I have updated this review and renamed it, see here
I just saw the New York showing of the Atlas Shrugged Part I movie. This is a brief review of it. If you would rather watch the movie first before reading a review–which is what I would do and recommend–please do not read any further.
1. Firstly, making a movie is a large-scale endeavor, and working over a decade to actually bring the movie to fruition required considerable tenacity, resourcefulness and purposefulness–I must thank especially John Aglialoro, the producer who spearheaded the project, for making that happen.
2. I found that this is a sincere attempt to portray Atlas Shrugged–the production team genuinely liked and respected Atlas Shrugged and it appears they tried their best to portray it to the best of their ability within the constraints they had.
3. My overall impression of the movie can best be described by an analogy. Few years ago, I attempted to study the Ancient Greek culture. I did so by immersion into Greek literature, visual arts, history, philosophy, science, descriptions of daily life and customs, learning rudiments of Ancient Greek language and visiting Greece. I found that the Ancient Greek culture to be so dramatically and radically different from the culture around us–that most modern attempts to portray the culture captured only the outward trappings while missing the core view of man that animates the culture.
4. This movie does a good job of capturing the political, economics and social aspects of Atlas Shrugged while missing the deeper moral, psychological, epistemological and metaphysical aspects of the novel. As someone who deeply loves Atlas Shrugged, and knows that the heart of Ayn Ran’s achievement is metaphysical, epistemological, psychological and moral, I was left with a sense of emptiness–of seeing something that on the surface looks like Atlas Shrugged, but with something critical missing.
5. Please interpret this criticism in the light of the fact that making an Atlas Shrugged movie that matches the novel would require an artistic achievement of the order of Ayn Rand’s own. Capturing the political, economic and social aspects of the novel is an achievement–and I certainly enjoyed seeing that brought to life on the screen.
6. The movie version of Ayn Rand’s characters were oddly similar to people that I see in New York everyday–they talked, looked, moved, and related to each other somewhat like most people do today–not in the highly stylized manner of the novel’s characters. I had the odd sensation that I was watching a world half-way between Ayn Rand’s world and my New York today–a hybrid of naturalism and romanticism. The clearest and most damaging way in which this was executed was by unnecessary replacement of Ayn Rand’s dialog by screen writers own. My guess is that having the characters talk more like most people today was an attempt to make the characters more “believable”.
7. The good portrayal of Hank Rearden, and a dramatic and innovative use of “Who is John Galt?” lines were the highlight of the movie for me. The production quality was high and the movie is well executed visually.
8. I again thank the production team for making this movie and encourage my friends to see it–it is not an experience you want to miss.
9. Though I know next to nothing about movie making I have one sure-fire advice that can make Atlas Shrugged Part II significantly better while reducing production costs–please, please use more of Ayn Rand’s lines.