Is “Atlas Shrugged” a Flop in the Making?

54 years after being published, Atlas Shrugged will finally hit the silver screen. After years of rumors that attached such superstars as Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt to the production, the trailer has finally appeared on the internet. Well, it certainly does not feature Brad Pitt. Even though I consider myself to be a reasonably well-informed cineaste, I only recognized one of the actors and only as “that guy” from the Coen brothers’ work. No, I’m not talking about Steve Buscemi. His name is Jon Polito and if nothing else, his slimy demeanor perfectly fits the role of the malicious bureaucrat. Of course, given the multitude of those characters in the gargantuan novel, who knows which one he will be playing?

The last time that an Ayn Rand novel was adapted to the big screen, it starred Gary Cooper and featured a script written by Rand herself. In most people’s opinion, The Fountainhead was only somewhat successful even though it maintained Rand’s ideals. We shall have to hope that this time around they at the very least live up to that tradition.

The trailer did fill me with a sense of trepidation, however. Rand never was the best at writing naturalistic dialogue – and it appears that the screenwriters have not altered much of her dialogue, for better or for worse. It also appears that the film will also center around the railroad industry, which once was significant in America, but at this point seems to be rather moribund, if not entirely unimportant. Perhaps the most troubling point about the trailer is its label: “Atlas Shrugged: Part 1.” My greatest complaint about the novel is that it is so long. We may be subjected to an epic trilogy on the scale of Peter Jackson’s “The Lord of the Rings,” except with significantly fewer orcs and a whole lot more 60 page monologues on the free market.

J.P. Harrington