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  1. #1
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    Atlas Shrugged parts 1 and 2 (the movies)

    Sorry to say I still enjoy films a bit more than books so I often check out a story I've heard of but never dived into. Some stories don't do well as films but its just a format I enjoy more and generally takes less of my time.

    Anyhow, I know that this book has been discussed before but its STB so I'm shooting some anyway.

    Thing of it is, I liked the movies despite also rolling my eyes at them repeatedly. Considering they had to be independently funded to some degree they look great, the sound is good, and the direction is pretty decent.

    And I like the story, I had something a bit like that as the backstory for a role playing game I called "Rock World" Rock world was mostly silly but it involved the smart and productive part of the population moving to the moon and leaving the rest of humanity on earth with automated factories that would make all the basic goods anyone could ever need at no cost. Not exactly the same but the core idea was about on par. So it resonated with me.

    And I even share some sliver of the political view. I like individualism, I do think we have to value ambitions people, and I'm very much fond of capitalism.

    Now for the critique. I don't know how faithful these are, but I assume pretty darn faithful considering the folks involved who seem to be doing these films as a labor of love for the work and for Rynd and her ideals. Also note the series is not finished so all I've seen is part 1 and 2. Apparently the film adaptation of a 70 page speech has yet to be unfurled on us. (sometime in 2014 they say)

    What strikes me is how simple minded the dialog, characters, and plot points are. The message is driven home with all the subtlety of a 600 pound man on roller skates. The actors are good but the lines sound like the work of a not so gifted teenager and character motivations seem to come from other worldly sources that make little sense.

    The "bad guys" are like a ridiculous cartoon version of a few different sorts of ideologies mixed together which makes the whole critique sound like its coming from a crack pot rather than a serious thinker. I suppose if its all supposed to be more a sort of metaphor that excuses it but that is not the impression I got.

    On one side you have these brilliant and capable men and women of industry who are amazing inventors, lovers, thinkers, moralists etc... And on the other you have incompetent, stupid, vein, immoral and foolish stooges of the state. Yet the idiots are clearly winning any and all conflicts despite their innumerable handicaps and the brilliant minds are virtually powerless to stop them. To me this was the most fatal flaw of the plot. It would be far better to show the opposition as having formidable intelligence but limited morality, but then of course they wouldn't have such utterly daft economic policies.

    I'll skip my critique of the philosophy itself, I sympathize but I think its narrow minded and a bit simpleton in its absolute ideology. The world is a complicated place and people are complicated critters. Society has to sort out how the brilliant can live along side the not so brilliant and still make a go of things.
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  2. #2
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    Re: Atlas Shrugged parts 1 and 2 (the movies)

    The change in actors from one movie to another really threw me. It took me about 30 mins of the second movie to settle into that.

    The story line is faithful, the dialogue is not. In the book the dialogue points are more extensive and their compression doesn't carry well. Especially given the fact that Rand normally relies on silent response by her protagonists rather than an emotional response. The whole point of the book is that the protagonists are beyond caring any more, the films use far too much emotional wrenching to make up for internal narration present in the book.

    I wasn't really a fan of Rand's protagonists in the book either. They seemed a bit hollow, a bit simplistic, their interactions were often times just hand waved where it was assumed they would get along. Rand often overlooks normal interpersonal dynamics and the obvious intelligence of her protagonists in an effort to make her larger point.

    What I disagree with Sig on is the villains. As with much of Rand's work, I usually read her conclusions in the following order: Agree, yes!, Definitely!, wait what?, Not sure how that follows, nope. The same is true in Atlas Shrugged. What really stands out though, both here and in Anthem is her characterization of her antagonists. I think she was dead on in how she wrote them (at least until the last half of the last section, they get a bit desperate and I think unrealistic for the last 100 pages, IE after the Speech).

    I think they are so dead on in fact, I often found people on here making the exact points that Mouch or James Taggart made in the book. It was eery to read then watch Sebilius on the Hill, she made comments that were almost identical to Chick Morrison, it was even referenced in a Democracy Underground article.

    They weren't perfect characters of course, they are a bit too selfish, even as the antagonists, which I don't think really is what drives the "looters" of our world (though many of them).

    I also think that Sig misses the point in Rand's work when he doesn't see why the looters are winning (that is the third section of the book). The short answer is, they have the guns. And I think that that is a completely valid point. You can be brilliant, you can be moral, but if the other side has the only legitimate use of force, you lose. When the other side can audit your taxes for expressing a dissenting opinion, raid your factory for questioning policy, shut down suppliers for amicus briefs, the system gets out of whack (and I think she is correct this far in her argument).

    What most overlook (and to be fair it is a minor part of the book) is that those who are not brilliant are taken care of in Rand's vision through the mutual exchange of benefits. She even, extremely briefly, argues for private charity for objectivist reasons (and then proceeds to destroy the concept for fifteen pages, where she again lost me). The heroes can live with everyone else just fine, it just can't be done through a "requirement" or "obligation" on the hero, but through a voluntary, self interested reason.
    "Suffering lies not with inequality, but with dependence." -Voltaire
    "Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions. -G.K. Chesterton
    Also, if you think I've overlooked your post please shoot me a PM, I'm not intentionally ignoring you.


  3. #3
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    Re: Atlas Shrugged parts 1 and 2 (the movies)

    I dug both movies. I liked the casting better in the first. My only real complaint was that every time someone said "Who is John Galt" it felt...really forced. Like these were actors saying the lines. I don't know about other people, maybe I'm just weird and escapist like this, but when I read a book, I don't just read it. I move into it. I'll quote it for weeks. I'll daydream that I'm in it. Not even a main character either. I'll actively daydream I'm a background character, totally unimportant to the plot. Like, I can see myself as the Imperial Pilot who just stands in the hangar while the rebels attack the death star. I can see myself being THAT guy. Just hanging out.

    So when I watched, and saw the way people were saying it, it took me out of it every single time. Having said that, I thought the dialogue for the most part was well done. But I went in to the movies with the expectation that EVERYTHING that wasn't Randian in nature was about to stomped on in some way. Best Ayn Rand book that needs to be made into a movie? Anthem.

    The thing that got me though, that seemed oddly untouched, was that there's no real discussion as to how/why people start saying the brother at Taggert Transcontinental was the brainchild behind the John Galt line. I don't remember if how that shift took place came about, but it seemed weird considering the unveiling of it showed Rearden and Dagney together on television...as an independent line...that was no longer a Taggert owned line. I assumed that, being above it all, she just sold it back to her brother and liquidated her two-man company after she achieved her goal and proved her point, but I think that needed some exposition of some kind.

    I hated Rearden's wife too. Just throwin it out there. What a useless sack of meat. Stupid, obnoxious, she wasn't even super hot (and she would HAVE to be to make up for the whole be an obnoxious moron thing). We're watching it, and I can't remember if it was me or the wife who suggested just melting her in the mill.
    But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
    1 Peter 3:15-16

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  5. #4
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    Re: Atlas Shrugged parts 1 and 2 (the movies)

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Hyde View Post
    Best Ayn Rand book that needs to be made into a movie? Anthem.
    Agreed, I actually think it is a better book than Atlas Shrugged. I heard it as an audiobook with the Classic Tales podcast, pretty well done too.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Hyde
    I don't remember if how that shift took place came about,
    In the book it comes from an interview that he does that Dagny refuses to go to, on Mr. Scudder's show if I remember right. There were a couple of times in the movie where the skim over transitions like that.
    "Suffering lies not with inequality, but with dependence." -Voltaire
    "Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions. -G.K. Chesterton
    Also, if you think I've overlooked your post please shoot me a PM, I'm not intentionally ignoring you.


  6. #5
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    Re: Atlas Shrugged parts 1 and 2 (the movies)

    Quote Originally Posted by Sigfried View Post
    Sorry to say I still enjoy films a bit more than books so I often check out a story I've heard of but never dived into. Some stories don't do well as films but its just a format I enjoy more and generally takes less of my time.
    I enjoy books more than their on screen counterparts typically, but I find that most of those books I would have never found if it were not for the shows. LOTR's, Game of Thrones, etc.
    I will no longer be replying to any post from a Liberal going forward. I will continue, as normal, to discuss topics and engage in intellectual exchanges with non-leftist

  7. #6
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    Re: Atlas Shrugged parts 1 and 2 (the movies)

    I watched both today and found them amusing. I appreciated the science fiction aspects. I also liked Reardon and generally liked the first movie over the second. Reardon was the only one I really saw as anyone with something to bitch about.

    Taggert, well, you haven't replaced the rails in 100 years and who's fault is that? The 'takers'? Looked like your board room was full of those.

    I can understand the frustration with the shake downs. But to quit, move the town a few miles down the road, move the factory to another state or country...well, I guess that's what they do. I like a story like "Flash of Genius" better. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1054588/

    I'd like to know more about what happened at the 20th Century plant.
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  8. #7
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    Re: Atlas Shrugged parts 1 and 2 (the movies)

    Quote Originally Posted by Squatch347 View Post
    Agreed, I actually think it is a better book than Atlas Shrugged. I heard it as an audiobook with the Classic Tales podcast, pretty well done too.
    I remember capping out the story, and thinking, wow, the story never slows or dips. It starts slow, then gradually builds speed and intensity and actually finishes on an upward stroke with no actual climax. I was blown away. That, and it actually makes what she tried to get across easily understood.
    Quote Originally Posted by Squatch347 View Post
    In the book it comes from an interview that he does that Dagny refuses to go to, on Mr. Scudder's show if I remember right. There were a couple of times in the movie where the skim over transitions like that.
    That kind of sucks. But it's not a big loss. I just hope I don't walk into part 3 with more cast changes, or if they do change cast members, maybe change them back to the ones from part one (dude from Defiance as Rearden is just better).
    Quote Originally Posted by CowboyX View Post
    Taggert, well, you haven't replaced the rails in 100 years and who's fault is that? The 'takers'? Looked like your board room was full of those.
    IIRC, Dagny had mentioned something about the Rio Norte line needing to be repaired, but her brother and the board actively stood in the way because they wanted Orren Boil(sp?) to supply the steel, and he hadn't been able to for over 13 months. Dagny wanted to use Rearden and his new metal, but the board (and her brother) opposed it because of some asinine anti-monopoly "It's not loyalty to whatever" mentality. In a sense...yeah it is their fault.
    [
    Quote Originally Posted by CowboyX View Post
    I'd like to know more about what happened at the 20th Century plant.
    If memory serves, a guy there built that engine. And shortly thereafter, the plant changed managerial styles and started inacting a policy of people being paid based on need, rather than ability or some such thing (They referenced, "From each according to his ability, to each according to his need"). When that happened, the engineer and his accompaniment abandoned the work and the facility, and John Galt was born.
    Last edited by Squatch347; January 13th, 2014 at 05:23 AM. Reason: tag fix
    But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
    1 Peter 3:15-16

  9. #8
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    Re: Atlas Shrugged parts 1 and 2 (the movies)

    Quote Originally Posted by CowboyX View Post
    Taggert, well, you haven't replaced the rails in 100 years and who's fault is that? The 'takers'? Looked like your board room was full of those.
    I can certainly understand this point from watching the movie. In the book Rand's criticism is more clear in that the Board is largely made up of three types of people each representing a category of "sinners" in her view.

    1) Government looters, the worst for Rand. The board has mandatory labor representatives (which are common in Europe and some states require them in the US) and regulatory observers (also very common).

    2) Supporters of the looters. They are normal Board appointees, like Jim Taggert, who buy into the redistributive philosophy.

    3) Those who have given up. Normal Board appointees who would normally work hard to make things profitable and act as Rand would consider virtuous. However, due to the long history of being punished for success they have lost that drive and simply acquiesce to 1 and 2.

    Quote Originally Posted by Cowboy
    I'd like to know more about what happened at the 20th Century plant.
    You learn a lot about it in the books. I think it comes in the third movie. The guy who reveals it in the book is the guy who comes to fix her train that breaks down and has the hat in the movie.

    I'll summarize the actual story in the spoiler box:

    The company is taken over by the three kids of the founder. All three are college intellectuals and come with a "new plan" to run the plant based on "from each according to his ability to each according to his need." The book does a great job, and I think makes a powerful argument that this philosophy has moral implications for mens' relationships to each other. Akin to one of my signature quotes, the ability to get more if you can justify it makes each man wary of his neighbor. Will they have another baby I have to pay for? Will they invite their sister to live with them? Will they get sick? That relationship makes men hate each other and destroys the plant. Really she is obviously telling the story of the Soviet Union. People have no real incentive to produce strongly (if they do they are assumed to have greater ability and more is demanded of them) so they don't. Likewise they are incentivized to make choices that consume more resources thereby entitling them to a greater income. The result at the factory is the same as in the Soviet Union.


    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Hyde View Post
    I remember capping out the story, and thinking, wow, the story never slows or dips. It starts slow, then gradually builds speed and intensity and actually finishes on an upward stroke with no actual climax. I was blown away. That, and it actually makes what she tried to get across easily understood.
    Agreed, I have a much easier time pointing out my specific agreements/disagreements with her there than in Atlas Shrugged and I think it is because the philosophy is clearer.

    Quote Originally Posted by Mr Hyde
    That kind of sucks. But it's not a big loss. I just hope I don't walk into part 3 with more cast changes, or if they do change cast members, maybe change them back to the ones from part one (dude from Defiance as Rearden is just better).
    Yeah, I wouldn't count on it, it is pretty low budget. I saw a documentary about how the Godfather producer wanted to do this movie, but script approval negotiations fell through. He listed his cast and it was pretty damn good.


    Quote Originally Posted by Hyde
    IIRC, Dagny had mentioned something about the Rio Norte line needing to be repaired, but her brother and the board actively stood in the way because they wanted Orren Boil(sp?) to supply the steel, and he hadn't been able to for over 13 months. Dagny wanted to use Rearden and his new metal, but the board (and her brother) opposed it because of some asinine anti-monopoly "It's not loyalty to whatever" mentality. In a sense...yeah it is their fault.
    This is correct in the movie and book ^
    "Suffering lies not with inequality, but with dependence." -Voltaire
    "Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions. -G.K. Chesterton
    Also, if you think I've overlooked your post please shoot me a PM, I'm not intentionally ignoring you.


  10. #9
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    Re: Atlas Shrugged parts 1 and 2 (the movies)

    Quote Originally Posted by Squatch347 View Post
    I can certainly understand this point from watching the movie. In the book Rand's criticism is more clear in that the Board is largely made up of three types of people each representing a category of "sinners" in her view.

    1) Government looters, the worst for Rand. The board has mandatory labor representatives (which are common in Europe and some states require them in the US) and regulatory observers (also very common).

    2) Supporters of the looters. They are normal Board appointees, like Jim Taggert, who buy into the redistributive philosophy.

    3) Those who have given up. Normal Board appointees who would normally work hard to make things profitable and act as Rand would consider virtuous. However, due to the long history of being punished for success they have lost that drive and simply acquiesce to 1 and 2.

    Again, who's fault is that? Do these people just show up?
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    Re: Atlas Shrugged parts 1 and 2 (the movies)

    Quote Originally Posted by CowboyX View Post
    Again, who's fault is that? Do these people just show up?
    Well category 1 is the looter's fault right? It is the result of people voting to confiscate the labor of others for their own desires and whims.

    Category 2 is best explained by the train crash scene in the book where Rand highlights individuals on the train and how they contributed to the crash they die in. A philosopher that argues that there is no such thing as truth, a scientists who argues that here isn't an objective reality, etc. This group is largely products of the system they support, they bear the blame as well.

    Category 3 is where Rand and I disagree. She finds them unrighteous because they have given up the product of their minds to the looters. They are serving to perpetuate the system that enslaves the minds of men. I think they are pitiable, they have been broken by a world that takes their productivity for granted. They are part of a minority which the majority has chosen to indenture to others.
    "Suffering lies not with inequality, but with dependence." -Voltaire
    "Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions. -G.K. Chesterton
    Also, if you think I've overlooked your post please shoot me a PM, I'm not intentionally ignoring you.


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    Re: Atlas Shrugged parts 1 and 2 (the movies)

    Quote Originally Posted by Squatch347 View Post
    Well category 1 is the looter's fault right? It is the result of people voting to confiscate the labor of others for their own desires and whims.

    Category 2 is best explained by the train crash scene in the book where Rand highlights individuals on the train and how they contributed to the crash they die in. A philosopher that argues that there is no such thing as truth, a scientists who argues that here isn't an objective reality, etc. This group is largely products of the system they support, they bear the blame as well.

    Category 3 is where Rand and I disagree. She finds them unrighteous because they have given up the product of their minds to the looters. They are serving to perpetuate the system that enslaves the minds of men. I think they are pitiable, they have been broken by a world that takes their productivity for granted. They are part of a minority which the majority has chosen to indenture to others.
    Frpm the movies the only one that would fit in category three would be Reardon.
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    Re: Atlas Shrugged parts 1 and 2 (the movies)

    Quote Originally Posted by CowboyX View Post
    Frpm the movies the only one that would fit in category three would be Reardon.
    No I don't think that that is accurate. Rearden and Dagney are both Category III people, that is why Galt (later) calls her his enemy. For Rand, those that continue to produce and support the system that enables the behavior of I and II, regardless of whether they were fighting against it or acquiescing were morally problematic.

    From the Movie:

    Category 1:
    Wesley Mouch
    Phillip Rearden
    Herbert Mowen
    Dr. Robert Stadler
    Eugene Lawson

    Category 2:
    James Taggert (though he moves into Cat 1)
    Orren Boyle
    Lillian Rearden

    Category 3:
    Eddie Willers
    Paul Larkin (moves to cat 2 in first movie)
    Dagney Taggert
    Hank Rearden
    Ellis Wyatt (moves to cat 4 in movie 2)

    Category 4: (those on strike):
    John Galt
    Midas Mulligan
    Francisco D'Anconia
    Owen Kellogg
    Hugh Akston



    I think if we look at an image of the board room we can see that they generally fall into two categories.

    Click image for larger version. 

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    "Suffering lies not with inequality, but with dependence." -Voltaire
    "Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions. -G.K. Chesterton
    Also, if you think I've overlooked your post please shoot me a PM, I'm not intentionally ignoring you.


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    Re: Atlas Shrugged parts 1 and 2 (the movies)

    I'd put Lillian in category 1.
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    Re: Atlas Shrugged parts 1 and 2 (the movies)

    Quote Originally Posted by CowboyX View Post
    I'd put Lillian in category 1.
    I think you might be right there, especially if you consider her position in the books. I had forgotten her role in the movie as the one that informs on Hank and allows them to force the "gift certificate" from him. I think as it moves along she definitely does her best to get into category 1 (if she isn't already there as you point out).

    The more I think about it, I think all the Cat 2 people are seeking to be in Cat 1.
    "Suffering lies not with inequality, but with dependence." -Voltaire
    "Fallacies do not cease to be fallacies because they become fashions. -G.K. Chesterton
    Also, if you think I've overlooked your post please shoot me a PM, I'm not intentionally ignoring you.


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    Re: Atlas Shrugged parts 1 and 2 (the movies)

    I enjoyed the movies...honestly more so than the book which is tediously long. But then Ayn Rand was Russian and if you have ever read the Russian classics....this is typical. Must be those long Russian winters. The writers have too much time on their hand as do the readers. I maintain any Russian novel should be read while drinking vodka, this probably applies to Atlas Shrugged.

    That being said, a very good job was done of the movies considering its not your typical Hollywood production.

    Atlas Shrugged is not her best book though. I always found the Fountainhead to be far more representative of her true philosophy, far deeper, far better, far shorter, far more controversial.
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    Re: Atlas Shrugged parts 1 and 2 (the movies)

    I think often if you have a core relocatable story, that tends to trump other more refined qualities.

    In this case its that, plus the great mental imagery (even if its mythically "inaccurate") makes this a winner popularity wise.

    Interesting considering how badly the critics panned it, how most ODNers kind of enjoyed it.
    Feed me some debate pellets!

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    Re: Atlas Shrugged parts 1 and 2 (the movies)

    Quote Originally Posted by Sigfried View Post
    I think often if you have a core relocatable story, that tends to trump other more refined qualities.

    In this case its that, plus the great mental imagery (even if its mythically "inaccurate") makes this a winner popularity wise.

    Interesting considering how badly the critics panned it, how most ODNers kind of enjoyed it.
    Not particularly surprising considering that most movie critics are committed ideologues.
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    Re: Atlas Shrugged parts 1 and 2 (the movies)

    Quote Originally Posted by chadn737 View Post
    Not particularly surprising considering that most movie critics are committed ideologues.
    I've never really found that to be true, they tend to come in all stripes.

    I suspect its more to do with the dialog / plotting in the film which is pretty rough and the heavy handedness of its message delivery. I think it says more about us that we are happy to push past the dramatics to the underlying argument in the story and find the ideas more compelling than the artistry.
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