A remarkable coincidence: The day I had completed my reading of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged, I came across this trailer for the movie version. I hadn’t known that a movie was in the works. In fact, I seem to remember hearing that Atlas Shrugged was unfilmable.
Often when I see a commercial, I try to guess who the intended audience is. Either this movie is intended as a valentine to Atlas Shrugged fans or an introduction of Ayn Rand to the general audience. Let’s see…
For those Who Heart John Galt
When producing something for fans, it is important to get certain details right. A false note will distract the viewer from enjoying the film. From the trailer, it appears the story takes place modern day rather than mid-20th century. Why is this important? Consider that the railroad industry is central to the story in the novel. Since then, with a national highway system and increasingly affordable cars and air travel, passenger railway travel has been surpassed. Rail is still vital to freight, but would a modern society within the film and the viewers of the film relate as well as when the novel was set and read? Also, if we’re going to modernize the setting, why not the industry? Airline, health insurance or technology industries would be timely stand-ins, I’d think.
Further, hiding Atlantis/Galt Gulch would be more difficult and shadowing Ms. Taggert and others much easier with modern technologies. Though I suppose Galt or his allies would rig up counter-measures.
I could not imagine there would be word-for-word fidelity to Galt’s radio address (that would be a film unto itself in terms of length), so there would have to be a lot of editing. A lot. Say down from 2+ hours of the broadcast to 10-15 minutes of screen time.
And for an audience already familiar with the story, there goes the mystery. It becomes all the more important for the director and his cast to make the movie compelling, so wouldn’t breaking the film into at least 2 parts undermine their efforts?
For those who still ask Who is John Galt?
Suppose you had heard of Ayn Rand and her novel, but haven’t been curious enough to read it, would this trailer change your thinking? Would you pre-order tickets for the show? And keep in mind, this is just Part 1.
To me, the trailer feels — I don’t know. I have in mind a mash-up where isolated shots were stitched together to make a whole. I don’t know how else to explain it. It just feels generic — like stock.
There aren’t any recognizable actors, big names. This is fine with me, but for the casual movie-goer such as yourself, likely not. Did I mention it’s at least 2 parts. Tempted now?
When was the last time a straight drama was presented over two movies? Does Godfather count? When is Part 2 to be released? As of this posting, I do not see it listed on IMDB.com. So the filmmakers are asking you to plunk down your money twice with a year-long (hopefully shorter) intermission ? Will you remember the Important Stuff of Part 1 over that time to enjoy Part 2? How likely will the movie’s message retain its impact over such a gap of time?
For this audience, I would think it would have been smarter to keep it to one movie.
But all the above said, I hope it is successful. I think the novel is very relevant today, all the more so in this political season where this nation debates the reach of government and its ability to deliver on its obligations.
What do you think of the trailer? Will you see the movie in April?