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"Atlas Shrugged" Movie

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Most people on this forum don't think with their nuts anyway.

I just watched it about five minutes ago. Part one of the three piece film will be released in only two months. Who else has seen it - (and who is looking into it now because of this post)? Good.

Does anyone else find that "If you double cross me, I will destroy you." line more fit for an Oliver Stone villain than an AR hero?

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I've thought about how Atlas Shrugged could adapted into a move many a time. It's a huge challenge.

What I keep coming back to in my mind is the early part of the book when it's all about Rearden Metal and the railway business. It's such a compelling story at that point, even before the reader has grasped the true meaning of events. I think the millions of people who read AS, even the ones that end up hating it, are fairly enraptured by the heroic industrialists and their struggle early on - the disagreements come later.

IMO the best way to make a movie would be to focus only on that part. Leave out Galt's gulch and the collapse of society and Ragnar and the epic speeches, Stadler, Project X etc. All that stuff explicitly stated/narrated in the book would need to be symbolically/implicitly handled in the film. Leaving the 'who is John Galt' mystery unsettled could also be effective (it would be memorably, and lead viewers to do further research)

And maybe, in fact, call the movie 'Who is John Galt?' rather than 'Atlas Shrugged' (owing to the fact that a full adaptation is extremely impractical)

So, say the synopsis was something like this:

Hank Rearden has invented a new type of metal - stronger, lighter, cheaper than all alternatives

(this could be the opening scene. a shot of one rod of Rearden metal bending under a stress test, symbolizing the strain of socialism on industry, with the testers excitedly counting the units of pressure/stress until it breaks the record and they realize they've 'done it')

Dagny Taggart is running a once mighty rail network that is collapsing under the weight of regulation/unfair competition

Taggart becomes interested in purchasing Rearden metal, even though rival suppliers are smearing it and the government is casting its evil eye on Rearden's property

As events advance, it becomes clear that Rearden metal is VITAL to the survival of Taggart Transcontinental. They need it to build a bridge of great strategic/trade value, something that could transform fortunes

The Rearden metal bridge takes on additional symbolic meaning (think the marlin in The Old Man and the Sea), as rivals, enemies, government bodies throw all sorts of obstacles in the way, but Dagny and Hank will get it built, everything else be damned.

Meanwhile, as 'things get bad' in the economy, the phrase 'Who is John Galt' keeps popping up. Dagny learns by chance that Galt was an engineer at 20th Century Motors who was working on a revolutionary engine. She decides to track this down (could turn out to be as vital as Rearden metal, she thinks). She and Hank eventually find the factory ruins, maybe hear the microcosmic history of the motor company's downfall, and discover the broken remains of Galt's engine. They think for a while about about what the engine would mean if working and what sort of mind could have created it, then Dagny has it shipped back to her engineering division for inspection.

Unbeknownst to Dagny and the audience, John Galt actually works as an engineer at TT. He's been in the film already, talking to Eddie about the state of the company etc (maybe somehow 'off camera' like in the book, but inconspicuously). Galt receives the engine and files a report not revealing his true understanding of its properties.

The bridge is finally competed but the looters have conspired to make actually running a train over it almost impossible. Public is convinced that the metal is unsafe, the bridge will collapse, and Dagny cannot even source a working diesel/engine for the 'maiden voyage.' This is where Galt steps in and hooks up his motor to one of the engines in for repair. Nobody realizes this until Galt arrives with the locomotive (miraculously running without emitting steam/smoke) and finally introduces himself to Dagny and Hank (who are about to 'defy death' and ride the train across the bridge themselves). While the gathered media watch in amazement, Dagny has no time to wonder and presses ahead with the schedule.

So the scene from the book follows until they are halfway across the bridge, at which point something goes wrong and the train grinds to a halt with the national media watching (though the bridge holds up, which in itself proves the stability). Galt has disengaged his motor, detached it, and proceeds to tuft it over the side into the canyon below, before disappearing from the scene. Takes a while for the others to realize what's happened.

Dagny and Hank and the rest of the crew make their way back on foot, the bridge and the train a frozen monument to technological progress. They are met by clamouring observers and reporters who are amazed that the metal is safe and even more amazed at the motor and its destruction. They demand to know who the saboteur was. Dagny tells them it was the man who designed the motor. They demand to know his name. Hank Rearden smiles and says 'who is John Galt?' A reporter puts two-and-two together and says 'Wait, you mean that was John Galt? The John Galt?' Dagny nods, to widespread astonishment. They start walking off, but another reporter manages to ask 'But who is this John Galt, exactly? Why's he so important?' Dagny stops and says '... He was Prometheus who changed his mind.' (or whatever the line in the book is) Camera pulls back, THE END, credits roll.

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Tchaikovsky's 1st Piano Concerto would be a good choice of music (for the whole movie, even, not just the end)

Galt's fellow strikers could make little cameo appearances and be identified by dollar sign cigarettes. D'Anconio could do a shortened version of his money speech at some point. Little easter eggs for the fans here and there. Galt's last line as he escapes from the scene past the crowd could be 'get the hell out of my way.'

The important thing is to show the looters in a negative light and the industrialists in a heroic light, but they cannot triumph completely. Rather, Galt's action at the end reveals the whole dynamic of 'the strike,' and communicates it effectively to the entire nation.

Rearden's family and James Taggart and other industry/political undesirables can be major characters. The Hank/Dagny romance can happen, culminating on the train. Perhaps Rearden's court case. Other events (ie. strikes) can be mentioned or hinted at. The story of the 20th Century Motor Company should allow a fairly explicit statement of the overall message of Atlas Shrugged.

I think this makes for a clear, focussed plot with plenty of suspense/conflict; AND a good mystery to make the ending memorable (with Galt finally showing up).

Thoughts, anyone?

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Well, there seems to be some harsh opinions on the cast. I don't agree they're bad. At least, let's give them a chance

They have been given a chance, in every film or tv show prior to their casting in this movie. There is a reason why we look at the film history of some of this cast on imdb and the common reaction is either a sigh or a moan. This is a B and C cast. This is one hell of a hard book to make into a movie to begin with. The chances of it being decent without a proper hollywood cast or at least enough of a budget to supplant a cult classic type film (Blokamp's film for instance) makes the chances of this product being anything of real quality quite slim.

Edited by CapitalistSwine
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One of the best novelettes in science fiction is Isaac Asimov's "Nightfall." As stories of global catastrophes go, it's probably the best, though it doesn't take place on Earth. Many serious SF fans, and many Asimov fans, refused to read it because they'd seen parts of a horrible low-budget movie adaptation.

That's what could happen to Atlas Shrugged. Better no movie than a terrible movie.

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One of the best novelettes in science fiction is Isaac Asimov's "Nightfall." As stories of global catastrophes go, it's probably the best, though it doesn't take place on Earth. Many serious SF fans, and many Asimov fans, refused to read it because they'd seen parts of a horrible low-budget movie adaptation.

That's what could happen to Atlas Shrugged. Better no movie than a terrible movie.

Yes, that was one weirdass movie. Another misadaptation that has caused similar problems occurred with a much higher budget and much larger advertising budget, and that was Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein. Though not Objectivist by any means the book was a very philosophical work and the movie became a story about a bunch of soldiers running around killing Bugs. (The power suits disappeared too, but the book wasn't really about the powersuits either.)

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They have been given a chance, in every film or tv show prior to their casting in this movie. There is a reason why we look at the film history of some of this cast on imdb and the common reaction is either a sigh or a moan. This is a B and C cast. This is one hell of a hard book to make into a movie to begin with. The chances of it being decent without a proper hollywood cast or at least enough of a budget to supplant a cult classic type film (Blokamp's film for instance) makes the chances of this product being anything of real quality quite slim.

Indeed. The most respectable individual involved in this film, according to IMDb, is the film scorer, James Horner.

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Yes, that was one weirdass movie.

Oh, yes. I know several people who saw parts of it, but none who saw it all.

Another misadaptation that has caused similar problems occurred with a much higher budget and much larger advertising budget, and that was Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein. [..] (The power suits disappeared too, but the book wasn't really about the powersuits either.)

The only good thing in the movie was Denise Richards.

I was very much surprised they didn't go with the power suits, considering how visually impressive they are. After all the movie was a visual effects extravaganza.

Just remember D'kian's first law of Hollywood: Nothing is so simple that Hollywood can't f**** it up beyond all recognition.

And D'kian's Third Law: A love triangle is Hollywood's idea of depth and conflict.

I shudder when I think of that plus Francisco, Hank, John and Dagny.

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D'kian, I think we need to be realistic. Yes, the romance(s) will be played up. A movie concentrating on philosophic speeches just isn't going to draw people. At the moment, I can't think of any movie that was able to sustain itself on ideas alone. And these will be NEW and CONTRARY ideas to the viewers. Sorry, but I think the romance will be the draw. The spread of ideas will be the effect of having people come in and see the movie. (BTW, I never did see Michael Douglas in Wall Street. Did that have a romantic element?)

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Oh, yes. I know several people who saw parts of it, but none who saw it all.

The only good thing in the movie was Denise Richards.

I was very much surprised they didn't go with the power suits, considering how visually impressive they are. After all the movie was a visual effects extravaganza.

Just remember D'kian's first law of Hollywood: Nothing is so simple that Hollywood can't f**** it up beyond all recognition.

And D'kian's Third Law: A love triangle is Hollywood's idea of depth and conflict.

I shudder when I think of that plus Francisco, Hank, John and Dagny.

What's D'kian's Second law?

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D'kian, I think we need to be realistic. Yes, the romance(s) will be played up. A movie concentrating on philosophic speeches just isn't going to draw people. At the moment, I can't think of any movie that was able to sustain itself on ideas alone. And these will be NEW and CONTRARY ideas to the viewers. Sorry, but I think the romance will be the draw. The spread of ideas will be the effect of having people come in and see the movie. (BTW, I never did see Michael Douglas in Wall Street. Did that have a romantic element?)

Dagny's affair with Hank is an important element in the plot; ie the story would have been different if they hadn't been sleeping together (wouldn't have found John's motor, for one thing). Her past affair with Francisco is important to the back story, and provides some of the conflict between Francisco and Hank. All that should be in the movie.

But Dagny carries out her romances sequentially. There is no love triangle at any point.

In the Fountainhead, there is one involving Roark, Dominic and Wynand.

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Dagny's affair with Hank is an important element in the plot; ie the story would have been different if they hadn't been sleeping together (wouldn't have found John's motor, for one thing). Her past affair with Francisco is important to the back story, and provides some of the conflict between Francisco and Hank. All that should be in the movie.

But Dagny carries out her romances sequentially. There is no love triangle at any point.

In the Fountainhead, there is one involving Roark, Dominic and Wynand.

Well, here I must admit I'm almost sure the powers that be will turn things into a triangle/quadrangle. Yeah, that'll be a pity. I'm trying to be positive, but a person can't have everything! I'm tryin to figure out if spicing up the romance(s) is worth getting the message out. I hope so.

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Well, here I must admit I'm almost sure the powers that be will turn things into a triangle/quadrangle. Yeah, that'll be a pity. I'm trying to be positive, but a person can't have everything! I'm tryin to figure out if spicing up the romance(s) is worth getting the message out. I hope so.

What I fear is some idiot will amke a Dagny/Hank/Francisco love triangle the central theme of the movie. Worse yet, a Dagny/Hank/Eddie love triangle.

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I'll reiterate: Eddie Willers as main character. He's the 'soul of the audience'. We view AS from the periphery, with a focus on Galt, Dagny, and Jim Taggart. Best way to do an AS movie.

This is an interesting suggestion....and one I have not heard of before...Considering the realizations of the shallowness of the American public in general when it comes to the art of film, no less other central themes of the story, particularly the inherent philosophical overtones...this may be the ideal form of an Atlas Shrugged movie. I will contemplate on this.

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I'll reiterate: Eddie Willers as main character. He's the 'soul of the audience'. We view AS from the periphery, with a focus on Galt, Dagny, and Jim Taggart. Best way to do an AS movie.

I think it's not a bad idea but it'd need a major rewrite of the story, since AS is told mainly from Dagny's perspective (and a few other perspectives) and Eddie is not always involved. Any idea how to solve that?

The synopsis I posted, I've tried to condense the story into a standard 3-act format (like most movies) and distill the essence of AS rather than reproduce the whole thing.

Act I: introduce Taggart Transcontinental and Rearden Steal, the state of the economy, Hank meets Dagny

Act II: the looters step up their antics, the construction of the bridge becomes the focus of the struggle, discovery of Galt's unfinished engine

Act III: bridge is completed and the heroes attempt to ride the first train across it

i think AS is so epic and episodic that it'd wind up longer than Lawrence of Arabia. For a movie it's not enough just to trim it, take out the long speeches and suchlike, but whole episodes of the story need to be pruned until there's a single story arc IMO

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I'll reiterate: Eddie Willers as main character. He's the 'soul of the audience'. We view AS from the periphery, with a focus on Galt, Dagny, and Jim Taggart. Best way to do an AS movie.

I also think this is an interesting idea. This is kind of like that graphic novel "Marvels" which told the stories of some of the most popular Marvel superheroes through the eyes of ordinary people.

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I don't like the sound of this. This new director seems to be relatively unexperienced, and they're making it in two parts instead of 3. Also, the Dagny and Rearden actors are actually pretty decent un terms of what I thought they looked like, but the guy playing Galt looks like a tool. This doesn't look good (in more ways than one.)

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First, any link to pictures of actors and things?

Second, my Eddie Willers idea proposes an entire rewrite, a completely new story essentially. This new story would have to conform precisely with the plot, characters, and themes of AS, but would both be more suited to a feature-length film as well as help make AS a little more immune to being ruined.

I'd say the movie would introduce Willers like the first chapter of the book does (and you could argue that the final chapter featured him too - what followed was just an epilogue). From there it follows his efforts to 'live up' to the people he admires. Now, was he in love with Dagny? What did he do when we weren't seeing him? You'd have to answer those questions without making the answers too important. You might, for example, want to include a love interest, or a family conflict that AS never mentioned, but which it didn't preclude.

Throughout this 'personal' conflict, Eddie works with Dagny on the bridge, meets Rearden, talks about what's going on in the world with Galt - whom we see exclusively in the cafeteria. We might even be privy to new dialogue. Galt, genius that he is, let's Eddie answer all the questions he poses.

I just think you couldn't make a feature-length - even triology - version of AS. Impossible. So you have to come up with something new that fits, while preserving the integrity of the source material.

Eddie Willers is someone who is a 'good' guy, but who needs the heroes in order to be good. AS may have been written for the Hank Reardens of the world (it seems like), but the movie will be written for the Eddie Willers.

So the message, instead of: go on strike (those to which this applies are perfectly capable of reading the book) will be: don't let the men of the mind go on strike. To help the common man perceive and appreciate the value available to them because of properly integrated philosophy (or, 'freedom' and 'capitalism'). AS is really not about what's good for the common man - that's not the moral emphasis. But it just so happens that what's good for the producers is good for the common man. And the movie would exist to show them that. Which is perfectly fine.

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