Thursday, January 5, 2017

I was wrong about the ATLAS SHRUGGED movies

On July 17, 2014 I posted the following blog ( concerning the third Atlas Shrugged alleged motion picture. The title was “The Final Desecration of “Atlas Shrugged.”

I am aware that among the hundreds of people who receive this blog not everyone is devoted to Ayn Rand’s ideas, or believes that her magnum opus Atlas Shrugged is a masterwork. Thus, what follows will probably be of no interest to them. 

However, for those who revere Rand’s 1957 novel as a superb example of romantic realism—let alone brilliantly predictive—the recently announced third motion picture installment of Atlas Shrugged must be considered the final desecration.

Of the many points I could make, here are only two of the major ones.

The feature film rights to Atlas Shrugged should never been sold (let alone several times over) because the scope, characters, plot, and ideas of Atlas are inherently impossible to dramatize in two hours. 

I say this because of two personal experiences. 

One is because in 1968 Erika Holzer and I found the missing Italian film of We the Living, a much shorter and easier story to tell than Atlas. In its original form, WTL was three-plus hours long. Only due to Rand’s personally suggested edits, a bit of her restructuring, and some 4,000 subtitles written by Erika Holzer and Duncan Scott, did the film become the international motion picture success it deserved to be. 

The second is because toward the end of Rand’s life she worked with a TV producer and writer to create a network miniseries which would have been at least seven hours long. The writer was Oscar-winner Stirling Silliphant, whose writing achievements included the TV series Route 66 and the feature film In the Heat of the Night. At dinner one night in Los Angeles Stirling told the Holzers that there was no way Atlas Shrugged could, with any fealty to the novel, be done as a typical two-hour feature film.

As further proof that it was folly to try, I submit that the eventual producers themselves realized that a standard feature was impossible. So they made three, somewhat connected, but still standard feature films.

I repeat, the feature film rights should never have been sold, and when it was clear the current producers intended to dissect Atlas into three standard feature films, they should have been stopped.

Instead, the producers’ “solution” to the unsolvable length and complexity problems—driven also by the need to begin principal photography before their rights-option expired—was to quickly make one-third of Rand’s magnum opus, with the other two-thirds to come along in two later installments.

As to Atlas I and II (and doubtless the forthcoming Atlas Shrugged III), not a single nationally or internationally household name was associated with the project. This failure was most egregious regarding the script. While it would have been too much to expect that the producers would hire a journeyman writer like William Goldman (All the President’s Men, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid), there were some well-credentialed Hollywood writers who understood Rand’s novel and could have created a faithfully powerful script. I know one of them.

Worse than all this, by far, is that the well-intentioned producers apparently believed that even though they were making an “entertainment” not a documentary, it was incumbent on them to provide “philosophical oversight.” So they hired the equivalent of a philosophical commissar, to keep the production on the Objectivist straight-and-narrow.
(There’s more. For example: difficulties with distribution, changing actors from one of the parts to the others, miscasting, the impossibility of showing Atlas Shrugged I, II, and III together in a movie theater or even on television.)

The noise you hear is Ayn Rand spinning in her grave. The feature film rights should never have been sold.

In the days of the Italian version of We the Living (1940-1941) it was possible for the film’s negatives and prints to vanish, as nearly happened because of Nazi hostility to Rand’s story about the impact of the Bolshevik Revolution on a fiercely independent woman and the two men who loved her.

Unfortunately, in today’s world of the Internet, cloud storage, digital recorders, and DVDs, there is no way Atlas Shrugged I, II, and III, unlike We the Living, will ever be lost.


I was wrong.

Apparently those of us who admire Rand’s work have not yet seen the end of desecration of the much-admired author and her writing.

Today, I (and doubtless many others) received a pitch for money in an email offering an Atlas Shrugged comic book and an Ayn Rand cozy fleece winter blanket. See below.

For these moral obscenities, and perhaps even violations of law, we have to thank The Atlas Society’s new CEO’s “outreach” to the younger [and cold] generation.

Jennifer, this desecration is shameful squared. You are cheapening Ayn Rand’s name and insulting her work.

TAS founder, board member, and “Chief Intellectual Officer” David Kelley should be doubly ashamed.

And the other four board members, well, they should resign.

If this happened years ago when I was Ayn Rand’s lawyer, on her behalf I would have sued all of them.

For free!

From: The Atlas Society []
Sent: Thursday, January 5, 2017 2:01 AM
Subject: 2017: Rand Will Roar!

Atlas Society Weekly Newsletter
Atlas Society Weekly Newsletter

Scene from Atlas Shrugged

Graphic novels are all the why not one of Atlas Shrugged?  That was the dream of artist Agniezka Pilat when she created these panels from Ayn Rand's magnus opus many years ago.  We've set a few to music...and narration!  You can watch the magic by clicking below.

CEO Jennifer Grossman 

on WSJ Op-ed

In this interview with Mark Michael Lewis, Grossman responds to attacks by Yaron Brook & Onkar Ghate on her Wall Street Journal op-ed, "Can You Love God & Ayn Rand."  What she says may surprise you.  "To lead with vinegar is to be irrational." Agree?

One Cheer for Legalization,

Three Boos for Pot

This week, as recreational use of marijuana became legal in four states -- to cheering from many libertarians -- we remember the words of Ayn Rand: "I would fight for your legal right to use marijuana; I would fight you to the death that you morally should not do it, because it destroys the mind."  Writing for TAS, libertarian Jeffrey Tucker echoes her view in his piece, "Pot is Gross."

Why Do New Year's Resolutions Often Fail?

The philosophical roots of failed resolutions.  Bradley Doucet's classic piece on why evasion of reality, a disorganized hierarchy of values and placing "duty" before "desires," leads to disappointments.  David Kelley also weighs in.

"Speaking the language of values instead of the language of duty, ‘want-to’ instead of ‘have-to,’ is a daily reminder that we live by choice, with both the freedom and the responsibility that that entails." 

David Kelley, Founder

Nicole Sanders

The Atlas Society would like to welcome Nicole as our Director of Student Programs!  
She started her career in the Liberty movement after she read Atlas Shrugged. She then enrolled at Blinn College in Brenham, Texas and started a Young Americans for Liberty(YAL) chapter in February of 2015. 
Nicole soon became disenfranchised when she learned of unconstitutional speech codes and a free speech area at her college. With the help of The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), she placed a first amendment lawsuit against Blinn College and won the lawsuit in March on 2016.  READ MORE


Ayn Rand Fleece Blanket 

Baby it's cold out there! So why not cuddle up in your very own Ayn Rand fleece blanket this winter?