Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Soon To Be Denounced At A Theatre Near You.

I have to ask: do the makers of 'Atlas Shrugged' really have any idea of the perils of making this movie? Are they going to be able to, say modernise the hammy dialogue to make it sayable without 'corrupting it philosophically'? How are they going to reconcile its basic themes with the traditional Hollywood social homilies, which always include social messages about caring, sharing and families as much as sex and guns? Is a railroad drama going to run in the 21st C? As the budget expands to become a major movie, isn't the individualist radicalism going to get toned down to fit mass-demographic research? Isn't any such transgression, no matter how minor, going to trigger volcanic denunciations from Pope Leonard etc? (He didn't like 'Titanic' one little bit, and that movie is bound to be mentioned on the one-page ) How will they avoid Galt's Gulch turning out like a 1950s industrialist version of Hobbiton? Don't they know Angelina can't open a movie? And of course, who is John Galt? Tom Hanks?

18 comments:

Mark Plus said...

I say, go for the weirdness. Use CGI in post-production to make the heroes' faces look unusually chiseled, like statues, and the villains' faces disquietingly loose (because they lack a proper human mind to hold their facial features together, as Rand says in Atlas).

Daniel Barnes said...

Mark:
>I say, go for the weirdness

Superb suggestion. Maybe get really digital machine-like movements for the heroes, like the smooth, flowing way Howard Roark supposedly moves around in The Fountainhead. Go all Kraftwerk on the sucker.

Mark Plus said...

>How are they going to reconcile its basic themes with the traditional Hollywood social homilies, which always include social messages about caring, sharing and families as much as sex and guns?

Dagny early in the film expresses the wish to have children some day, but not in the kind of corrupt society she finds herself in. Then, after Galt shows her the way out, at the end of the film she stands by Galt noticeably pregnant with his child as he traces the sign of the dollar over the desolate earth. Though of course the roundness of the pregnant woman's body conflicts with Rand's preferences for human bodies made of lines and planes.

I'd also change the part about Dagny's non-reaction to the suicide of her sister-in-law, Cherryl. I have to wonder whether Rand inserted Cherryl into her novel as an afterthought, because you'd think that Dagny would want to dress down her brother for driving Cherryl to her death after Dagny made a philosophical and emotional connection with her.

Daniel Barnes said...

Mark:
>Though of course the roundness of the pregnant woman's body conflicts with Rand's preferences for human bodies made of lines and planes.

Hey, but Aristotle dug circles...

Michael hardesty said...

They should do it as a TV series like Dallas. Galt's speech would
run 15 minutes, dubious characters
like Eddie Willers and Lillian Rearden would be elininated. Dagny
could be head of a joint rail-air
company, the role of govt policies
in US deindustrialization could be
shown, the smoking pretty much eliminated but no concessions to
current PC or Hollywood crapola would be necessary. People are starved for something different.
Recently my 83 Yr young left-lib
Aunt in DC read Atlas and loved it.
A lot of the speechifying could be
eliminated because much of it is the same speech. Some good sex scenes would help. Screw the Rightwing's hangup on sex, most of
these christcult nuts are perverts
anyway as the current GOP pedophile
scandal is daily proving. You could
cast Galt as black and Francisco as
Arab if you felt the need to tone
down Ayn's Aryaness. Actually I'd love to work on the script. It could even stretch over many seasons, Dallas was on for 13 years.

Daniel Barnes said...

Michael
>They should do it as a TV series like Dallas.

Another excellent suggestion. Dallas was great, cable would love it. The apocalypse could be very, very slow, the sex could be Rand-kinky. Robert Stadler could be a Cliff Barnes-type figure. Maybe it needs a different title: "Atlas County" or something. But this would work.

Michael Hardesty said...

Atlas County ! Love it ! And Cliff
was my favorite character in Dallas. Rudy Giuliani could play Jim "Don't Bother Me" Taggart.
Sandra Bullock would be a great Dagny. If David Soul could take off
his recently acquired paunch I think he'd be a good Hank Rearden.
Now check this out, how about Denzel Washington as John Galt ?
Raul Julia would have made a great
Francisco but he's dead. So how about Morgan Freeman in that role ?
I'm spacing out on good Latino actors so maybe we can get some suggestions here. Christine Taylor
for Hank's girlfriend. Woody Allen
as Mr. Thompson. Alan Alda as Floyd
Ferris. Joe Pesci as Fred Kinnan.
John Goodman as Eugene Lawson.
Danny Aiello as Orren Boyle.
Tell me this wouldn't be a winning cast !

notaphilosopher said...

Frivolous question, but couldn't find anywhere else to ask. Why do all the characters in AS have such ugly or pedestrian names? Did they sound good in Russian, all those Gs? Did Rand give a lot of thought to naming her characters? Sorry, that's 3 questions. But this has also bothered me. I may be influenced by knowing someone actually called John Galt, long before I read AS. He had the personality of a radish.

Daniel Barnes said...

Hi notaphilosopher,

I can't recall offhand if there are any sources for the names in Rand's work. It feels like she just went with heroic sounding names for heroes - John Galt - and ugly, pustulous sounding names for anti-heroes - Orren Boyle.

Anonymous said...

notaphilosopher said...

"He had the personality of a radish."


When I read Atlas Shrugged, I envisioned the appearance of Hugh Akston as William Gaines (publisher of MAD Magazine). And somehow, toward the end of the novel, I forgot what John Galt was supposed to look like and I imagined Galt as William Gaines, too. So much for Rand's stellar characterizations.

caroljane said...

Since there must be very few people left in the western world who have not read AS, and many of those have it on their "oughta-read" lists, in the spirit of holiday giving I am reaching out to these lonely individuals.

I would never, ever tell anyone not to read anything, let alone 1000 pages of polemic. But I can suggest some alternative activities for the time you might otherwise have spent on it:

THINGS YOU COULD DO WITH THE TIME YOU DON'T SPEND READING ATLAS SHRUGGED

1. You could read Vanity Fair.(not the mag, the book).It has a lot to say about society and ethics, and Thackeray's speeches are way shorter than Rand's. Bonus, it's funny. Not even the Randiest fan would describe her work as a barrel of laughs.

2. You could read all of Jane Austen, some of her books are shorter than Galt's speech.You'll be amazed that the incest subtext in Mansfield Park doen't creep you out at all.

3. You could lobby the ARI to commission a rewrite of the Fountainhead in heroic couplets, eg:

"Lone on the granite mound he stood,

His bod was steel, his head was wood..."

4. You could explore the ARCHN archives for hidden treasure.


5. You could LEARN TO DRAW AYN RAND IN 5 EASY LESSONS,and soon you'll be raking in $14,000 per painting.

5. You could get a symphony subscription and revel in pre-music.

6. You could watch Supernanny, Lockup Raw and Judge Judy and be entertained by problems you don't/ no longer/ do not yet/ have, and feel truly thankful.

7. You could close the book, zap the TV, logoff the computer, go out and PARRRTYYY!

Merry Xmas and Gord bless us, every one,

3

Michael Prescott said...

Funny stuff, Caroljane!

caroljane said...

Thanks Michael, I'm thrilled to be acknowledged by the leading authority on Prunianism!

Michael Prescott said...

I'm flattered that you read my biographical study of the late Cassandra Prune!

Amazingly enough, after I posted that essay, someone wrote to me and asked if Ms. Prune was a real person.

caroljane said...

"thought Ms Prune was a real person"...a tribute to your creative powers! Unique characters like Prune so soon become mythological figures...you should have replied that yes, she was a real person! eat your heart out, Nora Roberts!

caroljane said...

More on More, Your other essay on Thos More also caught my attention, I also find a disturbing subtle sadomasochist thread in the Objectivist mindset.

More was a fascinating character who indeed combined the rational lawyer, the martyr and the egoist. Among his many sides was the friend of Erasmus who approved the torture and execution of Protestant heretics, some of whom he confined in his 16th century equivalent of a garden shed while he oversaw their interrogations. What a piece of work is man!

I love the movie, every minute of it. And John Hurt as Richard Rich - has this wonderful actor ever been less than riveting? (I think this was one of his 1)st film roles)--and heartbreaking Susannah york--and that reminds m.e, Hurt as Caligula....and Susannah in the first movie I was allowed to go to on a school night , "Tunes of Glory"...way offtopic...what was my point?

Oh yes, Objectivists and non, it's only a movie.

Michael Prescott said...

"I also find a disturbing subtle sadomasochist thread in the Objectivist mindset."

I don't see how anyone can deny that Rand herself had a sadomasochistic side. Besides the famous rape scene in The Fountainhead and aggressive sex scenes in Atlas Shrugged, you have telling references to "the most feminine of all aspects: the look of being chained," and to Hank Rearden imagining his hands manacled behind his back by his enemies. And of course there's Galt on the torture rack, as well as frequent metaphorical references to torture. Not to mention that Rand named one of her heroines Dominique, a name with an obvious connotation of "dominatrix."

The young Rand also confessed an unhealthy admiration for Edward Hickman, a real-life murderer who abducted and vivisected a 12-year-old girl. And she seemed to enjoy visualizing the deaths of all those railroad passengers in the Winston Tunnel scene.

Whether this tendency extends to Rand's inner circle of followers, or the average Objectivist, is debatable. It does seem that a lot of them fantasize about dropping nuclear bombs on other countries.

Severely repressed personalities (especially those with power and control issues) sometimes gravitate toward S&M, and a lot of Objectivists strike me as fitting that description.

Anonymous said...

The Objectivist centre have changed their name to the Atlas Society. From TOC to TAS! They have a lot riding on this film...I think their success will be linked to the films success. Another reason to hope it bombs!

They recently held a party (min entry $100) where you could talk to the producer, ask Q & A's about the film with some academic and see a 10 minute trailer(!)
Geez...$100, some people have more money than sense. Though I sure hope they trim that trailer from the movie theatres. I don't know seems like by the time the trailers have finished your too worn out to watch the film.

Do you think the film will end up like the Rocky Horror Picture Show? Where people go to revivals and shout out the lines? We could all go and shout 1, 2, 3 "Who is John Galt" & "I swear by the love of my life..."

- Steven Johnston
UK