Atlas Shrugged, Part I
Ronald G. Pittenger
Yesterday, at long last, I was able to see Part I of Atlas Shrugged. I’ve been waiting for it since I first read the book in 1961. The running time of 102 minutes flashed by in what seemed only half an hour or so.
It is unfortunate
Rand chose railroading as her vehicle for the story, as this may make it more difficult for younger people to suspend belief. Even when I read the novel, railroads were already in deep decline from their heyday in the 40s. The movie solves this by making the fairly reasonable assumption that oil prices will continue to rise, at one point mentioning a pump price of $37+ per gallon of gasoline. At prices like that, railroads would be a reasonable alternative to automobiles, trucks, and a small fraction of the cost of air travel.
Having the benefit of being familiar with the novel, I was neither put off nor disappointed with the focus on humans, especially business people, being portrayed as capable of heroism. This is the natural, everyday condition of every person engaged in business, whether as an employee or as an entrepreneur. Overcoming obstacles is just an everyday occurrence. It is visible to anyone (who pays attention) visiting a local convenience store and realizing only four or five employees are running a 24/7/365 business. Their wisdom may be questionable, but not their determination or courage. The locals quickly come to depend on that store to be there—and open—when they need it with the necessities they require, toilet paper, diapers, food and drink, etc. In other businesses, it may be more difficult to see, but it is there, just the same.
While the movie isn’t “politically partisan,” it is, like the novel, in praise of individual accomplishment. It proposes that the most valuable members of society, the producers, be treated as the great value that they are, rather than demonized; set as free as possible instead of being hemmed in and hobbled by every regulation that can be thought up by control-seeking beancounters. It is a logically justifiable philosophy raised to art.
The story-line is, as the novel dictates, that the most creative people are disappearing, vanishing without a trace, and taking with them their intellect and ability that had made the world better for everyone else. It is hinted that they simply won’t put up with being everyone else’s whipping boy anymore.
The casting seemed excellent with only two exceptions, Dr. Stadtler and Dr. Akston both seemed much too young for their characters’ implied ages and authority (heads of departments at a university). The acting was good, faithful to the characters in the novel, neither over-the-top nor underplayed. Costuming and sets were excellent, as were the frequent outdoor background shots, most of which could be seen any clear, cold day in today’s
New York City or . Colorado
The only thing that struck me as odd was the jazz band at a party scene seemed anachronistic—but, I don’t attend many parties of the super-rich, so maybe that’s the norm. The music was pleasant, just unexpected.
I suppose my only real complaint is the movie was too short. I really hope the other parts, I’m assuming two, get made. I can hardly wait to see them.