Sunday, April 17, 2011

Atlas Shrugged

We've been following with interest the cinematic release in the US of the movie based on Ayn Rand's epic doorstop of a book, Atlas Shrugged.

In a struggle that is worthy of a novel penned by Rand herself, Atlas Shrugged Part 1 has been adapted onto celluloid by a small independent production company using their own resources after the story was shunned over many years from left-wing Hollywood producers.

The movie is claimed to hold true to the book's philosophies such as the advocacy of reason, individualism, capitalism and the failure of government coercion that seem even more relevant today than when the Atlas was first published over fifty years ago. And what a great day it was to release the movie adaptation on 15 April 2011 - American Tax day! 

Without Hollywood backing the movie does not have the benefit of the mainstream publicity machine and it has been interesting to follow how social media has been used to generate interest.

So how did the movie rate?, not so good. According to the Rotten Tomatoes website, mainstream critics panned the movie with 19/20 giving it the thumbs down:

"About to lose his long-held rights to Ayn Rand's novel, and perhaps to cash in on apparent Tea Party interest and support, producer John Aglialoro ... rushed this film into a low-budget production and it shows in every frame" Boston Globe.

"This movie is crushingly ordinary in every way, which with Rand I wouldn't have thought possible" Chicago Tribune. 

"Ayn Rand's monumental 1,168-page, 1957 novel gets the low-budget, no-talent treatment and sits there flapping on screen like a bludgeoned seal" Rolling Stone. 

"The first in a proposed trilogy, "Atlas Shrugged: Part 1" is nearly as stilted, didactic and simplistic as Rand's free-market fable" Washington Post. 

"Don't hold your breath for parts 2 and 3" Wall Street Journal. 

The sole positive review came from the New York Post: "Though a bit stiff in the joints and acted by an undistinguished cast amid TV-movie trappings, this low-budget adaptation of Ayn Rand's novel nevertheless contains a fire and a fury that makes it more compelling than the average mass-produced studio item". 

Although the mainstream critics were brutal, it was pleasing to note that 85 per cent of over 7,000 audience attendees that voted "liked" the movie. 

Reading between the lines it would appear that the movie's reported US$15 million  investment was only enough to produce a reasonable qualty made-for-TV adaptation. 

It doesn't seem that even credible Kiwi actor, Grant Bowler that played Hank Rearden after having to endure playing opposite Socialist-hugger, Robyn Malcolm on Outrageous Fortune could lift the quality of production.

The odds of this independent low-budget movie becoming a cinematic mainstream success and that parts 2 and 3 will be even made now seem slim.

What is more important is the much needed debate that this movie has the potential to create. Pinkos will hate and despise the movie and the book's loyal devotees that will struggle with any necessary artistic license used in the film. Hopefully the noise they will generate will be a major force in promoting its manta to the masses. 
And is this happening already with the search terms, "Atlas Shrugged" that have recently made it to the top of Google Trends and "Ayn Rand" in the top-10?
Many business owners say Atlas Shrugged influenced their lives more than anything else they have read. You probably haven't got too much time left to go buy the book and read it before Atlas Shrugged Part 1 is released on DVD.

We note that book sales of Atlas Shrugged has surged to #4 on the Amazon bestseller list.

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