Skip to comments.P.J. O’Rourke: Atlas Shrugged. And So Did I
Posted on 04/12/2011 12:07:14 PM PDT by GSWarrior
Atlas shrugged. And so did I.
The movie version of Ayn Rands novel treats its source material with such formal, reverent ceremoniousness that the uninitiated will feel theyve wandered without a guide into the midst of the elaborate and interminable rituals of some obscure exotic tribe.
Atlas Shrugged presents other problems for a moviemaker. The book was published in 1957 and set in an America of the future. But time seems to have taken a U-turn, so that were back in a worse Great Depression with a more megalomaniacal business competition-loathing FDR-type administration. All sorts of things have been uninvented, such as oil pipelines so that oil has to be shipped by rail, railroads being the dominant form of transportation. Airplanes exist, but knowing where to fly them apparently doesnt, because a secret hidden unknown valley in the Rocky Mountains figures in the plot, which also hinges on a substance thats lighter and stronger than steel. This turns out to be a revolutionary new steel alloy! Because Rand forgot about plastics.
The Atlas Shrugged movie simply accepts these unimaginative imaginings. No attempt is made to create a future of the past atmosphere as in the movies about Batman (a very unRandian figure, trapped in his altruism costume drama). Nor is any attempt made to update Rands tale of Titans of Industry versus Gargantuas of government.
An update is needed, and not just because train buffs, New Deal economics and the miracle of the Bessemer converter are inexplicable to people under 50, not to mention boring. The anti-individu
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Hey PJ. You made me shrug!
Just one persons opinion. I and thousands of others will watch and make up our own minds. Then a decent discussion can come out of it.
But I will not pan Atlas Shrugged. I dont have the guts. If you associate with Randiansand I dosaying anything critical about Ayn Rand is almost as scary as saying anything critical to Ayn Rand. Whats more, given how protective Randians are of Rand, Im not sure shes dead.
The woman is a force. But, let us not forget, shes a force for good. Millions of people have read Atlas Shrugged and been brought around to common sense, never mind that the author and her characters dont exhibit much of it. Ayn Rand, perhaps better than anyone in the 20th century, understood that the individual self-seeking we call an evil actually stands in noble contrast to the real evil of self-seeking collectives. (A rather Randian sentence.) Its easy to make fun of Rand for being a simplistic philosopher, bombastic writer andIm just sayingcrazy old bat. But the 20th century was no joke. A hundred years, from Bolsheviks to Al Qaeda, were spent proving Ayn Rand right.
Not much of a review. Mr. O'Rourke sounds as if he is a disciple of Ellsworth Toohey offering criticism of one of Howard Roark's buildings.
When I heard Atlas Shrugged was being set in the present day, I knew it would present problems.
Don’t pan the article until you’ve read it.
It is a very respectful piece.
And if you won’t read it, at least read this part:
“Atlas Shrugged presents other problems for a moviemaker. The book was published in 1957 and set in an America of the future. But time seems to have taken a U-turn, so that were back in a worse Great Depression with a more megalomaniacal business competition-loathing FDR-type administration. All sorts of things have been uninvented, such as oil pipelines so that oil has to be shipped by rail, railroads being the dominant form of transportation. Airplanes exist, but knowing where to fly them apparently doesnt, because a secret hidden unknown valley in the Rocky Mountains figures in the plot, which also hinges on a substance thats lighter and stronger than steel. This turns out to be a revolutionary new steel alloy! Because Rand forgot about plastics.”
Dude. That’s funny.
* Ima Producer wrote:
Ayn Rand was the philosopher who called for an end to human sacrifices and cannibalism.
Ayn Rand was the philosopher who stated that reality exists.
Ayn Rand was the philosopher who stated that happiness not suffering can and should be the emotional state of mankind.
Ayn Rand was the philosopher who believed that freedom with its codification of the rights to life, liberty and property is the basis of a moral government.
Those who vilify Ayn Rand (and those individuals who through reason, not faith, have come to share these values) attack these beliefs and values. What does that say about what they believe in?
“An update is needed, and not just because train buffs, New Deal economics and the miracle of the Bessemer converter are inexplicable to people under 50, not to mention boring. The anti-individualist enemies that Ayn Rand battled are still the enemy, but theyve shifted their line of attack. Political collectivists are no longer much interested in taking things away from the wealthy and creative. Even the most left-wing politicians worship wealth creationas the political-action-committee collection plate is passed. Partners at Goldman Sachs go forth with their billions. Steve Jobs walks on water. Jay-Z and Beyoncé are rich enough to buy God. Progressive Robin Hoods have turned their attention to robbing ordinary individuals. Its the plain folks, not a Taggart/Rearden elite, whose prospects and opportunities are stolen by corrupt school systems, health-care rationing, public employee union extortions, carbon-emissions payola and deficit-debt burden graft. Todays collectivists are going after malefactors of moderate means.”
One thing I enjoy about a lot of Randian purists is that they reject organized religion, but treat any negative remarks toward Rand as the highest form of blasphemy.
I think he makes a very valid point. Atlas Shrugged was an eye-opener for the times. This movie may miss that opportunity and we will be all shrugging that all of what is happening today is just normal.
It will be hard-pressed to top the 1942 Italian release of We The Living, IMO.
>Political collectivists are no longer much interested in taking things away from the wealthy and creative. <
It’s called taxation and regulation dear author.
Especially since trains today are a talisman for collectivists.
I just read ‘The Fountainhead’ a few weeks ago. I came to despise Toohey so much that I laughed when he got his at the end of the book.
Hence, PJ's hesitance to raise any real criticism.
Rand rejected the idea of God as degrading to man. And she thought of agnosticism as cowardice. While I agree with her on many things, this is not one of them. In the end, her subjectivism reduces to an enshrining of self-centered behavior as the highest good. It is not. And it is not the same as enlightened self-interest. It leads to humanity without soul and thus it will be no surprise if the move comes across as flat, worthy of a shrug.
But I'll wait to see it before making up my mind.
At least Willie Green will like it and give it 5 stars for featuring lots of choo-choos.
This review is mixed, but well worth reading.
While the leftists are always and incessently shrieking about "the rich"....the quantitative measure of the word "rich" somehow eludes them. But the "rich" remain the targets of the active left...not the bombasic left.
So...to help our socialist, communist friends on the left, I'll quantitatively define both "wealthy" and "rich" as they apply to the actual ... not rhetoric targets.
Rich - Gross Income of $48,500 to $99,900 annual.
Wealthy - Gross Income of $48,500 to $100,000 annual.
Of course, the "rich" and the "wealthy" can be both decried against verbally, and raped financially. We all want that, right???
But those above these numbers are the "untouchables" and are to be bitterly inveighed against verbally, but left entirely alone otherwise....except, of course, to approach - hat in hand - for contributions.
Having read it, I wonder whether it might not work better as a black satirical comedy. I mean, the villains are almost without exception evil clowns, but they’re still clowns.
Exactly. They can only solve budget problems by raising taxes. THey can’t raise them high enough. That’s their ONLY solution to everything. They can’t stand it that some people wind up with more than others. They like it when they are liberal and have a lot, because they give money to their political causes though. Never badmouth rich liberals. Usually like themselves.
I presume they were given money for showing up. I can stay home and watch "The Quiet Man" again for free.
PJ O’Rourke has made a trademark of damning with faint praise. If this review was a simple paean, he wouldn’t get nearly as much chance to show us how witty he is.
pj sure can turn a phrase.
The left proclaims to be champions of the middle class while they pull up the ladder of opportunity behind them.
The glittering shiny new toys have stolen his imagination.
The absolutely worse part of the book besides Ayn’s turgid at best writing style is that she refused to use an editor. That’s how we end up with a 100 page screed by Galt. That book could have been shortened by over 200 pages without missing anything.
The Fountainhead is better although Roark gets an over 10 page screed plus the writing has improved but I’ll never accept Roark raping Dominique because Roark knew they both wanted it.
If you want to read one of her books that isn’t pages of screeds and black and white characters, try, “We the Living”. It shows post revolutionary Russia for what it really was and although the story is bleak, it is well written.
I probably shouldn’t admit this, but I haven’t read Rand. I have known some cultists, er, admirers, but wouldn’t dare criticize the book if I felt inclined to do so.
And why criticize something so many people love. It would be mean and serve no purpose. But I probably won’t see the movie and husband won’t see it if they don’t have cell phones.
Totally agree. We The Living is her best work.
I’m not a Randist-Objectivist or someone who has even read Atlas Shrugged. I do have the book though, and plan to wade through it some time. I did read The Fountainhead, and thoroughly enjoyed it. Ditto for the movie. O’Rourke makes a huge error (i.e. the crack about Adam Smith not writing a book that could be made into a move) in forgetting that many people do not read books. They do go to movies...if they’re interesting enough. If the movie is good enough, the message will get through. And a further tuttutting to P.J., the Marxists are still after the rich. To be sure, they’ll take money from anyone, but they would still like to stick it to the wealthy.
The blurb on the back cover of my copy says "A book you will want to read over and over." Uh, no it's not.
I have read it and found it to be a significant piece of literature, profound even, but like any human endeavor, not without it's flaws.
"And why criticize something so many people love. It would be mean and serve no purpose."
Others might say the same thing about the works of Karl Marx or Anton Lavey, and I would disagree with them as well. I'm certainly not comparing Rand to either of them, but when somebody weighs into the arena of ideas, and tenders to the world a philosophical proposition, criticism is healthy. Rand arrives at many positive conclusions, but also has, IMHO, a number of flawed premises, particularly in the area of God and religion. I'm probably going to see the movie, but like her literature (and pretty much anything else I encounter in life) I'm going to form my opinions and judgments on it, and discuss and debate them as I see them.
Having not seen the movie, I can't comment on O'Rourke's remarks, but I have to say I largely agree on his assessment of Rand, and especially many of her followers.
>They can only solve budget problems by raising taxes.<
It’s long past the point of fixing budgets. IMO, they’re trying to just suck up all the wealth and grab everything for the increasingly oppressive state. It really makes me mad.
(I don’t really have anything for them to take, but I don’t begrudge those who do)
I’ve read it three times...
It’s all about wealth redistribution to the people they want to get other folks’ money.
That’s why you can’t ever cut entitlements without it beign the end of the world. that’s why you can’t cut foreign aid. It’s all flowing to the people they want it to flow to.
It probably is time for CWII. Before the whole shebang is beyond salvage.
We might get CWII whether we want it or not. I’ve felt like the powers that be are trying to provoke just such an event for their own nefarious ends. Probably to get even more of our stuff in the process. It makes me sick.
Riiiggghht. Plastic rails.
We will see a lot of this - the moochers will be in full battle mode for two reasons: though they cannot understand what Rand is saying - in quite plain English - they know they're on the losing side and it frightens them, rather like little kids who fear the boogie man in the closet.
They are also afraid of mirrors - and Atlas Shrugged is a giant mirror. The moochers really don't want to look themselves in the face.
Not with the naysayers that will scream to the rooftops against this finally having made it to the screen.
One does not have 'decent discussions' with people who have little to no decency.
Their loud condemnations will be great publicity. More people will become aware of it and see it.
One also doesn't waste time and breath in answering them for it would be wasted energy and allow them-to think they mattered.
Remember what Howard Rourke (Fountainhead) said to - oh, what was his name, the little weasel who had done everything he could to destroy Rourke? He came upon Rourke on the bridge and said, gloating over his actions: "We're alone here. You can tell me what your think of me."
Rourke said, simply: "But I don't think of you."
Totally deflated the idiot. That is Rand's message as to handling the cretins.
Let them stew...
They have charted more than one way to their goals. If nobody stops them politically, they get what they want because they will destroy the country. If it turns into CWII, they get what they want because it destroys the country.
A movie review by PJ is somewhat like a book review by Charlie Sheen.
The nearest theater showing Atlas Shrugged on Friday is...
"Yes, at first I was happy to be learning how to read. It seemed exciting and magical, but then I read this: Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand. I read every last word of this garbage, and because of this piece of s**t, I am never reading again." - Officer Barbrady (South Park)
I love that part, especially when he holds up the book. Too funny.
lol..From what I hear it might be worth the trip.
My mom gave me that one when I was in architecture school because she thought it was about an architect. I've loved Rand's work ever since.
Take a look at Anthem sometime. By far the shortest of the four Rand novels, but the best of the four IMHO. I think of it as having been set in the years after Atlas if the strikers had never come back.
I read ‘Anthem’ fairly recently (last 6 months or so, I think). I loved it. I need to buy a copy of that for my husband, who loved ‘Atlas Shrugged’ and now has my copy of ‘The Fountainhead.’ I read ‘The Fountainhead’ in a week, but I was always an overachiever as a child ;)
I liked the official trailer,,I hope it sells out. Those being negative are worried the movie might stir even further interest in the book.
I used to read Anthem when I needed inspiration in architecture school. It only takes an hour or so to get through.
The copy I have has the “as published” version as well as Ayn's final mark-up. I haven't looked at the marked up version in a while, but I remember it being interesting.
You’re missing more qualifiers for the ‘rich” liberal and conservative