Nearly two decades in the making, the film adaptation of Ayn Rand's best-selling 1957 novel Atlas Shrugged, a favorite among Tea Partiers and libertarians, is finally coming to the big screen. Producer John Aglialoro, a board member of the Atlas Society think tank, which promotes Rand's ideas, bought the rights to adapt the book 18 years ago. After funding issues, studio delays, and eight screenwriters, Atlas Shrugged Part I — the first of a planned trilogy — will hit theaters on tax day, April 15. (See a scene from the film, currently in previews, below.) Will Rand's tale about about heroic industrialists in a leeching, ungrateful society work in movie form?
This film was worth the wait: Atlas Shrugged Part I is spot-on in its portrayal of Washington bureaucracy and the media's anti-business bias, says Ira Stoll at Future of Capitalism. The usual critiques of the novel — "the characters are wooden, it's black and white without shades of gray — apply to the film, too, but "so what?" Given the 2008 financial crisis and the subsequent push for increased government regulation, "the story is more relevant than ever."
"Atlas Shrugged Movie"
It's an amateurish mess: The movie comes 40 years too late, says Timothy Farner at The Film Stage, and the filmmakers "fell short on numerous levels." The "rough, bleak dialogue" devolves into "incomprehensible gibberish," and the production design is weak. Based on the opening scene featuring a train roaring through the Colorado night, "I thought I was in for a wild ride." But the rest of the movie "was neither compelling nor entertaining."
"[Review] Atlas Shrugged: Part I"
Either way, the reviews won't matter: The film adaptation "is not as bad as libertarians had feared it would be," says Dave Weigel at Slate. But since "Rand's gospel of selfishness" has such a devoted following, the quality of the film hardly matters. Her book isn't exactly an easy read — people "remember what age they were when they started the book; they don't always remember if they finished it" — but more than 7 million copies of Atlas Shrugged have been sold in the U.S, with more than 500,000 copies sold in 2009, the first year of the Tea Party movement. The movie will be a hit.