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April 12th, 2016

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06:42 pm - "Atlas Shrugged" -- and so should you at these cinematic adaptations
Did you know this novel has been made into a series of three movies?

I just finished watching them all, in order. Three completely different casts, with several familiar faces to geeky folks like me (Ray Wise, formerly playing Leland Palmer from "Twin Peaks", and Robert Picardo, best known for his role as the hologram doctor on "Star Trek: Voyager", will likely be the most familiar to folks likely to be reading this post), but ultimately pretty blah as a series of productions. The actor who played John Galt was mostly just eyecandy and was an utter fail at "selling" the lines he mouthed while the three actresses who played Dagny Taggart varied wildly in quality. I liked the first one best, but I think the middle one was ok at trying to make her lines sound convincing, which the third one was truly horrific at, giving new meaning to the word "wooden".

I can't remember if I read the book or not, or if I only started it then abandoned it. I know I read at least one of Rand's novels when I was younger, but it's so long ago I can no longer recall much of it, other than that I was underwhelmed at the time by it. Therefore, I can't really comment on how faithful an adaptation this was.

What I can comment on is how the movies struck me as a whole. Some parts of the philosophy I found appealing, but mostly I thought both sides were portrayed as ridiculous extremes. The government officials were fascist thieves employing violent goon-squads to achieve their goals while the erst-while heroes were subject to tunnel-vision that left no room for those who might have fallen on hard times or were disabled or elderly and couldn't contribute the way the able-bodied could. I wondered if there was any place in the Galtian philosophy for moderation. It certainly didn't seem so from what appeared on screen. I felt the whole thing was trying to justify heartless, compassionless, dog-eat-dog capitalistic selfishness while setting up any person who had ANY compassion for anyone less fortunate as evil fools who tried to set up a society of bloodsucking black holes of neediness on the backs of anyone who showed the least capability to be in any way productive to society.

I also thought the Galtian presumption that producers were actually good at doing things other than their original fields of focus especially irritating. I found the homeschooling mom particularly appalling, given that there was absolutely NO indication that she had any competence in anything besides baking and spouting political philosophy. Plus I wondered just WHO was doing all the scutwork in this magical valley of Atlantis and where all the goods and food were being produced. Was there a black market for glassware and produce from the East Coast in the Colorado mountains? (There were signs on produce advertising specifically that it was from Narragansett.) Where were the factories in the bucolic landscape for this supposedly isolated and secretive colony to supply all the goods seen on-screen? Stuff like that threw me completely out of the story, so in my opinion, there was world-building fail on the part of the screenwriters, directors and producers.

What I did like, though, was the dystopia of the outside world, eerily reminiscent of some aspects of recent years, especially the rhetoric surrounding the 1 percent versus the 99 percent, and in some ways, this world could potentially be the roots of the universe of the Hunger Games and its nation of Panem.

I really can't recommend the "Atlas Shrugged" series of films, since mostly I thought they were truly of execrable quality, but if one were to want to satisfy one's curiosity on what all the fuss about Ayn Rand is about, this might be a more palatable way of learning about her philosophy of Objectivism than by trying to read her actual novels, which are quite long.
Current Mood: aggravatedaggravated

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