Saturday, June 30, 2012

Hagen Shrugged

Grant Bowler admires his achievement as idealistic industrialist Hank Rearden in "Atlas Shrugged"

By Dan Hagen
The “Atlas Shrugged” film from 2011 finally made it to Matt & Dan Theatre.
Not as bad as I was led to expect, just mediocre, which in this case is almost worse. A tight budget deprived the film of the big exterior scenes demanded by Ayn Rand’s sweeping, crazed romanticism. 
Taylor Schilling as transportation magnate Dagny Taggart
And the relationship between Dagny Taggart and Hank Rearden lacked the necessary magnetism. Rand’s Übermensch heroes and heroines are supposed to possess attractive force on the scale of the gravitational pull between planets, and to burn with a passion like the hearts of suns. This, they did not do.
On the plus side, the screenwriters succeeded in making Rand’s didactic dialogue playable, something that failed to happen when Rand herself wrote the screenplay to Warner’s big-budget version of “The Fountainhead” in 1949. And my old friend Jack Milo is effective in his brief scene when he turns and, with a rueful stare, says, “What are you selling, pal?” My, what a question to ask John Galt.
Rand, at her best, speaks to the inchoate thirst for achievement that young people have, and offers them a vision of productive work that is both creative and heroic. At her worst, she is narcissistic, even sociopathic. I’m not sure the movie hits either of these high notes.
But the strangest thing about this film is that it suggests that Rand’s hyper-capitalistic, let-the-corporations-rule-all philosophy is the solution to the current America economic crisis when, in fact, it is in many ways the cause of it.

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