Great Review in Barron’s this Monday: Big Novel Meets Big Screen

The movie version of Atlas Shrugged is both entertaining and true to its author’s vision, our reviewer says. And guess who the guys in the white hats are. Leave it to Barron’s to write a first class article on such a momentous occasion as the release of Atlas Shrugged to the big screen. Well done. I concur. Finally, the good guys get their due.

Rand’s advocates will regard this film as an eloquent statement of her call for individual freedom. Moviegoers interested mainly in entertainment will appreciate its locomotive-like pace, and will be moved by searing images of America in a devastating depression in 2016. Add to that Elia Cmiral’s stirring score, and Atlas Shrugged, Part I is a gripping, although unsolved, mystery.

Well said.

Admirers of this vision might expect the movie adaptation to feature A-list actors on the level of Gary Cooper, who starred in the 1949 film of Rand’s The Fountainhead, for which she herself wrote the script. Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt were, in fact, among the names mentioned during Atlas Shrugged‘s long journey to the screen. But the major studios saw too little commercial potential in producing a movie faithful to the colossal original. One proposed screenplay even left out the strike, an omission likened by Objectivist philosopher David Kelley to filming Gone with the Wind without the Civil War.

The truth is that the studios, writers, and the big Hollywood names generally eschew the message of Rand’s philosophy. I wouldn’t expect them to get it. Kudos to this guy for getting it done.

Entrepreneur John Aglialoro, who had acquired the film rights in 1992, was determined to hold out for a version true to the novel. But after repeated deal-making snags, he faced expiration of the film rights on June 15, 2010. On June 13 of that year, Aglialoro started shooting, with a self-financed budget of only $20 million.

I would be delighted to hear that all of the studios that passed regret it bitterly, but I wouldn’t be surprised to read “sour grapes” stories in the Hollywood press. But perhaps it’s too early. Let’s keep that “underdog” persona alive until after the opening weekend box office gross has been tallied. Let me know your thoughts.