Atlas Shrugged: From Book to Movie
by Olivia Rossi RN
Your Personal Trainer
I read Atlas Shrugged when I was in my early 50s at the recommendation of my son who was in his early 20s. That was in 2003. It took me two months to finish the 1138 pages. It was gripping, intriguing and thought provoking. When I heard it had been made into a movie, I wondered how long it would be! The Cliff Notes alone are the size of a small paperback!
Part I of III was released most fittingly on April 15, 2011 to be followed annually on the same date in 2012 and 2013 by Parts II and III. So, let me tell you a little about the book and my thoughts on how I felt it transitioned into the movie.
If you haven’t read it, read it. If you have, you’ll know what I mean when I say it was gripping. Ayn Rand wrote it in 1957. Much like her protagonist, Dagny Taggart, Ayn Rand was a woman in a man’s world. In 1957, that was not so common and, while the book was written in 1957, the movie is set in 2016 where a woman in a man’s world is not such an anomaly.
The theme of the book is clear: individual rights, a free market economy and limited government. It was widely read and still is. It is not universally loved. There are those on one side who agree with the fiscally conservative theme but find the socially liberal aspect unacceptable and there are those on the other side who support the socially liberal beliefs and find the fiscally conservative philosophy not to their liking. I’m not here to debate that. I’m just here to tell you if I think the movie did justice to the book and find out from you what you thought.
To put it as succinctly and professionally as I can: I loved it! I cannot tell you how I would have felt had I seen the movie without reading the book. In the book, Ayn Rand developed her characters and their relationships with great depth and with a great many words, paragraphs, pages and, yes, often chapters. The characters in the movie had that depth and related to each other in a way that was clear to me but perhaps that was because I had read the book and already knew the characters. The chemistry between Dagny and Hank Reardon was clear from the opening scene in the movie because of the ideology that they shared. Dagny, in contrast to her brother James, had a strong, decisive character and knew how to save the family business and did it with the help and support of those who shared her ideology and passion.
One of the interesting and striking features of the movie grew out of the philosophy of the book. The message of the book was clear and translated with simplicity, even brevity, to the film, considering the length of the book. It was true to the book. There were no surprise changes, nothing was detracted from the original content of the book. The independence of the film mirrored the fierce independence of Dagny, Hank and, of course, the central, mysterious character of John Galt.
Those of us who read and loved every word and were sad to reach that last page, leaving those characters behind, were not disappointed in the film. I didn’t recognize a single actor in the movie and that was a definite advantage. I was returned to the world of Atlas Shrugged, a world I first met in the pages a book but that now was in front of me on the big screen. The scenery spanned a range from the depressing, dirty, big city streets and abandoned businesses, to the breathtakingly beautiful mountains, canyons and rivers of Colorado.
The most exciting scene was the successful merger of Reardon Metal and Dagny’s new John Galt Line that culminated in a high speed train ride winding along the river at over 200 miles per hour and crossing the sleek new bridge built with Reardon Metal. That scene spoke volumes in proving to the skeptics how an idea can grow into reality . . . and later, how reality can destroy an idea. Stay tuned for Part II. You have plenty of time to read the book before then!