operations still lose money, or maybe break even.

#83 Persona

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Posted 22 April 2011 - 09:31 AM

The four-hour Amtrak between Grand Rapids in Chicago is always packed. I'm much more a fan of commuting this way rather than driving. You have a bite to eat, sit back, watch a film, fall asleep, and wake up at your destination. College kids love this method too, the train is stuffed with open laptops and iPods.

#84 Christian

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Posted 22 April 2011 - 11:57 AM

Spectacular takedown of the film and the person and philosophy behind it from Mike Gerson.

None of the characters expresses a hint of sympathetic human emotion — which is precisely the point. Rand’s novels are vehicles for a system of thought known as Objectivism. Rand developed this philosophy at the length of Tolstoy, with the intellectual pretensions of Hegel, but it can be summarized on a napkin. Reason is everything. Religion is a fraud. Selfishness is a virtue. Altruism is a crime against human excellence. Self-sacrifice is weakness. Weakness is contemptible. “The Objectivist ethics, in essence,” said Rand, “hold that man exists for his own sake, that the pursuit of his own happiness is his highest moral purpose, that he must not sacrifice himself to others, nor sacrifice others to himself.”

If Objectivism seems familiar, it is because most people know it under another name: adolescence.


#85 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 23 April 2011 - 04:26 AM

FWIW, Mark Steyn says the movie may be politically relevant after all, inasmuch as it's about "an America in which government departments with benignly technocratic names regulate, cannibalize and confiscate private companies in the supposed interests of 'equalizing' differences between states", and an Obama appointee to the National Labor Relations Board is currently trying to force Boeing to build an airplane factory in Washington state rather than South Carolina.

#86 John Drew

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Posted 23 April 2011 - 12:37 PM

Am I correct in assuming that no one here has actually seen the film, and if so, does this thread hold some kind of record for posts made for a film in release that none of us has seen? (Sounds like a job for Peter to investigate)

#87 Tyler

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Posted 23 April 2011 - 12:50 PM

Am I correct in assuming that no one here has actually seen the film, and if so, does this thread hold some kind of record for posts made for a film in release that none of us has seen? (Sounds like a job for Peter to investigate)


The Hobbit thread is getting close to 400, and that movie hasn't even been made yet.

#88 Rich Kennedy

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Posted 23 April 2011 - 08:40 PM

Spectacular takedown of the film and the person and philosophy behind it from Mike Gerson.

None of the characters expresses a hint of sympathetic human emotion — which is precisely the point. Rand’s novels are vehicles for a system of thought known as Objectivism. Rand developed this philosophy at the length of Tolstoy, with the intellectual pretensions of Hegel, but it can be summarized on a napkin. Reason is everything. Religion is a fraud. Selfishness is a virtue. Altruism is a crime against human excellence. Self-sacrifice is weakness. Weakness is contemptible. “The Objectivist ethics, in essence,” said Rand, “hold that man exists for his own sake, that the pursuit of his own happiness is his highest moral purpose, that he must not sacrifice himself to others, nor sacrifice others to himself.”

If Objectivism seems familiar, it is because most people know it under another name: adolescence.

Cute, but that last clause is a problem. Most adolescents are clueless as to the sacrifice others make for them and because of them.

Persiflage: I see your point on the quality of ideas and the quality of the realization of a thing. But aren't both significant? Are you saying that you would prefer a hamhanded execution of something you respect and agree with? Oh, and let's say that the expression of the ideas and philosphy that you endorse is lousy as well. This you would prefer to some soaring and glorious realization of doctrine you despise on the screen, loquaciously explained? Would you not be at least a little embarrassed about the former, maybe even the existence of the former? would you not at least admire the beauty of the latter? Would you not at least respect the latter as a more than worthy adversery? I think that this gets at the heart of the problem of "christian" filmmaking and the rejection of same by some of us. Nevertheless, the above is a point of contact for your film criteria.

persona: Four hour train trip? It takes five or less to DRIVE from Detroit to Chicago. I'd think the train would be less? Doesn't it take, like two-and-a-half hours to "do GR/Chicago?

Edited by Rich Kennedy, 23 April 2011 - 08:52 PM.


#89 J.A.A. Purves

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 02:31 AM

Persiflage: I see your point on the quality of ideas and the quality of the realization of a thing. But aren't both significant?

Yes. The philosophy behind a film is directly related to a film's quality.

Are you saying that you would prefer a hamhanded execution of something you respect and agree with?

No.

Oh, and let's say that the expression of the ideas and philosphy that you endorse is lousy as well. This you would prefer to some soaring and glorious realization of doctrine you despise on the screen, loquaciously explained?

No.

Would you not be at least a little embarrassed about the former, maybe even the existence of the former?

Yes.

Would you not at least admire the beauty of the latter?

I'm leaning towards no. But it depends. Let's say someone made a soaring and glorious realization, loquaciously explaining how good slavery was. I don't think I could admire the film's "beauty." Let's say Nazis financed some "beautiful" films expounding the glories of their Fuhrer? Could I admire their beauty? Probably not. Let's say someone made a beautiful film affirming the ancient Roman philosophy of Stoicism. I could probably admire it. But that would be because Stoicism was closer to the truth than Fascism. So doesn't our ability to admire a work of art directly correlate to how many truths are actually affirmed by that work of art?

Would you not at least respect the latter as a more than worthy adversary?

I guess.

I think that this gets at the heart of the problem of "christian" filmmaking and the rejection of same by some of us. Nevertheless, the above is a point of contact for your film criteria.

Again, we'd all have no trouble rejecting a film made affirming the glories of Aryanism made in Nazi Germany, no matter the production quality of a film. This is because, no matter how beautiful the film was to look at, there would still be something ugly and abhorrent about it. If this is so, then what's wrong with rejecting a film like Atlas Shrugged based on a moral abhorrence to her philosophy on how natural selfishness is really a virtue and materialism is only a good and right result of man putting his own self-interests ahead of others? A separate discussion about the technical directing skills of Paul Johansson could, of course, still be had, but that discussion would still be secondary to me than the one about the specific story that he chose to affirm on the screen.

#90 Ryan H.

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 05:50 AM

Let's say Nazis financed some "beautiful" films expounding the glories of their Fuhrer? Could I admire their beauty? Probably not.

We don't have to speak in hypothetical terms. Riefenstahl made TRIUMPH OF THE WILL, a tremendously accomplished film.

#91 Rich Kennedy

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 12:41 PM

Again, we'd all have no trouble rejecting a film made affirming the glories of Aryanism made in Nazi Germany, no matter the production quality of a film. This is because, no matter how beautiful the film was to look at, there would still be something ugly and abhorrent about it. If this is so, then what's wrong with rejecting a film like Atlas Shrugged based on a moral abhorrence to her philosophy on how natural selfishness is really a virtue and materialism is only a good and right result of man putting his own self-interests ahead of others? A separate discussion about the technical directing skills of Paul Johansson could, of course, still be had, but that discussion would still be secondary to me than the one about the specific story that he chose to affirm on the screen.

In addition to Triumph there would be Birth of A Nation. However, there might be the question of any film qua film. Once it is in the can, it is what it is. Apparantly, as a vehicle for Objectivism, it is confused and seems to highlight the elemental entry and surface ideas of Rand at the expense of her foundational principals. Presumably, the ideas exemplified in the film are different than the ones many of us would routinely find objectionable. If this is the case, run-of-the-mill free marketeers might find value in the expressed ideas (because one might have sympathy with some tenets of Objectivism, it does not follow that one is an Objectivist) while Objectivists might find the film a travesty, having ruined an opportunity.

At this point, realization would be more relevant to the free marketeer while the discussion would be a waste of time for the Objectivist as it is for you, no? Further, how far do we take this abhorrance? Amoral anti-heroes (Godfather, Taxi Driver, Wild Bunch)? Trumped up "moral heroes" such as depictions of Che Guevarra? Revolutions that turned out to be more despicable than the tyrannies they replaced such as The Battleship Potemkin?

Edited by Rich Kennedy, 25 April 2011 - 12:05 AM.


#92 Rachel Anne

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Posted 24 April 2011 - 01:06 PM

Atlas Shrugged expanded into an additional 160 theaters but still dropped about 50% from last weekend. Part 1 will lose pretty much certainly lose most of the money invested in it and part 2 is consequently unlikely. (It would, after all, be a sacrifice for the filmmakers to make it, and we know what they think about that sort of thing...)

#93 Christian

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Posted 26 April 2011 - 02:01 PM

The movie is fading ... but book sales are surging:

First published in 1957, Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged is back in the news — and on the list. Long a Libertarian favorite, the novel has found new fans among Tea Partiers. This week it hits No. 65, thanks in part to a film adaptation. (Released in 299 theaters Friday, the movie has made $1.7 million.) Atlas Shrugged made its debut on the list on Jan. 22, 2009, two days after President Obama's inauguration, then peaked at No. 85.

#94 vjmorton

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Posted 26 April 2011 - 04:04 PM

To put what Steve said slightly differently, based on my attempt to read Rand's novel, I'd say making a good *and* faithful film out of "Atlas Shrugged" is probably impossible. You could make a good film out of the storyline and characters, but not the dialog or the mode of presentation. When I heard Rand's estate had endorsed the film, I learned what I needed to. Haven't seen the film; won't see it.

WARNING: Wild overgeneralization coming.

There may something about "A is A" Objectivism -- which stamps on ambiguity, mystery, paradox as "contradiction" and thus false -- that is simply anti-art.

#95 Peter T Chattaway

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Posted 27 April 2011 - 07:37 AM

'Atlas Shrugged' producer: 'Critics, you won.' He's going 'on strike.'
EXCLUSIVE: Twelve days after opening "Atlas Shrugged: Part 1," the producer of the Ayn Rand adaptation said Tuesday that he is reconsidering his plans to make Parts 2 and 3 because of scathing reviews and flagging box office returns for the film.
"Critics, you won," said John Aglialoro, the businessman who spent 18 years and more than $20 million of his own money to make, distribute and market "Atlas Shrugged: Part 1," which covers the first third of Rand's dystopian novel. "I’m having deep second thoughts on why I should do Part 2." . . .
Though the film has made only $3.1 million so far, Aglialoro said he believes he'll recoup his investment after TV, DVD and other ancillary rights are sold. But he is backing off an earlier strategy to expand "Atlas" to 1,000 screens and reconsidering his plans to start production on a second film this fall.
"Why should I put up all of that money if the critics are coming in like lemmings?" Aglialoro said. "I’ll make my money back and I'll make a profit, but do I wanna go and do two? Maybe I just wanna see my grandkids and go on strike." . . .
Los Angeles Times, April 26

#96 SDG

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Posted 27 April 2011 - 08:38 AM

"Ayn Rand is Nietzsche for stupid people." (Quoted by Mark Shea, source unknown.)

To put what Steve said slightly differently, based on my attempt to read Rand's novel, I'd say making a good *and* faithful film out of "Atlas Shrugged" is probably impossible.

That is certainly compatible with one valid interpretation of what I said. (I was deliberately somewhat ambiguous, in part because I am not an Objectivist.)

WARNING: Wild overgeneralization coming.

There may something about "A is A" Objectivism -- which stamps on ambiguity, mystery, paradox as "contradiction" and thus false -- that is simply anti-art.

There may indeed be something to this, and it may go to why Atlas Shrugged is such a bad book.

At the same time, the caveat in your "WARNING" may overlap with the ambiguous ground I left open in my comments. I suspect that any human philosophy, even "A is A Objectivism," can credibly be taken in different directions by different sensibilities, so that some credible intellectual successor to Ayn Rand might succeed in articulating that philosophy in effective art. It might even be possible to craft an effective interpretation of Atlas Shrugged that is in some meaningful sense "faithful" to the spirit of the book and to Rand's philosophy -- possibly faithful enough that even Rand would think so, though I don't know her well enough to comment on that.

"Why should I put up all of that money if the critics are coming in like lemmings?" Aglialoro said. "I’ll make my money back and I'll make a profit, but do I wanna go and do two? Maybe I just wanna see my grandkids and go on strike."

This is really disingenuous. Is the issue lemming-like behavior among critics -- or the absence of lemming-like behavior among audiences? Critics aren't that powerful. It's nice to know that Fox News isn't that powerful either.

Edited by SDG, 27 April 2011 - 08:39 AM.


#97 J.A.A. Purves

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Posted 27 April 2011 - 01:27 PM

I'd say making a good *and* faithful film out of "Atlas Shrugged" is probably impossible. You could make a good film out of the storyline and characters, but not the dialog or the mode of presentation. When I heard Rand's estate had endorsed the film, I learned what I needed to. Haven't seen the film; won't see it.

Precisely.

It might even be possible to craft an effective interpretation of Atlas Shrugged that is in some meaningful sense "faithful" to the spirit of the book and to Rand's philosophy ...

And being faithful to the "spirit" of the book or philosophy would be the filmmaker's downfall.

In Summation:

On the Unsavory Influence of Ayn Rand and Objectivism

and

Keeping the Big Picture When Confronted with 'Atlas Shrugged'

#98 M. Leary

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Posted 27 April 2011 - 01:29 PM

"Ayn Rand is Nietzsche for stupid people." (Quoted by Mark Shea, source unknown.)


I think this does injustice to Nietzsche at his best. I would rather say something like "Ayn Rand is poorly read Nietzsche."

#99 Anders

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Posted 27 April 2011 - 02:26 PM


"Ayn Rand is Nietzsche for stupid people." (Quoted by Mark Shea, source unknown.)


I think this does injustice to Nietzsche at his best. I would rather say something like "Ayn Rand is poorly read Nietzsche."


I want to echo Leary's point.

#100 John Drew

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Posted 27 April 2011 - 10:25 PM

No, wait.... he is going to make Parts 2 and 3! Just to show those critics!

From The Hollywood Reporter

The man who says he spent $10 million of his own money to bring Atlas Shrugged: Part 1 to the big screen vowed Wednesday to go through with his plans to make the next two installments, even though critics hate the movie and business at movie theaters has fallen off a cliff.

In fact, said John Aglialoro, the co-producer and financier, it's the monolithic view from critics that say the movie stinks that is motivating him to make Parts 2 and 3, he told The Hollywood Reporter.

And he defended his film Wednesday by accusing professional film reviewers of political bias. How else, he asks, to explain their distaste for a film that is liked by the audience? At Rottentomatoes.com, 7,400 people gave it an average 85% score.


What was Rands' attitude towards flip-floppery?

Story here.