Atlas Shrugged: Part One Paul Johansson

Atlas Shrugged: Part One Paul Johansson
One of the most divisive literary figures of the 20th century, Ayn Rand wrote only two novels – 1943's The Fountainhead and 1957's Atlas Shrugged – but is best known for developing Objectivism, a rationalist philosophy that espouses the pursuit of individual self-interest and the virtues of laissez faire capitalism. While often roundly dismissed by intellectuals of all stripes, Rand has always maintained a cadre of fervent followers, such as producer and writer John Aglialoro, who optioned Atlas Shrugged in 1992, expecting it to have a swift turnaround into a feature film. Now, as Atlas Shrugged's prophetic date of 2016 approaches, the first part of the adaptation is finally ready for consumption. Unlike the hilariously over-cooked 1949 adaptation of The Fountainhead (directed by King Vidor and starring Gary Cooper), Atlas Shrugged tries to play things as straight as possible, borrowing much of its aesthetic from modern, post-Matrix sci-fi. While boasting a fairly elaborate story with plenty of business talk, much of which can be seen as analogous to our modern economic meltdown, Atlas Shrugged is essentially the story of two individualists, Dagny Taggart (Taylor Schilling) and Henry Rearden (Grant Bowler), both struggling against the oppressive forces of government to keep their hands on their massive wealth and monolithic companies. If that sounds facetious, it's not meant to be, but as much as one tries to keep an open mind and accept the story at face value, the constant paranoid hectoring of the script makes it difficult. The absolutism and determinism of the source material doesn't mesh with Rand's supposed overriding concept of being able to think for oneself, which is constantly shouted throughout the film. Few movies are truly critic-proof, but this is one of them. It is skilfully made and well paced, but looks as if made at another time in another world, where its brutal lack of subtlety and stone-faced exhibition constitute good storytelling. Rand fans will lap this up, but it's doubtful this first instalment in the Atlas Shrugged saga will earn any converts. The DVD comes with a fair amount of extras, including Aglialoro talking about how the film came to be finally made and a commentary track with Aglialoro, co-writer Brian Patrick O'Toole and producer Harmon Kaslow, wherein Aglialoro amusingly often diverts into off-topic political rants, with his co-commentators trying to rein him in. (Fox)