Note: If you haven’t seen the film, take my word for nothing in here. PLEASE see it and draw your own conclusions. It’s still running in 65 theaters around the country.
Continuing my review of Atlas Shrugged: Who Is John Galt, I wish to pause for a disclaimer and a shout-out. First, the disclaimer: I am speaking frankly about this film because I believe in the project. I respect the passion of the creative team behind it. I understand the obstacles they had to overcome to bring an overwhelmingly popular book to film under the eye of a film industry that largely holds its audience in contempt, and believes that this book is only popular because most of the reading public is too stupid to know what’s good for them. I admire their effort, and I hope it will ultimately pay off.
I don’t want to write this review, but, dammit, I feel obligated.
Actually, I feel torn. One the one hand, I supported this movie financially via Kickstarter. I think very well of the producers and creative team who have, thus far, brought us one excellent film and one pretty good one in this trilogy. Criticizing them in public feels a bit like airing dirty laundry, disloyalty to the cause. And yet… When I see something done poorly, by people who want to do a good job, and I know how it could be done better… I feel like I have to say something. Even though saying something seems to put me in the ranks of the many film critics who will say this movie is a desperate, laughable attempt to bring recognition to a set of lunatic fringe ideas, and that the poor quality of the film is just a testament to how unsound their thinking is.
So, in case you didn’t know, I’m a huge admirer of Ayn Rand. (And a few of you who did not know may have just defriended, unfollowed and generally banned my name from being spoken in your presence. I’m prepared to live with that.) Agree or disagree with her views, I don’t think you can claim that anyone in popular discourse (and certainly no other bestselling novelist) has quite so clearly presented the argument against collectivist thought as Ms. Rand. That’s why so many people dislike her work so intensely.
But I grew up being told that joining the herd, or letting others control you, is a bad thing. The herd mentality provided the motive force behind movements like Nazism and Soviet Communism. When I was growing up, everyone around me accepted that those philosophies were wrong. They were the philosophies of people who wanted to harm us. As I grew and developed my own personal moral philosophy, I concluded it was both sensible and moral to resist any attempt by others to make me conform to their ideals of what made a good person, or to make me live to serve their ends. When I discovered Ayn Rand’s powerful arguments, which supported what I believed, I became a fan. I especially loved Atlas Shrugged.