The Other McCain

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Ladd Ehlinger’s Four Letter Review Of Atlas Shrugged: Crap

Posted on | April 17, 2011 | 22 Comments

by Smitty

Let me first say I preferred reading “The Fountainhead”. Second, my standard review of everything: “It would have been twice as good if it was half as long” definitely applied to “Atlas Shrugged”. Rand’s critique of Socialism is effective, her approach to sexuality bizarre, and her atheism a total yawn. Thirdly, I’m not going to catch this or any sequel soon. Still haven’t seen Lord of the Rings, for that matter.
That said, Ehlinger offers a thorough, serious review of the movie.

Look, before I go on, let me make things perfectly clear. It would be great for me if “Atlas Shrugged: Part 1” was a good movie and went like gangbusters. It would be great for me to honestly say, “Wow! What a work of art!” and the film gets them into the theaters in droves. Then I wouldn’t look like I was sour-graping the thing.

Also, an “Atlas Shrugged” success might entice some of those damned goofy libertarian-objectivist-conservatives like the Koch Brothers to get off their asses and invest in movies that celebrate freedom, which are the kind of movies I want to do. Instead they spend their time throwing their money away by donating (yeah. Donating. WTF? Are they libertarian-conservative-objectivists or not? Shouldn’t they f’ing INVEST? Why not bust out some koom-bah-yah and granola while you’re at it, guys?) to political action committees and smarmy politicians. This does nothing to change the pop culture, which is where freedom is losing — worse than big time. We need more guys like the one who invested in this movie (only with better taste in directors).

Instead, all of our freedoms are being eroded away because of our current pop-culture. John Stewart and Stephen Colbert are doing more to destroy freedom than Obama ever could, and no amount of donating to think-tanks and goofy PACs is going to save things.

And hell, I’d love to do “The Fountainhead” right now. The first movie version, in black and white, was a piece of crap. Of course, the book was crap, but that’s the point – a great filmmaker takes the material at hand and turns it into great art. Welles adapted a crummy potboiler into Touch of Evil and Alfred Hitchcock turned something forgettable into Vertigo.

More than that, it would be great to see a good film for my eleven bucks. Give me another Vertigo. Give me another Wild Bunch. This movie is supposed to be all about success, competence, greatness. Right? Where the hell is all of that achievement in the film as a film? Nowhere, because…

Unfortunately, we don’t have a John Galt directing this film.

Read the whole review. Also, while you’re in his ‘hood, subscribe to his blog.
From what I’ve read of the reviews, let me pontificate on one of Ehlinger’s earlier points:

Rand was a great political philosopher. She was just a crappy fiction writer. Her ideas were great; even her plot “hooks” were great (the producers of society go on strike when collectivists take over; the world’s greatest architect blows up a building that he designed when collectivists ruin his vision). But she couldn’t get that into any interesting form.

And form is king.

Since I’ve read some Rand, here is my take: she was reacting to Socialism in general, and the Soviet Union in particular. However, that was a negative thing: her ideas mainly existed in opposition to those derived from Marx.
What she said in a positive sense, “the human mind is the pinnacle”, doesn’t make it past the first Alzheimer’s patient, as far as I can tell. A great piece of creation, the mind, but fragile and finite and looking silly when taken beyond proper context, as Rand’s philosophy would seem to require. And then her (can I call it “elemental”?) approach to sexuality merges with this to form a distorted view of the human condition.
So no wonder her ideas don’t enjoy tremendous traction outside of her books.
On the topic of film adaptations of books, let me key on Ehlinger’s point concerning form: a book is not a film, and vice versa. They are almost completely different media. Anyone saying “I read the book, and the film sucked” has already failed, if I am their audience. A film adaptation is a related work at best.
If anything, it sounds like the Atlas Shrugged creative team was too slavish to the book. The basic story could probably have been told in 90 minutes. There would have been howls from purists, who wanted line-for-line fidelity with Rand. Those weenies should be told to get themselves a camcorder and shoot the book straight to YouTube, for all 243 people so bereft of existence as to find that necessary.

For a more positive review, see Ed Morrissey. One of my philosophies is that, if you’re going to watch a film, you have to allow yourself to be entertained. It’s 90 minutes of your life you won’t get back. Sufficient unto the flick is the crappiness thereof, to paraphrase the Sage.


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