Sunday, July 5, 2009

Just a Thought or Two.

Have you read Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged? I have. I found it intriguing. I have believed a person or society, for that matter, that is stronger, richer, healthier should take care of those that are weaker, poorer, sicker. Ayn Rand did not believe so. She coined the Objectivism philosophy. I am over-simplifying it, but it essentially the right to your own genius, profit and.....No, no I can't over-simplify it, because my explanation above doesn't nearly do it justice. Read the book. Seriously, it's long, but I think it's worth it.

Ayn Rand wrote an entire book (a few, actually) devoted to her philosophy. She makes an excellent argument. Atlas Shrugged had me questioning my beliefs. A particularly poignant part of the book is a conversation between the protagonist and another character - I don't remember who, I also don't remember the quote word for word and it's Sunday morning so I am reserving my right to be lazy and not look it up. You will get the gist, I am sure - The question is posed; If Atlas carries the weight of the world on his shoulders and the world is thankless for it, what would you have him do? The answer; shrug. I found that to be some of the most powerful imagery I have encountered in my reading travels. The image carried so much weight I had to put the book down for a bit to devote some thought to it. But it isn't the idea of Objectivism I am here to talk about today, it's that they want to make a movie based on this book. So I checked IMDB . Apparently one person or another has been threatening to do this for awhile. I have a number of problems with this.

1 - the book is better than a thousand pages long.
2 - there is a monologue in the book, a very important monologue in the book that took me 3 hours to read. Yes, 3 hours, don't let it discourage you though, I found it to be the only part of the two books I have read by her (the other was the Fountainhead) where her preachiness was overbearing. I think the entire thing could have been said in a hell of a lot less words, but I have never written, edited or published a book, so who am I?
3 - from what I have read on IMDB so far, I think they may miss the point.
4- and this one isn't a problem, per se, just something that makes me go hmmmm, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are tied to it. Angelina as Dagny Taggart obviously, but will Brad Pitt be John Galt or Hank Reardon? Hmmmm
5- I already said it in 1 & 3, but it bears repeating, this is a big fucking book, BIG book, not just in length but the idea, the story that conveys the idea....I just don't think Hollywood can translate it to screen without losing a lot of the message. Plus, I'm not sure the general public will want to see this movie. Ayn Rand takes self-serving, shoves it down your throat, asks you to chew on it a bit, digest it, and enjoy that fucking meal. People don't like self-serving. Unless Hollywood completely re-writes the characters, I would be willing to bet most people will dislike the leads in this story. If they succeed in writing the characters so that people will care about them, I think they will lose the idea. I dunno. Again, I have never written a screenplay of any sort, let alone one based on a book, so what do I know?

I don't know if I want this to be made. I'm not sure my faith in Hollywood is strong enough to trust that they can do this. I don't know if, when they do it, I will want to see this movie or if I will be able to resist my curiosity. We shall see.


  1. Hm. Atlas Shrugged is one of those books that I've always wanted to read, but never did due to the intimidating size of the damned thing. I did read one of hers... the short one.. Anthem? ... and I enjoyed it. I seem to recall not particularly liking the leads in that novel, though, and from all I've read, all her novels are pretty similar. At any rate, I just can't imagine this being committed to film; it's so long, and even without having read it, I can imagine the act of filming it doing it no justice at all. It's just too cerebral of a book, isn't it? as you said, to get the immensity of the idea across in a 2-hour film, or even a 3-hour one, and who's going to pay $10 to sit through that? I just don't see it. Again, I say this as someone who has not yet read the book. Finally, we have a beautiful day here, though, perfect for sitting outside and reading ... I wonder if the library's still open?

  2. AvB, you are absolutely right. It would take a few hours at least to film even a Coles Notes version. And the film blatantly calls the masses ignorant, I don't see people lining up for tickets. That said, insensitivity aside, it's a good read.