Oh.My. God. Seriously, that looks worse than anything I could ever have imagined in my wildest dreams. This is truly a travesty. Whatever anyone thinks of Atlas Shrugged as literature, the novel has beguiled legions of fans with its high-flown romanticism, stylized characters, and idea-heavy dialogue. The movie should have been made in that fashion, as a reminder of Hollywood's Golden Age. The faux-1930s/1950s setting should have been retained. The men should wear hats and smoke cigarettes, and people should ride passenger trains and get their news from the radio and newsreels. The whole thing should have been visualized along the lines of a classic Humphrey Bogart or Clark Gable movie ... not (for God's sake) an episode of Nightline!Updating it, making it "current" and "topical" in this profoundly stupid way, simply robs the story of its uniqueness and its style. It reminds me of an early draft of the script for the first Chronicles of Narnia film, in which the children lived in L.A. and entered Narnia via their swimming pool! Luckily, saner heads prevailed, and CS Lewis's charming vision was restored. Rand's vision, on the other hand, appears to have been utterly compromised. Not only are these people rushing into production with a C-list cast, a five-week shooting schedule, and a meager budget, they're also apparently blind to the stylistic, aesthetic qualities of the novel. I guess for them it's only about drumming Rand's message into the audience's heads. What they don't understand is that the powerful emotional appeal of that message is rooted in Rand's mythic, larger-than-life characters, who must inhabit a suitably stylized, self-contained world. Have Ellis Wyatt gabbing on Nightline, trading quips with Wesley Mouch, and you've demoted Wyatt from an American icon to just another talking head.I realize it's only a brief clip, but this thing looks like an absolute, unmitigated disaster to me - and that's without even mentioning the high-school level of thespianship on display. I can only hope this "movie" is a legal ploy to retain the rights, and is not intended for actual release. Jeez. What a waste.
By the way, as an example of a movie that captures the aesthetic qualities of the original (highly stylized) novel and still works brilliantly, I'd point to John Huston's version of Moby Dick. Huston and Ray Bradbury wrote the screenplay, and they retained many of the most memorable incidents and lines, while simplifying the dialogue to make it easier to follow. The film is talky, but does feature some impressive action scenes. It's a fine dramatization of a book that might have been considered "unfilmable." If Aglialoro & co. were filming Moby Dick, they'd probably start with Geraldo Rivera pushing a microphone in Captain Ahab's face and asking him about Greenpeace protesters. You know, just to make it "relevant."
I get the feeling the next option was to shoot it on Aglialoro's cellphone using fingerpuppets.I mean, that would probably have been better, in a Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story type of way.
As with 1995's Fantastic 4, they can make this for virtually nothing, never let it see the light of day, and retain the rights for another 10 years.
"I get the feeling the next option was to shoot it on Aglialoro's cellphone using fingerpuppets."That would definitely have been an improvement.The film version of The Fountainhead wasn't very good, but at least it was a real movie with A-list talent and a big budget. This thing ... I don't know what it is. It has the smell of "crazy cult-member vanity project" all over it. If they actually do release this "movie" (straight to DVD, surely), it will set back the Objectivist movement by 20 years. Come to think of it, that's not such a bad thing. Full speed ahead!
BTW, I just watched some of the Karen Carpenter Story, and it's surprisingly well done, considering it was made with Barbie dolls. Much, much better than Aglialoro's "Atlas" is likely to be ...Maybe they should have made AS with Barbies and GI Joes. At the climax, John Galt could defeat his enemies with his powerful Kung Fu Grip!
Daniel Barnes,It doesn't look like much, good or bad. It just looks like they've filming a scene and running into some problems. If I'd never heard of Atlas Shrugs or any of the names of the characters in the book, I'd have no idea what that was. Is it really going to be more than one part? That's pretty risky. What if only a few people come to see the first part?
Then it winds up like Ralph Bakshi's animated version of "The Lord of the Rings" - in an eternal cliffhanger. Bakshi was lucky that the Rankin-Bass people liked his film enough to provide an unauthorized tv-movie sequel, but this flick looks like another "Manos: The Hands of Fate" or "Plan 9 From Outer Space"!- Strelnikov
Well, they do say that bad books make for good films. But if that was true then this one must be a prime contender for the best movie of all time. Actually the irony is that this bunch of film-makers, and I use the term in the way we describe Uri Gellar as a metallurigist (sp!), look like a bunch of Tooheys.But, lets be honest most of the film adaptations of her works haven't been up to much and the only one that was, The Fountainhead, didn't have much to do with her. Sorry, but if you do watch it, what do you find? A good movie, tha'ts for sure, but no classic like Casablanca, Citizen Kane, Sons of the Desert or a Man for all Seasons. Nor is it a very good movie, like Easy Rider, The Matrix, Midnight Cowboy, Cabaret or the first two Godfather films. I know it is tough to compare films, each one is unique in it's own way. But the Fountainhead is probably on the lovel of say The life of Brian, The Italian Job (1969), Flying Down to Rio or Wall Street. All of these and the Fountainhead display agood level of competence and are generally entertaining. So, no classic there, despite what the objectivists tell you. Nor was the script she wrote for the Fountainhead particularly competent. It was overripe and she failed to do a inspired script, unlike James Hilton, who wrote a corker of a screenplay for the adaptation of his classic utopian novel, The Lost Horizon.The Fountainhead works due to the fine directorial skills of King Vidor and his skillful camera man Robert Burks. As for the star, Gary Cooper, well he really didn't look very comfortable or convinicing in the Roark role. Though thankfully for him he still got the High Noon gig. Though Raymond Massed and Patricia Neal were excellent. But then they always were. So, for me the film works because of the technical & acting talents. Despite a story as silly as the day is long. As for this one, I think the less said about it the better. Perhaps it may end up a camp clas-sick like Mommie Dearest or Reefer Madness?Steven JohnstonStockport, UK
"I can only hope this "movie" is a legal ploy to retain the rights, and is not intended for actual release. "Why? There is absolutely no story to AS. At all, well maybe enough for 50 pages, which might give you 40 minutes or screen time worth watching. But the book is padded out with too much 'philosophy'. I doubt any of Hollywoods 'greats' Hitchcock, Wells, Capra, Curtiz et al could have done much with it. The 'evil' in the book is well 99.9% of us! Are cinema audiences really going to grit their teeth through a 3 hr film, which is just the first part, which tells them they are worthless?Steven JohnstonStockport, UK
Steve: "The Fountainhead, didn't have much to do with [Rand]..."Actually, to be fair, Rand had a lot to do with the movie. She wrote the screenplay and put a lot of pressure on Vidor to film it to the letter (which, apparently, he did). She also coached Gary Cooper for the final speech. Whether the movie is better or worse because of Rand's involvement can be debated. Vidor was a first-rate director and Neal, Cooper, and Massey were superb actors. But they were being asked to bring to a life a rather eccentric novel. It's not clear whether if Rand had just gotten out of the way they would have done better or worse rendering Rand's strange, over-wrought, unrealistic novel.Now the Italian version of Rand's We the Living with Alida Valli and Rossano Brazzi is the best of the Rand novel adaptions by far--superb in nearly every way.
"There is absolutely no story to AS."I disagree. I think the book is very well plotted and does a fine job of dramatizing abstract ideas in terms of mythic iconography. And for all the speechifying, it's cinematic enough; there are many exciting scenes and dramatic confrontations, and the lead characters are memorable and powerful, if not always quite believable. On the minus side, the "mystery" element is weak, and Dagny and Rearden seem particularly dense not to be able to puzzle it out even after being given many clues. I like "The Fountainhead" better as literature, but "Atlas" is, in my opinion, a very good book in its own right, even if it is too didactic and histrionic for my taste. But then I think Rand has been seriously underrated as a fiction writer. I wouldn't put her in the highest category, but I do think she can be compared favorably to authors like Sinclair Lewis and Upton Sinclair -- "message" writers who exaggerated for effect, and who used fiction as a vehicle for social commentary. "most of the film adaptations of her works haven't been up to much and the only one that was, The Fountainhead, didn't have much to do with her."As far as I know, there've been 3 film adaptations of Rand's work: "Night of January 16th," which was rewritten completely and didn't follow her play at all; "We the Living," which is an excellent movie; and "The Fountainhead," which I see as mainly a missed opportunity. "Atlas," if it were done right, could probably be as good as "We the Living." Done wrong, it will be a joke, and that's what Aglialoro's movie looks like to me. Daniel, those finger puppets are looking better all the time!
Michael,I think Anthem is Rand's best work. I don't think it's a coincidence that it's the shortest as well. Rand's worst tendencies converged in AS. I like The Fountainhead.-Neil Parille
Michael wrote,"Seriously, that looks worse than anything I could ever have imagined in my wildest dreams...I realize it's only a brief clip, but this thing looks like an absolute, unmitigated disaster to me - and that's without even mentioning the high-school level of thespianship on display."I think you're jumping the gun a bit. You can't tell what a film segment is going to look or sound like by watching a youtube clip that someone recorded on-set with a cheesy hand-held device. In order to get any sense of the actual quality, you'd have to see what was recorded by the camera which was trucking to the right in the clip, and you'd have to hear what was recorded by the sound crew as opposed to a crappy microphone from 30 feet away."I can only hope this 'movie' is a legal ploy to retain the rights, and is not intended for actual release."I'd put money on it's being a ploy to retain the rights. I suspect that they chose a scene which could be filmed with little or no money put into set-building, put a crew and the right equipment in the room, and then shot a few takes so that someone could record a behind-the-scenes view of the setup on their camera phone and leak it on youtube as proof that real actors on a real set with real crew and equipment had been put in motion before the option deadline had expired.J
"I'd put money on it's being a ploy to retain the rights."I hope so. "I think you're jumping the gun a bit. You can't tell what a film segment is going to look or sound like by watching a youtube clip that someone recorded on-set with a cheesy hand-held device."I may be jumping the gun, but I'm not worried about the technical quality. What irks me is the conception. Ellis Wyatt debating Wesley Mouch on Nightline? That just runs counter to everything that makes "Atlas Shrugged" work - the larger-than-life, romantic characters operating in a timeless mythic landscape. Lose that, and you've lost it all. IMO, it has to be stylized, retro, with a "classic" feel. Someone like Francis Ford Coppola might have been able to pull it off. Heck, even "300" (which I hated) was more in line with what they should be aiming for. But the best template would be HBO's "Rome," with its classically trained cast, melodramatic situations, and crisp, intelligent dialogue. A miniseries of AS along the lines of "Rome" might've actually been good.
Michael wrote,"I may be jumping the gun, but I'm not worried about the technical quality. What irks me is the conception. Ellis Wyatt debating Wesley Mouch on Nightline? That just runs counter to everything that makes 'Atlas Shrugged' work - the larger-than-life, romantic characters operating in a timeless mythic landscape. Lose that, and you've lost it all."Did the clip show Ellis Wyatt debating Wesley Mouch on television, or did it show Ellis Wyatt and Wesley Mouch being introduced? And do we know that Rand's version of the AS screenplay didn't include something similar to what is being filmed? While condensing the story for the screen, she or the current writers may have had good reasons to have the bad guys attempting a broadcasting bait-and-switch on Wyatt rather than on Dagny, or perhaps in addition to Dagny. So, again, I think we'd need to see a lot more, and understand the full context, before assuming the worst."IMO, it has to be stylized, retro, with a 'classic' feel. Someone like Francis Ford Coppola might have been able to pull it off. Heck, even '300' (which I hated) was more in line with what they should be aiming for. But the best template would be HBO's 'Rome,' with its classically trained cast, melodramatic situations, and crisp, intelligent dialogue. A miniseries of AS along the lines of 'Rome' might've actually been good."I'd prefer a contrasty, low-saturation retro look as well, but the choice to go in a different direction from what I'd personally prefer isn't an indication of impending failure. There is the possibility that Aglialoro and his people are actually going to make a serious effort here, and if that's the case, then opting to go with retro sets, props, wardrobe and CGI with a $5 million budget would have been stupid. With the film set in contemporary times, the crew can film at almost any location without having to dress it first.J
My apologies for an earlier post. I meant to say, regarding the Fountainhead was that any enjoyment to be had from the film had little to do with Rand's input. I do feel that her screenplay was overripe and her insistence on Gary Cooper to play the lead role was a mistake.As for AS being an enjoyable book, I think I'll have to agree to disagree with Michael on that one, though I can accept if the book had been trimmed down to 100 pages it would have been an enjoyable slice of airport fiction.I wonder how they will film Galts speech (This is John Galt speaking), as I've not timed it but it must surely run to 3 hrs. If it is a series of films that would surely take up an entire episode if not two. Would that be one to skip Michael?As for Coppola I don't think any studio would be dumb enough to give him the budget he would need for this. Surely we are all old enough to remember the Cotton Club? $50 million down the drain...and a prime example of the carelessness that almost brought Hollywood to it's kness.Steven JohnstonStockport, UK
Are the people who are making this Objectivists? If so, that does not aguer well for the finished product. As look what happened when the(or a)scientologist made Battlefield Earth. Now that one might have stood a slim chance if it had not treated it's source material with such reverance.SteveUK
"Are the people who are making this Objectivists?"I believe Aglialoro is an Objectivist. I don't know about the other participants. I agree that someone with a more neutral attitude toward the material would be likely to do a better job. "Would that be one to skip Michael?"The whole thing looks like it should be skipped. If it's as bad as I expect, I wouldn't watch any of it, unless I was in a Mystery Science Theater 3000 kind of mood. "As for Coppola I don't think any studio would be dumb enough to give him the budget he would need for this."Maybe not. I was just trying to think of a director with an operatic, totally non-naturalistic style. Coppola made some truly great films in the early part of his career, but his more recent work has been mediocre at best.
I thought that the biggest indicator of lack of seriousness and of potential failure was the announcement that Paul Johansson would be directing. Nothing against the guy, I think he'd probably be quite capable when it came to directing certain types of material, but it doesn't appear that he has a serious background in anything but acting, which will probably translate to his getting some good performances out of his actors, but not having the experience to really take control of the big picture.I think if Aglialoro was serious about filming the project independently on a small budget while continuing to raise money during filming, he would have sought out young film school geeks who were burning to hook up with someone like him who possessed picture rights and enough seed money to begin making and selling a good film. Aglialoro would be looking for a director who is technologically current and has had a single-minded hands-on passion for creating ~behind~ the camera rather than in front of it, and who is a good pitchman -- perhaps someone like a Kerry Conran, whose Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow is somewhat similar to how I envision a film version of Atlas.J
Strange how the philosphy of the John Galts can only produce something that would have made Ellesworths cheeks turn red with shame and embarrassment. Hell, even he'd know this is a stinker. Did Ayn Rand write the Romantic Manifesto in vain? Still, if it bombs they can always blame it on Kant. It always his fault.Steven JohnstonStockport
"I think if Aglialoro was serious about filming the project independently on a small budget while continuing to raise money during filming"Who would put money into this? Surely investing in this film would be the equivalent of taking out your life savings, walking to the top of the Empire State builidng on a windy day and letting it all go, then running down the steps and trying to catch it all. I'm sure you'd get a better return doing that than investing in this. Even if they get it made, which distributor is going to pick it up, then there is the publicity for the film. From what I've seen, it might work as a late night effort, in the UK, on BBC4, but as an item for serious consumption in the multiplex's, it hasn't a hope.I'm not denying that fresh talent, winging it, cant come up with the good. Think of Citizen Kane, Easy Rider or even early Carpenter, but I take leave to doubt this will be in the same league. Her stories are just too silly and long-winded and as I've said before they can only work, in the case of The Fountainhead, where there was a good cast and talent behind the camera.Steven JohnstonStockport
The trouble with letting Objectivists make this movie or indeed any movie is that the message will assume prime importance and any entertainment value with come a poor second.Anyway, interesting point but did not Rand say in the Romantic Manifesto that is was better a bad play was, well, poorly directed and acted rather than having it well acted and directed?If that's the case, objectivists would surely view this book as the greatest ever so ergo must be filmed with A grade talent. As would that not go against objectivist aesthetics to have a good book/screenplay poorly filmed?I think I'd go to see this one if only to see an actor say, with a straight face, "I swear by the love of my life..." Damn, can't remember the rest of it but it goes along the lines, not asking another to live for me or me for them? I'm laughing now, I'm skeptical any actor could say it with a straight face. Though the scene where one of the heroes shoots an American soldier through the heart as if it was nothing. Well there is a war on where this is happening for real. Bad timing or what? Will audiences buy that?Steven JohnstonStockport
For those who are scoring at home ...Amusing and perceptive piece on the AS "movie" here: tiny.cc/9rgztThe director who was canned at the last minute vents here and threatens to sue: tiny.cc/7fya1Many of the more recent articles assert that the movie is probably a placeholder designed to retain the rights, and not intended for an actual release.
Didn't Roger Corman do that in 1994 with the Fantastic Four. I've seen clips of that and it looked a lot more fun than the 'offical' film that came out a decade or so later.Steven JohnstonUK
Very negative review of a new off-Broadway staging of Rand's early play "Ideal":http://tinyurl.com/38xaxj4
Slightly OT here, but even funnier than objectivist films is objectivists on film. I mean writing on films, check out Ed Huggins at TAS. The phrase "get a life" springs to mind as he discusses which side Yoda should take in the Star Wars. Wow, I knew people took it seriously but c'mon, the politics of Star Wars, that is a new one from me. Erm...for most people it boils down to the Jedi are the good guys and the Sith are the bad, that is unless I've missed something. But, yes, you've guessed it the Jedi, according to the teachings of Ayn Rand are bad too.Steven JohnstonUK
Anonymous,I think I visited an objectivist forum once and I saw that on one threads they were actually talking about star wars. Out of curiosity, I decided to check out what they were saying. I liked Star Wars, and thought that at least it might be interesting. Now I wouldn't expect objectivists to completely approve of every thing in the "Jedi philosophy," but I was still a bit shocked that some of them thought that those Jedi that were murdered in episode 3 deserved to die for their beliefs. Now I know that Star Wars is a work of fiction, but it still kind of disturbed me. Really they deserved to die, just because they had beliefs that you guys disapprove off? I would never say that someone deserves to die, because they believed something that's wrong, no matter how vile. Objectivists in general claim to value freedom, and if they actually do in general, that is a good thing. But for people who claim to be pro liberty to not see danger of thinking that way is disturbing. If someone thinks that someone else deserves to die simply because of what they believe, they are only one step away from advocating killing people for what they believe. How is one to effectively argue for the notion of freedom of speech and freedom of conscious, if some people deserve to die for their beliefs alone? An attitude like that is actually incompatible with a free society.
Damien:>I was still a bit shocked that some of them thought that those Jedi that were murdered in episode 3 deserved to die for their beliefs.Yes, that is a disturbing undercurrent to Objectivist thought.
Don't they know the Sith are the bad guys?Steven JohnstonUK
But hasn't AS already been filmed already as "Jonathan Livingston Seagull"Awwwww come on, they are the same! The strong must not be held back by the weak. You know, Darwinian rotGranted it was a stinker and not one to even rent let alone buy, but Jack Couffer did an excellent job with the bird photography.Steven JohnstonUK
"I was still a bit shocked that some of them thought that those Jedi that were murdered in episode 3 deserved to die for their beliefs. "Damien, wot?????? Even the baby jedi? Surely not?As an old fart who can remember the original film from '77 I was disgusted by the scenes with the baby jedi's, but hey I accept you gotta start 'em young.Weird how Objectivists take Star Trek and Star Wars so serioulsy, the ARI gave the new Trek film a bad review (it promoted mysticism and religion). Not a million miles away from Hubbards lot who thought that both Trek and Wars were real, just a memory of real events the writers had from a past life.Steven JohnstonUKSteven JohnstonUK
Steven JohnstonUK,To be fair to the Objectivists on that forum, I don't remember them saying that the Jedi who were "younglings" as they are called in the Star Wars Universe deserved to die. They may have been talking about adult Jedi only. The one's that were leading the war effort before the clone soldiers that were under their command betrayed them on orders from the soon to be galactic emperor.
What about Yoda or Obi-Wan? Would they have liked to have seem them die?As for the Galactic emperor isn't he the most evil man in the whole history of cinema? Or is that Ellesworth Toohey?Steven JohnstonUK
"Weird how Objectivists take Star Trek and Star Wars so seriously"Perhaps that's an indication of their cultural level. Indeed, it's probably for the best, for I would hate to think what they would make of more serious stuff. Rand's censorious aesthetic nitpicking is one of her characteristics I most deplore. That she made errors in epistemology or ethics may be regrettable or amusing or even instructive, as the case may be. But her insistence of applying a narrow moralism to movies and literature is obnoxious, and sets a bad example to her fans. Expecting everything one reads or watches to pass an ideological litmus test has no other effect other than preventing one from enjoying and appreciating great cinema and literature. It closes one's mind to insights about the nature of things and fosters a kind of self-absorption that veers toward what might be denominated "psychological solipsism," where a person is so wrapped up in their own personal preferences (which they arbitrarily declare "rational") that they are incapable of empathizing or even understanding the preferences of anyone else. Anomic individualism once again rearing it's hideous head!
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