Further Reflections on Atlas Shrugged Part I

April 15th, 2011

To avoid spoilers, I will put the rest below the fold ***********************************************************************************************

I walked into the movie with really low expectations. Many film critics (no doubt haters of Rand) were predisposed to hate it, and they did. Many libertarians (lovers of Rand) were predisposed to like it, and they did. I walked out pleasantly surprised, but that is not saying much.

First, the production quality was poor. The acting was crappy. Particularly the actress who played Dagny, one of the most sophisticated and complex characters I have ever read, was terrible. There was no emotion on her face. Zero chemistry with Rearden. She read her lines as if she was a deer in the headlights. And the sex scene sucked. I mean, I know they can’t show the violent rape in the book, but it was actually passionate, in a sappy sense! Even how Hank kissed her was so implausible. Hopefully for Parts II and III (if they are made) they cast a better actress. Hank was OK, but he didn’t have many lines. I didn’t like the Francisco character. Nor did I like that John Galt was creeping around so much. The rest were minor enough that it didn’t matter. The special effects were crap. The scenes where the train was moving looked totally fake. Hank’s office was cool, but everything else seems really cheap.

Second, the philosophy was conveyed adequately. I mean, they cut a lot out. I can’t believe they cut out the Franciso money speech. That is one of my favorite parts. That does not bode well for the epistle that is the John Galt speech. Dagny was weak, so I didn’t get her individualist self from her acting. Hank had a couple good lines. James Taggart was sniveling, but it worked well to convey his weak moral character. I thought Wesley Mouch was able to convey the statist perspective quite well, and his speeches were effective. The philosophy was somewhat dumbed down, but it works.

Third, the story was odd. They moved a lot of scenes out of sequence, and modified the plot a bit. How Dagny and Hank discovered the 20th Century Motor Company was all wrong. The $ cigarette only made a brief cameo. The entire budding relationship between Hank and Dagny was cut out. As I mentioned before, the Francisco money speech was gone. Maybe they’ll put that scene in part II, or at least allude to it.

So in sum, anyone who read the book should go see the movie, preferably this weekend. A high opening gross, hopefully, will allow the movie to be shown in more theaters next week. This will help spread the gospel. But I doubt you’ll love it.

Perhaps if Part I does well, Parts II and III will get a better budget, better director, better writers, beter actors, well you get my drift.

Should you go see it? Shrug.

P.S. I saw it at the Lowes in Pittsburgh, and there was a delay before the movie started where there was just darkness. I quipped, the projectionists shrugged.

P.P.S. There was a couple who brought an infant (maybe 2 or 3 months) to the movie. The baby did not cry once. That’s impressive. The movie couldn’t be that bad. I asked, the baby’s name was Rebecca, not Dagny 🙁