THE ENORMOUS DISCONNECT BETWEEN ‘MAINSTREAM’ PROFESSIONAL REVIEWS AND VIEWER RESPONSE TO ‘Atlas Shrugged The Movie, Part I’

Yes, turning a didactic book with complex political, economic, and ethical themes into a fast-moving story was a challenge. “Atlas Shrugged The Movie Part I” looks sometimes rushed, and the necessity to push a lot of Rand’s secondary characters to the rear behind the foreground Hank Rearden-Dagny Taggart romance in order to pick up the pace and the level of coherence sometimes makes you wonder why the background of this film seems to be populated with such a revolving door of spiteful dwarves, none having received nearly as much directorial attention as the principals.

But face it, in real life, most “mainstream movie critics” believe rich industrialists need to be punished and taxed to curb their “greed,” so they’re offended by this movie’s themes. Are they forthright enough to say so? I’m waiting for the first socialist professional movie critic (voted for Obama, believes we need to “raise taxes on the rich to make them pay their fair share”) to admit they hate the political and economic THEME of this movie and therefore can’t render objective advice.

Now, if they didn’t enjoy the film they have a right and an obligation to say so. But don’t they also owe their readers at least some attempt at enough honest introspection to admit WHY? Instead, they claim it’s boring and hard to follow. I believe the fellow at “Rolling Stone” said the film just lies there shuddering like a clubbed seal. Do they really wish to plead guilty to not being able to follow the plot of this fast-moving film? Hank Rearden (Grant Bowler) is beating his competitors with a new kind of steel. The Washington gang, buying and selling favors as usual for those willing to pony up and “play the game” (including Dagny Taggart’s brother) tries to bring him down. (“Spread the wealth around” — sound familiar?)

In the film, they even use the lapdog collectivist press and their captive “National Science Institute” to try and build public opinion against the use of Rearden Metal. (OK, Rand did not foresee a “carbon dioxide tax,” which in our real world will have pretty much the same effect, and which the Obama administration now proposes to push through using lawsuits and extra-constitutional regulatory authority, after even Democrats balked at approving it in Congress. I dare say Rand would have been ridiculed for coming up with such an absurd flight of fancy, if she had.)

Dagny Taggart (Taylor Schilling), young head of the Taggart Transcontinental, believes in Rearden and his metal, and re-rails her Rio Norte line in Rearden steel. Everyone says they’re doomed, but they triumph. Along the way, their mutual respect blossoms into a love story. Because both actors are competent (in fact, Schilling is great), this happens progressively, with some subtlety, and is a delight to watch. Meantime, other industrialists get tired of fighting and disappear. The clear implication — that we’ll learn more about the plot thread of the nation’s leading producers going “on strike” in parts 2 and 3 — may be a bit frustrating. But what’s hard to understand?

Go to the “Fandango” Web site and read the reviews of this movie by individuals who have actually paid to see it. Yes, there are a small minority of “ho-hum”s. But the AVERAGE review, when I checked the site Sunday at noon, was “A Must-See,” the highest rating allowed. Note the number of people who have never read the book but who think the movie was great, rate it a “must see,” and now plan to go read the novel. Isn’t that what the authors of any film adaptation would want to hear? Does anyone say “I loved Scream Part 4; I can’t wait to go read the book”? I doubt either the film’s producers or the Rand fanatics would be capable of “rigging” a public forum with hundreds of reviews, one per person, from people who have actually BOUGHT TICKETS.

Is this a great film, on the order of “The Godfather” or “Lord of the Rings”? I don’t think so. But it’s quite good — both exhilarating and entertaining — and this movie has the potential to be a cultural watershed far beyond any other film currently playing. Yet critics who are relatively kind to endless “formula” comic-book sequels full of car chases and lowbrow humor can’t delve any deeper than “It stinks,” or “There’s too much pretty Colorado scenery”? They actually use precious space to complain that Grant Bowler never takes off his shirt? (He does, actually, if it really matters.)

Our current economic crack-up is a result of precisely the kind of arrogance Rand saw in the 1933-45 New Deal (and transported, with an added level of irony, to her book), in which taxmen and regulators and smug dilettante politicians who had never run so much as a hot-dog stand proposed to copy Mussolini and “allocate” resources among industries in the “pursuit of fairness.” They postponed necessary economic shakeouts, “propping up wages and prices” to benefit their pet constituencies but no one else, extending the Great Depression by years. So here does history appear to be repeating the original reception of Rand’s 1957 book, in which the mainstream reviews were almost unanimously negative, but the public went out and bought, what, seven million copies to date, with 150,000 copies selling last year … of a 64-year-old novel?

There is a great divide in this country. What the state-socialist press hates is that those who believe in hard work, rewarded or rejected not based on “good intentions” or on the government picking favorites (see “green energy”) but by the relentless market — allowing producers to keep what they earn; telling the mendicant classes to get off the dole — are now finding a voice.

And they want it silenced, immediately.

8 Comments to “THE ENORMOUS DISCONNECT BETWEEN ‘MAINSTREAM’ PROFESSIONAL REVIEWS AND VIEWER RESPONSE TO ‘Atlas Shrugged The Movie, Part I’”

  1. Is Atlas Shrugging? « View from Bippus Says:

    […] then there is this astute observation from Vin Suprynowicz, writing from way out there in Las Vegas,THE ENORMOUS DISCONNECT, an article reviewing the movie, as well as the movie reviewers. Vin’s enormous disconnect […]

  2. Chris McBride Says:

    I made the mistake of listening to Roger Ebert once and saw Roger & Me.
    Fool me once, shame on you; Fool me twice, shame on me.

  3. joseph hammond Says:

    Since Hollywood (and Broadway for that matter) are directing their product at 17-30 year old minds (since there is a great deal of money in those hands, much from the parents who use it as a form of babysitting) what do you expect but comic book noise, simple plots, and shallow characters. If adults want adult ideas put forward then they have to take back the boxoffice by attending shows they deem worthy of their time and effort (example: “Atlas Shrugged”). Otherwise, its “Scream 4” and “Spiderman:the End of Dark”……or Michael Jackson’s “Immortal”…..

  4. Oz Says:

    “I’m waiting for the first socialist professional movie critic (…) to admit they hate the political and economic THEME of this movie and therefore can’t render objective advice.”

    I wouldn’t suggest holding your breath.

  5. liberranter Says:

    Atlas Shrugged, The Movie, Part I is not doing well at the box office, but then again, it’s hard to believe anyone familiar with the work expected that it would. As others have commented elsewhere, wait for it to come out on DVD/BluRay. THAT is where the producers will recoup their money, and maybe even show a profit. I know I’m going to order my own copy as soon as it hits the market.

  6. Dick Burns Says:

    Looks like the marketplace, which is God almighty to you objectivists, has spoken. Time to move on to a profitable venture now isn’t it? Producing a “Part 2” destined to fail in the marketplace wouldn’t be “Randian” would it?

  7. Eric Oppen Says:

    My guess is that this could have been the greatest masterpiece in cinematic history, and the Usual Suspects would still have lined up to p*ss and sh*t all over it. Rand had a talent for making enemies, and even now, decades after her death, many of those enemies haven’t forgotten or forgiven her. Even when, nay, especially when, she was absolutely right.

  8. Harry Gilcrest Says:

    yours is a voice of reason and more importantly Constitutionality. your editorials and the RJ were and are a welcome surprise when relocating here a dozen years ago. This is a proud state and I will continue the struggle against BS!

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