Had a rare interlude of TV available without kids and not needing/wanting to do laundry, dishes, etc., which led me to discover Atlas Shrugged Part 1 was on Netflix. So I watched it again. Went to great lengths to see it when it was in theaters originally. I was surprised at how well it held up for me. The most jarring part remains Hugh Akston, and I found that even more so this time. The current times and economy conspire to make it all the more fascinating to watch.
I went to see Atlas Shrugged in Bellingham Saturday, that being the handiest option, an easy 38 miles away.
In brief, I iked it. I could pick nits, as some have done, but all in all, a good effort and worth seeing. My brother would like the train p0rn aspect.
I was most critical, right at the time I was watching, of the scene with Hugh Akston at the diner. He seemed poorly cast, maybe poorly acted, and the scene seemed poorly written and presented. The gratuitous dollar sign cigarette shot was just that, very in your face. It was well and good that he represented a dead end in her quest for the maker of the motor, but I liked better that he cooked her the best burger ever, in the book, and there was a message about doing the best you can, no job too lowly for that, even while employed in a less substantive job than you could, as a form of strike against a mad society.
Later I realized that something that might bother purists, yet to some degree was necessary for the medium, is the way scenes or dialogue right out of the book are connected by Reader’s Digest stretches of film that convey situation and story without being verbatim, or perhaps… feeling deep.
Rob Sama also has a review, and he noted something I had completely overlooked: Francisco’s speech about money. If money is the root of all evil, well then… what is the root of money, what are you really saying? Perhaps a nod to that would have been good. I don’t, for comparison, expect the films to contain anywhere close to all of “this is John Galt speaking.” That would be absurd! There’s a reason why in three readings of the book I have read that chapter through just once. But then, if you pay attention while reading the rest, it is redundant. Anyway, I absolutely expect a nod to it, a short version, something.
In the “odd details you notice” depatment, there is an emphasis on characters putting a $5 bill on the counter to pay for a coffee in a diner. All the world is not a Starbucks, and last I knew an ordianary cup of coffee was a lot less than that, even with a tip. So it’s giving us a visual of the relative value of money, and where inflation has gone in that world of the near future? If coffee and a tip is double, for instance, then $36 a gallon gasoline is actually $18 a gallon gasoline. Still insane, but less extreme than at first impression.
I could say a lot more. I agree that James seems too intelligent and competent, if differently so than Dagny. Ditto for Mouch, brilliantly played but less the zero at the intersection of various forces than a force in his own right. The world of the film is scarily similar to the world of today, and Mouch has been aptly compared to Barney Frank, who seems intent on competing with Jamie Gorelick for amount of disaster associated with his name. Intent being a key word, as with her it almost feels accidental, whereas with him it feels as if he means to invoke economic ruin.
That the film is not perfect leaves an opening for someone, sometime, to make another attempt. That the film is good leaves production of parts 2 and 3 of this attempt safe, I hope.
I’m extremely pleased it will be playing in Bellingham, Massachusetts on opening weekend! That’s not super close, but it’s an easy drive, not utterly absurd for an event movie, and not in the city. I didn’t want to be tempted to go downtown to Boston or Cambridge.
On that note, I like the latest scene that has been released to pique our interest. Yeah, I do worry a little that this is not my reading mind’s Dagny, but it’s also not going to match the book in other ways, and that’s not all bad. It could always have made the point more briefly. As I recall, when I realized Terry Goodkind was channeling Rand in Faith of the Fallen (oddly, the first time it had been obvious to me, however obvious it may be seeing the entire list of Wizard’s rules ), I described it as Rand, in a fantasy novel, but succinctly. Which is funny, since Goodkind is hardly a fountainhead of brevity, overall.
The previously released scene was arguably even better, perhaps more directly from the book, perhaps better cast. Lillian is easy to hate, as cast and acted, much as she was in the book, as written. I fear I have encountered too much, if subtle, Lillian treatment in my life.
If you haven’t seen it, check out the Atlas Shrugged trailer. I know I embedded it here and there when it came out, but why risk anyone missing it…
Except it still seems a little weird having Atlas Shrugged updated to be set in modern times, and the characters don’t look much like my mental images. Reardon, to whom I most relate, comes closest.
I’m overdue for a reread, but with the film pending, I considered it recently and decided to put it off.