Atlas Shrugged: Part I (2011)
A powerful railroad executive, Dagny Taggart, struggles to keep her business alive while society is crumbling around her. Based on the 1957 novel by Ayn Rand.
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After almost 50 years, this great 20th century novel has at last been turned into a film - in three parts of altogether 4½ hours. The film is naturally not as impressive and complex as the book, but it's still an eye-opener, and its messages get through. Having completed the enterprise of seeing all three films, and having read the book as well, I will try to give the whole thing as objective an evaluation as possible. First of all, it was a great joy to see this great novel filmed at last, especially after almost 50 years and since it's a very difficult and complex story to squeeze into a film at all. The effort on the whole is successful, and I think Ayn Rand (really Alisa Zinovyevna Rosenbaum from Petersburg, Russia,) would have been pleased with it, even in spite of the bathos in the end - but for that I would have given it a 9. The actors are all splendid, the story is made comprehensible, the arguments get through, and the filming leaves nothing to complain of, with a special applause for the train and flight sequences - the accidents (together with the great trial and TV speeches) provide the highlights of the films, and there are quite a number of them in the novel, one more sensational than the other. Also the music is perfectly suited for the story, which is kept in style all the way, with a sigh of relief for at last a great film without any brutality - until the last degrading torture scenes, which fall out. The only irritating detail was for me that the actors are not the same all the way but are switched for every new part. It's not very pleasing to find different persons under the same names for every new part However, no one falls short, and all the three girls playing Dagny, the heroine and center of the story, do her well enough justice. The novel is worth reading and re-reading, while the films don't call for the same desired repetition, at least not for a year or two, but they give a very good introduction and overview of one of the greatest novels of the 20th century - all utopia and speculation, but philosophically very pertinent and relevant, and more so than ever today. It was written (published) in 1957 long before the great hippie movements of the 60s and thus, like everything Ayn Rand wrote, far ahead of its time. It's an additional asset that the films have succeeded in updating the story to the 21st century.
The movie itself, as far as the technical aspects and acting, is a little above average. But I am not faulting it for that. IT IS COMPLETELY ON TARGET AND SCHEDULE WITH WHAT IS HAPPENING IN America TODAY!! The very first frame is:September 2, 2016 !!! That will make it just about the time Obama has ruined the country. I say, Obama. He is just the latest in a long line, and he has had plenty of Muslim Brotherhood appointed government officials to help. Our country is being brought to this Socialistic state very rapidly now. A live beheading of a male American journalist has been posted on the Internet by ISIS (Islamic State) and another 26-year old, female aid worker is now being held for ransom. This is all BESIDES our failed economics or redefining American and redistributing the wealth!! I admit I have not read the book, yet. However, I do know her premise. And I see it happening faster every day. That she is right on target and schedule, only 60 years later, is amazing and disheartening at the same time.I look forward to watching the next two segments. Absolutely disgusting what the Liberal, Progressive, trumped up Political Correctness Leftist are systematically doing to the Greatest Democratic, Capitalist, FREE Country in the world. They think they are so fair and smart, but just wait until they are living under Sharia law. I want to see if they are that almighty happy then!
I saw this a week ago, and now that I have stared, openmouthed in horror, at that travesty of a Part II, I feel I can appreciate this movie. For one thing, the casting--Dagny is lovely. She is cool and contained and lovely--an empress of steel. When she calls Jim "brother dear," the blood chills a little. When she and Hank (we'll get to him in a moment) interact, it's significantly less gag-worthy than it was in the book. She is about as human as the written Dagny will get, and the fact that it was a B-list star makes it better--I have a fresh canvas, a totally new impression. I don't look at her and think "oh, that's Reese Witherspoon" or "Oh, that's Angelina"--I think "Oh, that's Dagny." Oh, Dagny, would that they had kept you--you and your finely molded, sublimely interesting face. Would that they had not foisted upon me in your place a wrinkled, falsie-wearing imitation. Hank, meanwhile, is not quite as I had pictured him--but he's enough. He's in good shape, he's cleanshaven, he's just about old enough, he has an interesting, keen face and a clear, no-nonsense voice. He is as good as a low-budget film version of Hank is going to get, appearance-wise, and his acting is brilliant. His very eyebrows speak volumes. His interactions with Lillian are on point--the scene where he rolls off of her and she carelessly adjusts her strap is great. The rest of them are fairly well-cast as well. I particularly appreciate Lillian--visually, she's on-point: almost beautiful, but with some jarring absence, some imperfection. This is very well realized here. Francisco I found a little disorienting, mainly because of the hair, but he played the part like a pro. James is a departure from what I imagined--I always thought older, less attractive. His cheekbones startled me. Nevertheless, he and Dagny pass well for siblings. The scenery is great, and the atmosphere is as good as time constraints allow--it could, as someone else noted, do with a little more desperation, a little more fear, but one must allow that this was fairly early on in the book and everyone still thought Socialism would work. Bottom line: a masterpiece? Probably not. But did they take what they had and use it as well as they could? I think they at least came damn close. They even managed to pump a little blood, put a little humanity into the film. I commend them. My final words: quit while you're ahead. It only gets worse. Much much worse. Take this Dagny, this Hank, this Lillian and James and Francisco, and savor them. Savor them while you still can. Because before you know they've all aged thirty years and Hank sounds like a smoke-choked version of the Godfather.
Though not an objectivist, I have an interest in the philosophy or belief system. Since seeing the 1940s movie "The Fountainhead" some years ago I have been waiting for the movie adaptation of "Atlas Shrugged". Well, my wait was rewarded with the issuance of Part I, but I noticed that this movie did not receive much publicity. Well, Hollywood is full of dreamers and socialists who cannot or will not face reality so I figured that was the reason. It wasn't. This movie goes to such lengths to show the Objectivist philosophy that it, ironically, actually breaks completely with reality. This should never have been filmed.The movie starts by showing the conditions of the American economy of 2016 and the problems faced in this economy. It is a somewhat unrealistic in how grim the economy of 2016 is portrayed but that does not go beyond the bounds of belief. The situation develops into a crisis where a railroad firm that needs to replace some very old track in Colorado. The movie implies that this old track is a century old. I doubt that any rails that old are left in place in real life but that is not the primary problem with this movie. What is the primary problem is that we have a railroad executive and deciding to use a new metal that is advertised as lighter and stronger than the metal used up to that time for rails. This metal is untested and unproved yet the executive goes with her (yes, the executive is a woman and strong willed women are found in Ayn Ryn's works; as can be expected due to the author) hunch. If she is right there is a tremendous improvement in the rail business; if she is wrong the railroad will go out of business. The manufacturer of this metal has a full factory dedicated to its production.This whole situation is insane!! We are asked to suspend disbelief and assume that somebody is using an untried metal in an endeavor with public safety concerns?! That would not even be allowed due to issues of it affecting the good of the people. By even using the objectivist criteria this concept is still insane. A company would go out of business if this metal fails, so would it not be in the self-interest of the owner of the railroad to have it tested before he/she commits to it? Of course it would! Metal or metallurgical testing is a very developed science. To use an untested metal (this is the first commercial use of the metal no less) on a major project that involves public safety is not the decision of a self-interested person with vision but rather that of a deluded individual who probably has visions due to hallucinations! I know of the qualification requirements for use of new materials and everybody (objectivist or socialist) agrees the process should be very thorough. This movie is so far off that there is no way it could be viewed as realistic. There is a limit to suspension of disbelief and this movie goes beyond that limit. Objectivism or socialism or any other philosophy is not proved or disproven by this movie as it is just too unrealistic. Sad.