Free Markets, Free People

Is Atlas Shrugged finally going to the silver screen?

This my latest article for the Atlanta Examiner.

Talk of putting Ayn Rand’s classic, Atlas Shrugged, on the silver screen has made its way back into the news:

After decades in development hell, Ayn Rand’s capitalism-minded “Atlas Shrugged” is taking new steps toward the big screen — with one of the film world’s most prominent money men potentially at its center.

Ryan Kavanaugh’s Relativity Media is circling the Baldwin Entertainment project and could come aboard to finance with Lionsgate, which got involved several years ago.

Rand’s popular but polarizing book — it’s derided by many literary critics but has a huge public following — tells the story of Dagny Taggart, a railroad executive trying to keep her corporation competitive in the face of what she perceives as a lack of innovation and individual responsibility.

A number of stars have expressed serious interest in playing the lead role of Taggart. Angelina Jolie previously had been reported as a candidate to play the strong female character, but the list is growing and now includes Charlize Theron, Julia Roberts and Anne Hathaway.

This isn’t the first time there has been talk of making Atlas Shrugged into a motion picture, as the article notes. In fact, Rand was working on a screenplay when she died in 1982. Needless to say, the project has a history of not getting off the ground.

Atlas Shrugged, published in 1957, is a work of fiction, however, it contains key concepts of Rand’s personal philosophy, Objectivism, which teaches rational self-interest, personal sovereignty and free-market capitalism. Many also consider it to be somewhat prophetic, especially during this current economic downturn.

The producers of society, represented by Dagny Taggart, Hank Rearden, Francisco d’Anconia and John Galt, are derided by antagonists in the book and government action, supported by “looters” and “moochers,” begin leading its citizens down the path of socialism. Sound familiar?

In Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, Rand called business, “America’s persecuted minority.” Though, as Rand once pointed out, businessmen are often enemies of capitalism because they seek government favor, much like companies seeking bailouts today.

With the rise of the group mentality and class warfare, the producers in our world today are castigated and blamed for the current economic downfall. Rand once said, “One of the methods used by statists to destroy capitalism consists in establishing controls that tie a given industry hand and foot, making it unable to solve its problems, then declaring that freedom has failed and stronger controls are necessary.” That is exactly what we are seeing in today societal and political rhetoric, just look at recent comments by President Barack Obama for affirmation of the misguided and cancerous populism consuming America. That the market has failed and it must be regulated to the point of expanding government power to take over businesses.

Keep your fingers crossed that a film adaption of Atlas Shrugged gets done. with a message as powerful as the novel. Rand’s message needs to be heard.

If you’d like to learn more about Ayn Rand, please visit the Ayn Rand Institute and the Atlas Society.

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14 Responses to Is Atlas Shrugged finally going to the silver screen?

  • I am a tad bit apprehensive that the film version will turn out to be a “reimagining” of the work. Sort of the way “Starship Troopers” was revised.

    • Yeah, same here. But I think that they have to keep to the spirit of the book.

  • Being written by Wallace im not to worried that it will get diluted. Hes not a lefty from what i can tell.

  • Hard to see how Hollywood could do the book justice when the philosphy of the book is the opposite of most in Hollywood.

  • From the named actresses, I’d much rather Theron get the lead role.

  • Do these hollywood actors and actresses realize what they are getting into?

  • I agree with Rick, the odds of Hollywood understanding the philosphy of the book well enough to convey the message is doubtful.  More likely, the message will be lost, and the movie will be turned into some sort of soft porn R-rated flick.

  • Please not Julia Roberts.

  • Accurately convey the message of Atlas Shrugged in under 3 hours? Very doubtful. Needs to be a mini-series.

  • I’ll be very suprised if this comes across as anything but leftist. 

    I know an awful lot of people who claim to be fans of Rand who also want socialized medicine – I don’t think they got the message.

  • pedro would like kate winslet to star. she will disrobe without blinking and this is essential to capturing ayn rand’s message.

  • I don’t think I could sit through the lectures which make up a large percentage of Atlas Shrugged.