The Other McCain

"One should either write ruthlessly what one believes to be the truth, or else shut up." — Arthur Koestler

‘Atlas Shrugged: Part I’

Posted on | May 15, 2011 | 12 Comments

A review by Wombat-socho

It’s been a month now since Atlas Shrugged Part I hit the theaters for a limited run. Between tax season and the classes I needed to finish off for spring semester, I didn’t get a chance to see it until this weekend. While I’m no Ayn Rand fanboy, I enjoyed Atlas Shrugged as a novel well enough, long speeches and all. So when I heard that somebody was trying to get a movie version of Rand’s classic dystopian novel done, I figured I ought to at least take a look, especially when people started making noises about how the scriptwriters had managed to cut the book in all the right places so that one could actually see the whole story on film in less than a week.

Despite what the critics and others have said, it’s a decent movie. While the book can be tough going at times, partially due to the aforementioned speeches, the movie instead moves along at a good clip; the ninety-seven minutes were up before I knew it. Taylor Schilling and Grant Bowler do well as Dagny Taggart and Hank Rearden, and the rest of the largely unknown cast turns in decent performances as well. So on its own merits, it’s an okay movie, and if I hadn’t read the book before, I probably would have come out of it with much the same reaction: I got my money’s worth.

Since I have read Atlas Shrugged, though, I have to answer the inevitable questions that arise when a book (especially one that has such a large and passionate following) gets converted to a movie. First, is the movie faithful to the book? Generally, yes; this is no bait-and-switch job (as with Paul Verhoeven’s execrable Starship Troopers) where nothing remains intact but the character names. The flow of the main plot is intact, with very slight revisions to allow for the changes in the last half-century since the book came out; the subplot of the atmospheric static motor is also intact, and the contrast between the passionate love of Dagny and Hank and the loveless (to put it mildly) parasitic relationship posing as marriage between Hank and Lillian Rearden shows up even better on the big screen than it did in the book; Rebecca Wisocky plays the bitchy Lillian to the hilt, and would deserve an Oscar nomination if the award meant anything any more. If you’re a hard-core Rand fan, you can find plenty of nits to pick, I’m sure, from the casting of Taylor Schilling as Dagny — instead of some raven-haired no-nonsense sort like Angelina Jolie or Janine Turner, although they’re both a bit old for the part now — to the deletion of quite a bit of dialogue and monologue both. I think that the changes and cuts made to the book in order to make a decent screenplay actually improved the movie. All of the characters’ personalities are essentially the same, the major plot points have remained intact, and much of the background matches up better to the events of the last half-century than it did when the book was originally published.

So. Movie wins at translating Rand’s opus to the big screen; movie also wins on its own merits as an entertaining drama. Two thumbs up, say I; this is a movie well worth your time and money, and sod the critics who say otherwise.

Visit the Official Atlas Shrugged Movie Web Site!


Comments are closed.