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Reason.tv: Adapting the Epic—The Making of the Atlas Shrugged Movie

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"The whole theme of the movie is, really, human evil," says Brian O'Toole, the screenwriter behind Atlas Shrugged Part I, the feature adaptation of Ayn Rand's influential novel. "And human evil springs from good intentions." 

O'Toole and producer Harmon Kaslow tell Reason.tv what viewers can expect to see in the movie, which covers the first of three sections in Rand's novel. 

"This movie really comes across as a very empowering movie for women," says Kaslow. "It's about a woman who takes on a lot of forces working against her."

The movie is set in a dystopian near-future, and the story follows Dagny Taggart, a railroad executive who faces a crisis when one of her trains is derailed. While Dagny tries to improve the railway by collaborating with Hank Rearden, an entrepreneur who's developed a new kind of metal, her brother James Taggart conspires with government officials and crony capitalists who are bent on taking Rearden down.

"To me, this was the underdog story," says O'Toole. 

Atlas Shrugged Part 1 hits theaters April 15.

Produced by Hawk Jensen and Ted Balaker. Camera by Zach Weissmueller and Jensen, who also edited.

Approximately 3.5 minutes.

To see our exclusive behind the scenes sneak peak of atlas shrugged go here.

To see all our Ayn Rand videos go here.

To see the original Atlas Shrugged trailer go here.

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  1. The trailer looks shitty.

    1. The movie kinda seems like it might suck too. I can’t tell yet.

  2. Was this high Speed rail? Because Obama would give her a fat subsidy.

    1. It’s a movie about our sputnik moment that will help us win the future.

  3. Resolved: Ayn Rand set back the cause of liberty half a century at least.

    1. Many of the commenters here want it set back to 1785.

      1. not us

        1. Commerce and General Welfare and “good and plenty” Clauses:
          Neither do we!!

      2. I’m anti-slavery. Well, unless I become Dictator-for-Life Libertate. Then you’ll all be my slaves, technically, I suppose.

        1. What about voluntary slavery, in exchange for being taken care of?

          1. You mean under my benevolent, yet total rule, or do you mean just generally?

            1. Pro Liberviathan.

              1. Yes, with compulsory freedom for all.

            2. Just in general. Should a person be able to voluntarily give up their rights?

              For example, someone who cannot, or does not, want to go through the struggle and uncertainty of life (such as someone who has been in prison for 40 yrs and is then let loose with no idea how to survive). If he volunteers to be a slave, in exchange for contractually guaranteed food & shelter, what’s wrong with that (provided it’s not generational; all children are always born free).

              1. Jim,

                Can he break the contract, even if there are financial repercussions? If so, not a slave.

                1. I would say yes, he can break the contract. I was thinking “slave” in the sense that, while under contract, he does not enjoy the same rights as freemen (cannot travel unless master permits it, etc), and is not entitled to a wage.

              2. Well, I suppose the pithy answer is that some rights are inalienable.

                1. Heh, Indentured Libertude.

                  1. Eggs-actly.

              3. I’d say the basic problem is that, as a slave, you can’t sue for breech of contract, so how can you enforce any contract exchanging anything for being a slave? If you put limits on slavery to allow suing, to prevent being moved away, and so on, then it’s no longer slavery.

    2. Nope. Progressives would have just found someone else to scapegoat. Without Ayn, Heinleiners or Friedmaniods would be the insult de jure.

      Objectionable Objectivists don’t help the case of liberty, but they’d be with us anyway, just labeled differently.

  4. When does “Dianetics: The Movie” come out?

    1. We all know what STEVE SMITH’s favorite scene from a Rand novel is…

      1. Consensual rape. Another Rand innovation!

        1. And Whoopi is now championing that distinction.

          1. She is? In what context?

            1. rape as opposed to rape rape

              1. Rape vs. rape-rape? What’s the difference?

                1. The raping.

                  1. Is this about that poor reporter?

            2. Pro, it’s from when she defended Roman Polanski for not committing “rape-rape”.

              1. Ah. That’s horrifically evil of her to do.

    2. Ever heard of “Battlefield Earth”?

    3. Oh, I get it! Ayn Rand was a cult leader, just like L. Ron Hubbard! Did you think that up all by yourself? Tell the truth, now… no fibbing.

  5. Ha ha. Look at the grown-ass adults talking about “human evil” — as if there was any other kind.

    Ha ha. Notice the irony of this piece of shit pulp novel / movie’s plot at a time when the whole country struggles to build the decades-old technology of high-speed rail — such struggle made harder by the objections of retrograde half-wits in the dumber states.

    Ha ha.

    1. Did you just insult Florida? My seconds will call on your seconds.

    2. Your troll comment in the sea steading thread kicks the shit out of this one, don’t get complacent.

    3. I heard the cries of our whole country crying out for high speed rail, which was only stopped by the lack of demand to pay for it.

      1. Ha ha. Look at the free-market dumbass who thinks demand, not need and planning, drives the creation and national expansion of any networked infrastructure.

        And where did he type this dumbassery? On the internet, of course, a thing nobody had any demand for back when his tax money paid for its creation. Ha ha.

        1. Ha ha. Look at the dumbass who thinks laughter and derision is the best argument.

          And where did he learn this? Ha ha. The internet and discourse.

          Central planning is always the best. Ha ha. Perfect examples are Long Island tract housing and Shea Stadium, overseen by the NY central planners in the 50’s. Ha ha. Unlike organic and creative cities that arise out of dynamism and flexibility, planned spaces can’t account for the millions of preferences and tastes that individuals that make up communities desire. Ha ha. Like when leftist anarcho-bohemians basically squatted the Village in NY and made it vibrant. Ha ha. Or the creation of San Francisco by capitalist frontiersmen. Ha ha. But go ahead you little fuck, laugh yourself to death with your self-assuredness. Certainly the charm and ripping efficiency of the interstate highway system is a glowing testament to the mundane structures and political kickbacks that central planning entails.

          Oh, and don’t worry about the property rights of people you’ll need to seize it from to build the choo-choos, you can just tell them…

          Ha ha.

          1. Tee hee. Look who can’t tell the difference between cities and the whole country, between national infrastructure and a neighborhood, between the real world and some glibertarian nonsense argument.

            Should we blame “the internet and discourse” for your reading comprehension problems?

            Ha ha.

            1. This is a red herring, but since you’re making it about language and reading comprehension, cities are “any networked infrastructure[],” which is what you said.

              Jackass. Be more careful with your wording. You walked about creating and nationally expanding “any networked infrastructure.” Shall we nationally expand New York?

              1. No, sorry. Words mean things. Examples of national infrastructures exclude localities and include such things as the phone system, the power grid, the internet, the highway system, the weather satellites, rail system and many other nationwide systems that the free market did not and could not create alone in a million years. You’re welcome for the lesson.

                1. Thank you, Alex Kozinski. We will tell Justice Traynor about the meaning of words. Gladly. Your sloppy sentence, where the “and” makes “creation and national expansion” severable words w/r/t “any networked infrastructure” should have read “creation and [whatever] of national networked infrastructure.” If you’re going to nitpick, the ordering of the word “national” was indeed important. You nitpick me, I nitpick back. You fucked up. You essentially said that need “drives the creation…of any network infrastructure[].” Which would include cities. Go back and read your sentence.

                  But you just wanted a red herring to get around an apt analogy regarding Robert Moses and transportation planning in NYC, not to mention the interstate highway system (a comment you ignored), not to mention the more than apt analogy of city planning to national planning in terms of how it turns out when you’re ascertaining abstract notions about what drives the creation of “networked infrastructures.” You just wanted to be disingenuous and glib, the same thing you accused libertarian philosophy of being.

                  By the way, you want to nitpick? You never specified whether these networks were physical infrastructure networks or social capital ones through the use of the work “any.”

                  There’s no lesson you’re giving me, just hubris. Thanks.

                  1. *The word “any.”

                    1. By the way, I love how “planning” now “drives” the invention of the telephone network, cable system, power grid, etc. Weren’t these all created by individuals with an eye towards demand? Was this need? Planning? Have you been listening to talking points?

                      Like these weren’t invented and then — again, and then — granted government monopolies because of potential demand that wasn’t foreseen? Did anyone foresee a “need” for telephone? Was its network planned? Was its invention planned? Not at its inception. AT & T had its first network line in the 1870s and wasn’t given its monopoly until 1913.

                      Not only that, you just conflated physical infrastructure (travel) with communications and electricity. Nice work. No distinguishing?

                      And I still hold that travel would have been just fine.

    4. I’ll just keep changing my name again and again. I’ll trick you into reading me, you despicable libertardians!

      Where’s MNG to tongue my asshole?

    5. I’ve got something you can ORAL!

  6. I’d be first in line to see this movie, if they made a few minor adjustments, such as replacing the actors, characters, plot, and script with those from “Big Trouble in Little China”, and added in Kevin Bacon.

    1. Interesting choice, as Big Trouble in Little China was originally a sequel to The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension.

      1. Did not know that. I just love the movie and watch it once a month (while getting high; don’t tell Bloomberg!)

        1. It’s among my favorites. Lo Pan is one of the greatest bad guys ever.

          1. Indeeed, Mr. Burton.

          2. Oh, and as for Buckaroo Banzai, I’m a huge Peter Weller fan. He’s actually a professor of ancient history or anthropology, and I always wanted to take a class from him. I’d call him “Prof. Robocop” and demand a signature if I made an “A”.

            1. I think he’s at Syracuse. I was just thinking about him today, wondering if he’d appear at the installation of the Robocop statue.

              I think his Master’s is actually in art history or something like that (working on a PhD?), but he’s clearly heavily into classical history on a much broader level. That’s so atypical for an actor to make him even cooler than he already was.

              James Hong, incidentally, was a civil engineer before he went into acting.

              1. One of my gf’s profs was one of the kids from Wierd Science.

                1. Just looked it up: “Ilan Mitchell-Smith (born June 29, 1969) is an Assistant Professor of English at Angelo State University in San Angelo, Texas. . . .”

  7. “sneak peak”

    Quiet orgasm?

  8. I think the trailer looks like a generic boiler plate hollywood trailer.

    I am hopeful that the movie will be somewhat true to the book. Obviously it will be hard to condense on the the 10 longest novels ever written into a 6 hour, 3 part film.

    Obviously they will need to keep Francisco’s money speech and conversation with Rearden at his home. I’m not sure how I feel about them puting it in modern times, but I will go see it with an open mind.

  9. “To me, this was the underdog story,” says O’Toole.

    That’s been done.

  10. The BOOK was NOT about CAPITALISM….Socialism?, Marxism?, Facism?, Communism? maybe but CHANGE like NOW? for sure….I hope they don’t RUIN the MOVIE by trying to make it something the book wasn’t…..

  11. I can’t wait to see Atlas Shrugged and Jsu Garcia’s portrayal of Francisco d’Antonio. I love Ayn Rand – and while I don’t subscribe to all her beliefs I do love the way her writing gives us the opportunity to examine parts of ourselves in their extreme possibilities. Her extreme ideals certainly shine the Light on the intentions we are holding for ourselves and our lives, and for me the invitation to increase my level of self responsibility, accountability and integrity in my life was one I accepted and took great advantage of.

    I also am amazed by the success of his upcoming feature film The Wayshower, codirected / cowritten / coproduced with his spiritual teacher and the Bestselling Author Dr. John-Roger. Jsu Garcia also stars in his film, alongside screen heroes Eric Roberts and Peter Stormare, and screen veterans Sally Kirkland and Leigh Taylor-Young.

    This indie film is obviously a labor of love for Jsu Garcia and it’s inspiring to see movies of such substance being made. The Wayshower definitely shares some similarities with Atlas Shrugged, and perhaps like some of the best films coming out right now (like Inception and Black Swan) the examination of one’s own life, and the quest to come more fully into a life of integrity, of fulfilling one’s purpose are the films we need more of in times like these.

    The Wayshower’s trailer is quite amazing and an experience in and of itself. http://bit.ly/twyoutubetrailer Take the two minutes – you’ll be glad you did.

  12. How can the screenwriter for Atlas Shrugged be so utterly clueless about the theme of the novel? If this isn’t deliberate vandalism then the man is as dumb as a bag of hammers. How will the plot even make sense, on his interpretation? The whole point of the climactic chapters is that Dagny must learn that the bad guys DON’T have “good intentions” – that they don’t want to live – that what they want is destruction for its own sake.

    1. Becasue he NEVER read the book – he hacked his way through and turned out a nearly unreadable/unshootable script the was rewritten daily by the director. These two are frauds – look at their credits – first time producer and hack horror writer – a couple of real certifiables – don’t drink the kool-aide. On the other hand produciton value reads fairly cinematic. He has ZERO idea what Ayn Rand and her magnum opus are about – just listen to him lie – OMG so bad.

  13. The evil spoken of stems from stupidity….not good intentions

  14. It is too bad that the screenwriter has chosen “human evil” as the theme of the movie. The theme of Atlas Shrugged, the book, is “the role of Man’s mind in existence.” Big difference. Get ready for a rough ride.

    1. He didn’t really write it, he’s just acting as if – the driector, who had a genuine grasp of the novel and did read it – re-wrote 90% of this clown’s sorry excuse of a script daily. But, not to worry, look for ‘Human Evil’ to be interjected in Part 2 and 3 – oh brother…so sad.

  15. Ayn Rand’s stupid books stink worse than Nathaniel Branden said her old dried out twat did.

  16. “Ayn Rand’s stupid books stink worse than Nathaniel Branden said her old dried out twat did.”

    Mr. Clark

    That statement is remarkable. To defame someone in such a condensed precise vulgar manner is almost artful. I’m curious, about the kind of satisfaction do you derive from such a statement. And can you give me the name of anyone who creates wealth that you admire? And what would they think of your statment?

  17. I don’t have a good feeling that this producer “gets” Ayn Rand. Atlas Shrugged is not about human evil…and human evil is certainly not understood by Rand as “consequences of people trying to do good.” I was so looking forward to the movie…until I saw this video clip!

  18. Ayn Rand was insane. First she was a denier, “smoking isn’t bad for you, that is just the anti-business socialists getting in the way of freedom”. Sound familiar? Then when she gets lung cancer, her income from being a hack writer was not enough to pay for the health care she needed, so she uses medicare, the program she denounced as evil.

    Such is the way of the libertarians. They want other people to pay for their intransigence.

    “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs. “

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