Movie Review: Atlas Shrugged

April 16, 2011

Secession and Galt’s Gulch

By Russell D. Longcore

Today, April 15th, 2011 was the nationwide opening for the new motion picture “Atlas Shrugged Part One.” The remade movie shows up in theaters as a great example of the theme of the book. In Rand’s 2016 America, Washington has completed the transition to fascism, and controls every facet of the economy. In today’s America, director Paul Johansson was unable to find even one movie studio that would make this picture, so he self-financed and self-produced. Sounds just like life in Rand’s fascist America four years hence.

I’m not going to give you a synopsis of the story. I figure either you’ve already read the book or you don’t really care.

The 12:25 time slot was the first showing in Atlanta today. When I arrived, I took note that the darkened theater was full. I found a seat in the top row. When we were all streaming out of the theater, I noted that I did not see one person who appeared to be younger than 40 in the theater. Don’t really know what that means quite yet. Does it mean that we old coots care more, or that it’s just we that read the book, or that there are no transformers, chase scenes, vampires or teenagers in the film?

The dialogue is wooden and emotionless. I didn’t bring along a copy of the book to see if any of Rand’s writing actually made it to the screenplay, but I certainly remember the words of the book’s characters holding my attention. Not so on the big screen today. Then to make it worse, the actors forgot to notify their faces that they were acting. While leads actors Taylor Shilling (Dagny) and Grant Bowler (Hank) are both eye candy, they are underplaying their roles so deeply that their ranges of emotion run from A to B. The only actor who is stealing scenes is Graham Beckel, playing oilman Ellis Wyatt.

So how does this movie relate to secession? Simple. Director Johansson sets this movie in 2016. I cannot see Washington completing its fascistic dream. I don’t believe that the United States will be a 50-state “nation” when that year rolls around. But this movie does like high speed trains, and Washington is nothing if not a train, picking up speed, hurtling toward the end of the line. When DC derails, the carnage will be an historic event felt around the world, not just from “Ocean to Ocean” (Dagny’s company motto).

When Rand released this book in 1957, she didn’t envision a Washington that would eventually commit suicide by destroying the very life blood of commerce, its money supply. In 1957, there was still Silver Certificate paper currency that could actually be redeemed at any bank for real silver. I don’t remember reading anything about trillion-dollar borrowing, or multiple-trillions in government debt predominantly held by other nations, or a Congress who cannot stop itself from spending.

And what about that mystical Atlantis known as “Galt’s Gulch,” where capitalists are respected and revered? By 2016, at least some of the states of the Union will have seen the bleak future and will have seceded, if for no other reason than simple survival. I cannot imagine a scenario in which the US Dollar has not collapsed, and Zimbabwe-style hyperinflation has not crushed America by 2016. Just keep remembering how the Soviet Union disintegrated. America must follow that lead, although Washington could make it much worse. Then again, if the rest of the world stops propping up the dollar, the USA could go away just like the USSR did…with a whimper, not a bang.

The main thing about secession that is disappointing to me is that the people who have destroyed the United States will never face a firing squad or stand on the gallows for what they’ve done. And the gas chamber is too humane for them.

Bottom line about this movie is that I paid $8.50 for sumptuous visuals and not much else.

Part One runs about 100 minutes. I have no idea when the other two episodes will be released. I’ll catch the next two installments when Netflix carries them.

DumpDC. Six Letters Than Can Change History.

© Copyright 2011, Russell D. Longcore. Permission to reprint in whole or in part is gladly granted, provided full credit is given.

For no particular reason, Here is a bonus video, Alannah Myles from 1989 doing “Black Velvet.” Few things are hotter to your Editor than a curvy woman wearing a man’s style shirt. Kind of like opening a wrapped gift, if you know what I mean.