The just-released movie adaptation of Ayn Rand’s classic novel, Atlas Shrugged, is a stunning achievement on many levels.
The movie’s appearance on the big screen is an achievement in and of itself, in light of the rumored efforts by the Hollywood establishment to blackball the production. The film’s producers created a remarkably credible product while using B-list actors and operating on a limited budget of less than $15 million.
It is also stunning that such a movie can make it to the big screen in today’s political and social milieu. The themes conveyed by the movie include exaltation of free market capitalism, admiration of grand achievement by heroic individuals and businesses freed from constraints, and demonization of a heavy-handed government that impedes progress with cronyism and pandering to the lowest common denominator.
But perhaps the most impressive facet of the movie is that it moves quickly, despite being an adaptation of a book that is almost 1200 pages long and addresses complex ideas and philosophy. While the current release is Part One of a planned trilogy, the director and writers compressed a tremendous volume of literary content into an engaging, fast-paced, entertaining product that allows the viewer to lose track of time. And the theme, content, and dialogue are so different from mainstream movies that viewers are likely to find themselves hanging on every word and event in the film.
Perhaps the only disappointing aspect of the film is that the writers took license with some elements of the plot and characters that deviate from Rand’s book. While such license was necessary to compress the literary work into a movie, reasonable bounds were occasionally overstepped. As with all movie adaptations of classic novels, viewers who have read the book will conclude that the literary version is more inspiring, insightful, and complex. That is not a reason to avoid the movie, which is worth far more than the price of admission. It is, however, a reason to buy the book after seeing the movie.