Atlas Shrugged Part II: Election Edition

Ayn Rand's timeless classic is filmed as a Tea Party fable.

(Page 2 of 2)

There’s a later moment that’s not fun at all, where Rand’s message about the dire effects that arise from seemingly innocent or merely “philosophical” beliefs, which is bizarrely powerful in the novel, is blunted in the movie, even though the scene is the movie's dramatic climax. The film simply cannot manage to show you in one scene the damaging philosophies of all the passengers on a doomed train; an arrogant and supercilious politician bears all the weight. The train wreck then feels like just a train wreck, not the inevitable culmination of centuries of bad philosophy.

The movie has one quiet touch that tries to reach across the class divide between superman industrialists and doomed proletarians and their slimy, mealy-mouthed liberal supposed protectors. The person carving a plaintive gravestone for America upon the passage of a law giving the government total control over the economy is a Manson-looka-like bum, one we are meant to understand was likely a good-thinking working man before the economy was strangled. Rand walked a complicated line in Atlas about who we were supposed to hate: the restrictions on the Reardens and Taggarts did not harm only them, but harmed everyone who depends on the wealth thrown off and distributed by free-market capitalism. In the film, this idea is touched upon by about-to-defect coal magnate Ken Danagger to Dagny. But Rand also believed that those with wrong ideas (government should strive for equality, for example) deserved whatever came to them because of it.

The film adds a bit to the end of the novel’s Part Two that, for those who have been paying attention and figured out the central plot gimmick, almost works as a “happy ending” of sorts that doesn’t necessarily leave the viewer hungry in a cliffhanger sense for the next installment.

This film is a labor of love for its makers—not many films that lose money as Part I did get sequels at all—and probably for its core audience as well. Rand lovers will likely want to see the movie, and want to like it, and it offers them a fair amount to like. Atlas Shrugged Part II is professional and it does what it sets out to do, within the limits of its form. But it will likely not change any minds or lives the way Rand’s source material can and does.

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  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    Sounds like there's not much appeal for this film outside of a very niche audience of hardcore objectivists.

    Not all that surprising, really.

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    Whatever - still haven't been able to make it through the book. Not gonna see the movie. Thanks, Cliff's Notes™!

  • sarcasmic||

    I'd pick it up and thumb forward to the next good stopping point, and then put it down. But a year later I finally managed to finish it!

  • Almanian's Evil Twin||

    Perhaps I need to try your method. Thanks for the suggestion!

  • sarcasmic||

    Keep a bottle of ibuprofen handy. And a bottle of scotch.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Both sides of the political spectrum has reduced Rand's message to a charicture. One thing in particular both sides often over look is that Rand was largely anti-corporatist, seeing them largely as political creatures that use government granted advantages to siphon profits from actual productive workers to hordes of shareholders that contribute nothing of value to the work of the business but stake a claim to a portion of the proceeds.

  • Cytotoxic||

    Ayn Rand had nothing against corporations in and of themselves.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    She had something again public corporations. She felt businesses (even if legally organized as a corporation) should be single proprietorships or small partnerships and that capital should be raised through debt issue (bonds) rather than equity issue (stock). Bond reflect the proper relationship between the business and the investor: they are intitled to a finite return on their investment in exchange for the risk they assumed, not an open-ended claim on the companies future earnings or a say in the operation of the company.

  • Randian||

    She had something again public corporations

    citation needed.

    She felt businesses (even if legally organized as a corporation) should be single proprietorships or small partnerships and that capital should be raised through debt issue (bonds) rather than equity issue (stock).

    Citation needed.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    The capital that shareholders provide to corporations is valueless? That's an interesting theory you have there...

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Most shareholders don't provide any captial to corporations. If you buy a bunch of Apple shares on the stock market, not a dime of that actually goes to the Apple corporation, yet you're given rights to control the corporation and a claim on a portion of its profits.

    Now Rand doubtly would have found that perfectly legal since it was a voluntary arrangement, but there was something unnoble about it.

  • Randian||

    If you buy a bunch of Apple shares on the stock market, not a dime of that actually goes to the Apple corporation

    Then where does it go?

  • Stormy Dragon||

    To the person you bought the shares from and the brokers who facilitated the exchange. The only time a company gets money from the sell of stock is during the initial offering.

  • Randian||

    *headdesk*

  • ||

    Why are you guys conversing with an obvious troll/sockpuppet?

  • DEA||

    Why are reason commenters so quick to cry foul?

    Seriously you guys. You make libertarians look like a bunch of closed-minded shitheads. I see what Stormy is saying, and what you are saying, no one is trolling here.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    For crying out loud...

    The voluntary transfer of property has the same implications vis a vis ownership for public corporations as it does for proprietorships and small partnerships.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    No, single proprietorships do not have their ownership diluted among thousands of people who just want to make money without being involved in the actual business of the business.

    Rearden wanted to make revolutionary new metals. Dagny wanted to build a successful railroad line from the ground up. Both of them were in the business as a creative act, and wealth flowed from that act of creation. James Taggart just wanted to make money without having to actually be productive.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    Nothing you're saying makes sense. Have a nice day.

  • DonH||

    SD -
    What about Midas Mulligan?

  • ||

    Romney didn’t use the Randian terms “looters and moochers”
    I believe the official term is "second handers".

  • Randian||

    seeing them largely as political creatures that use government granted advantages to siphon profits from actual productive workers to hordes of shareholders that contribute nothing of value to the work of the business but stake a claim to a portion of the proceeds.

    What the fuck?

    If by "Rand" you meant "Marx", then yes.

    I mean, do you have one cite to back up what you just said?

  • Stormy Dragon||

    Yes, look at the treatment of Taggart Transcontinental in Atlas Shrugged, which is treated largely as the "evil business" counterpart to Rearden steel, because Rearden is run by the guy involved with the actual running of the company, whereas Taggart is run by a bunch of guys who only care about getting money out of it without having to actually do anything.

  • Randian||

    Does anybody else think this is evidence in favor of Stormy's position that Rand thought "shareholders siphon profits from productive workers"?

    Anybody other than Stormy?

    I thought not.

  • BarryD||

    He didn't write that, Randian.

    "use government granted advantages to siphon profits from actual productive workers to hordes of shareholders that contribute nothing of value to the work of the business but stake a claim to a portion of the proceeds"

    has an entirely different meaning.

    Now Rand, in Atlas, didn't seem to differentiate, IIRC, between shareholders and simple large proprietors who did the same thing. Nor did she condemn corporations as an organizational form.

    It's not to be forgotten, though, that in Atlas, the protagonists are the few who stand apart, in a world comprised mostly of government-equalized, self-serving "crony capitalists".

  • Randian||

    Now Rand, in Atlas, didn't seem to differentiate, IIRC, between shareholders and simple large proprietors who did the same thing. Nor did she condemn corporations as an organizational form

    Yes, exactly, which means that Stormy is "making shit up".

  • Fiscal Meth||

    If rand viewed capital investment, buying shares of a corporation for example, as siphoning money away from the real workers then why was mulligan a hero? Randian is right. That's more of a Marxist view.

  • Stormy Dragon||

    IIRC, Midas Mulligan invested via loaning money to companies (i.e. debt investing) rather than buying shares in them (capital investing). There was also quite a lot of emphasis on how the heroes insisted on raising money via bonds so as not to dilute the ownership of their companies. If Rand didn't differentiate between the two, why so much time spent extolling the virtues of bonds?

  • BarryD||

    Right. It's important to remember that Dagny was fighting against her own company, as much as anything.

  • Randian||

    And that is evidence that Rand viewed shareholders as siphoners how again...?

  • BarryD||

    See above.

  • The Immaculate Trouser||

    Not that I have an extraordinarily high opinion of Rand as either an author or a thinker, but as Randian notes, that is not evidence for a dislike of shareholders in general anymore than a Dickensian villain is evidence of Dickens' anti-British bias.

  • A Secret Band of Robbers||

    Rand saw the single proprietor, built-from-my-own-two-hands corporation as being the capitalist ideal, but I don't think you can say that she necessarily thought a public corporation was deficient. For example, Taggart Transcontinental stayed true to Nat Taggart's vision for several generations.

  • Wrightko||

    This article http://www.alaskadispatch.com/.....d?page=0,0 makes reference to the fact that Ayn Rand never used the stock market herself. I also remember reading in "Letters of Ayn Rand" that she actually asked an economist once what the purpose of the stock market was.

    I say this to argue that she probably viewed the anonymous public shareholder in a negative light. Also, Corporations are a government designated entity specifically created to limit liability of consequences with regards to ones actions. Thats not exactly in line with, "You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality."

  • ||

    The film features Fox News’ Sean Hannity

    Oh Gebus. Hannity? SRSLY? Why not just hang a black cape an pin a gold dollar sign on Bozo the clown?

  • Teve Torbes||

    He's the worst possible choice for a cameo by a "journalist".

  • CE||

    He plugged the film on his show last night, and showed the clip. He was playing himself, arguing against the Fair Share law and defending Hank Reardon's right to get rich off his own metal.

    Maybe some neocons will watch it and become capitalists by accident.

  • Brian Doherty||

    "Second handers" is the philosophical term for those who take their ideas and judgments from other people, not reality. Looters and moochers are more precisely the people who steal things.

  • Brian Doherty||

    The former is an epistemological crime; the latter a material one.

  • ||

    I stand corrected

  • some guy666||

    So you wont let critics see it? Apparently it is a more expensive turd than the first film. Just watch 'the passion of rand' people thats all you will really need. Rand was highly overrated.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    Are you talking about that movie with Eric stoltz? Are you being serious?

  • Graphite||

    Maybe he has a thing for movies scored with constant, languid sax solos.

  • Fiscal Meth||

    I see. Then in at least one sense he's right. Moody sax riffs really are all you need people.

  • some guy666||

    Yep the Stoltz film. Yes I am serious. The film shows the true reality of Ayn Rand: A fucked up, angry reactionary woman, who hung around a bunch of young 20 year old sycophants. And dont forget her having sex with the one who "loved her the most". To put this woman on a pedestal along with her silly philosophy is a joke. Cant be mad at her though, she made a shit load of money, and help spawn the "intellectual" circle jerk, libertarian movement.

  • CE||

    Yet she wrote the most successful novel of the twentieth century.

  • YinxDoo||

    Wow thats crazy man, why didnt I ever think opf that?
    www.PrivacyGet.tk

  • lucius.junius.brutus||

    I understand you have change some things when adapting a book to film, but why make Dagny a blonde?! There's no goddamn reason for that.

  • lucius.junius.brutus||

    That's too bad they chose to strip down the Taggart Tunnel incident. Imagining all of the collectivists dying is one of the most satisfying parts of the book and I sure wanted to see it int he movie.

  • CE||

    Don't worry, they'll make up for it in the John Galt torture scene in part 3.

  • ||

    I saw Atlas Shrugged Part I and it was a sure cure for imsomnia. One can only hope that Part II is an improvement. People who are overly engaged to one or another ideology (such as the reviewer, the makers of this film, and the hard core of Ayn Rand devotees who are the film's likely audience) should face at some point a classic truth - drama succeeds or fails not based on its underlying ideology, but on having a compelling narrative and characters capable of engaging and holding our interest. Every artist from Sophocles to Shakespeare to Steven Spielberg has understood that. Atlas Shrugged Part I failed not because of liberal critics' bias but because it was simply a bad movie. As to the idea that having Part II come out in time for the 2012 election, with the hope that it might influence the outcome, that is highly unlikely. The few dozen folks who actually see the movie may push their levers with all the more intensity for Gary Johnson (or possibly Ryan-Romney) but it will have a negligible impact.

  • some guy666||

    I agree phil. Why do they even bother?

  • Danno||

    I was very disappointed in Part 2. Why? Where did the atmospheric cinematography of Part 1 go? With that missing it was hard to connect with the characters in a cohesive manner (though I very liked Samantha Mathias’s take of Dagny) . Ironically, Part 2 went Hollywood (e.g. dull, inartistic movies). Since Part 1 did so bad in the theater due to critic review assassination, it was going to make a-go of Part 2 hard either way. I loved Part 1 where audience members clapped after the final scene. There was no clapping at final scene of Part 2. Did committee-think strike Part 2?

  • some guy666||

    Newsflash: This film was a financial turd like the first one....I guess three is the waste your money charm.

  • attractions guide||

    I like Atlas Shrugged Part II, this is better than the first.

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