Last night a friend hosted a viewing of the worst film I have ever seen - Part One of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. If Chuck Norris and Steven Seagal had been added to the cast, it would have raised the level of the acting. While I think that last sentence is funny, I’m not joking. This film achieves something that the film of The Fountainhead doesn’t - it actually provides a cinematic experience that’s as bad as Rand’s prose.
When the film was first released, M.V. Moorhead wrote a review which I mostly agree with. I think he’s wrong in saying that Rand was intelligent; I’m at a loss to think of a stupider public figure, and would suggest that she was the Sarah Palin of her time. Also, I think Moorhead is too generous regarding the production quality; I’ve seen better C.G.I. created on a Macbook. But I agree with the rest of his analysis, especially this:
Ayn Rand’s sensibility may have been adolescent, but the sensibility of the Tea-Party types who now fetishize her work, & to whom these filmmakers are presumably playing, is a good deal more infantile. The signature moment of the movie, perhaps, comes when industrialist hero Hank Rearden explains why he won’t share “Rearden Metal” to one of the story’s many trumped-up mealy-mouthed bureaucrat villains: “Because it’s mine. Can you understand that concept? Mine.” Behind the handsome, smooth-voiced actor in the suit, you can see the stamping feet & clenched fists of the two-year-old who can’t understand any concept except “Mine.”
One of the friends I watched it with remarked that no children appear in Rand’s fiction, and no old people. I had never realized this before. Hers is a fantasy world, and could only appeal to privileged adolescents who feel misunderstood, which explains why she is taken seriously only in the U.S. The most troubling aspect of this film - which is a version of Left Behind for atheist neo-Nazis - is that the opinions expressed in the risible dialogue are an accurate rendering of current conservative ideology.