Atlas Shrugged Part 1 Movie Review

Atlas Shrugged Movie Review

It's not really a surprise that I like this movie and that's something that I'll be discussing throughout this article. Aside from that, I will be pointing out some reasons why many won't like the film.

I have been waiting for this movie for a long time now. I remember probably around 2 years ago, this movie was announced to be in production. There were even rumors that Charlize Theron will supposedly play Dagny Taggart. That would have been interesting because, well, I really like Charlize Theron and I got really excited.

Then around almost a year ago, the movie got released but of course I had no access to it. It wasn't really the hollywood type of movie that will be able to penetrate cinemas worldwide. At first, I was actually expecting it to be shown here. I don't know what I was thinking to expect such a thing.

And so just a few days ago I noticed that the DVD has been released already so that would mean only one thing! Obviously though, I am prohibited from promoting the illegal acquisition of films. Plus, it's quite fitting given that Objectivists have an undying love for IPR (intellectual property rights). And so I neither confirm nor deny how I was able to watch this film, what matters is that I watched it and I liked it and now I'm writing about it.

Atlas Shrugged Part 1 Movie Trailer

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand
Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

Better than the Book?

Oh no! Blasphemy! Haha. I have insulted the great magnum opus of the prophet of Objectivism.

It's a personal preference issue, I guess. I find so many unnecessary and flowery words and descriptions in the book. If I were the editor of the book I can probably reduce the length of the book by half. Again, it's a personal preference issue. I have read other works by Ayn Rand and I recognize her contributions to my own personal political leanings and philosophies.

In high school, I was able to read Anthem, one of her first books. It is very short but very substantial, concise and written very well. Many times I would even argue that it is one of the best written works I have ever read. It is very engaging; a page-turner from the moment you open the book. It has my ultimate favorite opening line of all time: it is a sin to write this.

Sadly, for me, not the same can be said about Atlas Shrugged. I know Objectivists will dismiss me as stupid for saying this but the movie is more communicable, easier to comprehend, than the book. It's more a personal preference issue, really.

I do have to recognize that this book was written in 1957 and the foresight of Ayn Rand is just so brilliant. What more if she could see the technology we have now? I can just imagine what brilliant stories she can come up with.

I do believe that fiction is one of the best ways of communicating political philosophy. I look at my own country's history (Philippines) and see how influential fiction can be (ie. Jose Rizal's novels) and how it can move people into bearing arms and starting a revolution.

Dagny Taggart wearing Rearden metal bracelet
Dagny Taggart wearing Rearden metal bracelet

Political Philosophy

Of course I loved it. It's always refreshing to see the "greedy capitalist pigs" as protagonists. Mises, in his book The Anti-Capitalistic Mentality, already warns us not to be surprised when literature is filled with statism and misinterpretations of liberty. And so that's what this movie is: refreshing and light. I've written about this several times. I see statism even in my favorite TV shows like Fringe and others. So it's always nice to have a breather and just be able to relax for once.

Of course this will be contrary to everyone else's opinion of the film. Just look at the 12% rating it got on Rotten Tomatoes. And again, the same thing applies as above, people will hate this movie just as they hate the book. It is the same anti-capitalistic mentality. Remember, statism is the status quo and defenders of liberty are a minority.

Plus, it surpassed my expectations due to the fact that my expectations were very low. If you actually learned more about my political leanings, you'll be surprised that I'm actually not so fond of Objectivists and there are several things I find disagreeable in Objectivist political philosophy and their cult-like practices and beliefs.

For those of you who don't know, there are actually several shades of libertarians, many disagreeing with a number of topics and issues. For most of it, I'd say my biggest difference will be in regards with foreign policy. All other disagreements are more on the philosophical arena, for intellectual play, and have minimal role in concrete or actionable methods in reducing the size and scope of government.

But unlike many Objectivists I know, I'm willing to keep an open-mind and will be honest with my personal preferences regardless of the film's political association. In fact, many staunch Objectivists are not fond of the film because it's "poorly made" and doesn't quite deserve the magnum opus of their prophet. I loved it. I can't even wait to see part 2 and 3 already.

Cinematography and Casting

Hank Rearden with Dagny Taggart about to ride the John Galt line
Hank Rearden with Dagny Taggart about to ride the John Galt line

Cinematography and Casting

With a budget of 20 million dollars, I guess you could say that it is a "B movie" and most of its detractors and critics would argue that the cast wasn't really well known.

I think that was a good thing. Taylor Schilling did a good jon in portraying Dagny Taggart, in my opinion. And I do find it comforting that the cast wasn't as "mainstream" as others would want it to be. Remember that this isn't really made by a big hollywood production company.

It's quite funny that it's directed by Paul Johansson, mostly known for acting in One Tree Hill. Honestly, the screenplay and cinematography and overall direction of the film was superb. The fact that I like it and would consider that it's even more effective than the book means that the film is a success.

The cinematography is very "film school". It's kind of hard to explain what I mean. In chess, we call it "book line" when you follow what the book tells you to do as compared to being experimental. Atlas Shrugged Part 1 wasn't really trying to be experimental or whatever and it's perfect for the structure of the story of Atlas Shrugged. For a "B movie" and budget constraints they had, it was really pulled off. People who wouldn't like the story's progression mean that they really inherently hate the story in itself regardless of its cinematography or cast, as I have said above.

It's quite sad that the movie is a flop barely even making half of their budget. And so I'm really hoping that the next two movies really do push through (the plan is trilogy of course just as the three main chapters of the book).


Overall Rating of Atlas Shrugged Part 1 Movie

All in all, I loved the movie. I didn't care much for Ayn Rand's love for big businesses or the emphasis of "ideas" hinting government sanctioned protection of intellectual property. As I have said, entirely, it's just so refreshing to finally watch a movie that attacks statism. I would have to say that any freedom-loving individual who wants, in some way or another, to reduce the size of government, regardless of political leanings, will enjoy this movie. I don't know if it can be effective at persuading statists but at entertaining those of us who see the evils of bureaucracy, it surely is very effective.

I loved it and I can't wait for the next two parts. In a way, I really would want to expound some more and give more details about my observations. When it comes to recommending it, well, it depends. I'm not really sure if I want people to watch it because surely they won't understand why I love it so much. It's more of personal experience, preferences, and principles that made me like the movie. There's a good chance you won't like it. Yes, it could have been better, but all in all, it's a super awesome movie.

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