Ayn Rand

Atlas Shrugged: "spectacularly good" or "incomprehensible gibberish"?


Get used to seeing Dagny's knees

Atlas Shrugged Part I is rolling out pre-release screenings around the country, including in Washington, D.C. last night, and the reviews are coming in. A sampling:

Ninth Circuit Judge Alex Kozinski, IMDB:

I was convinced Atlas Shrugged could not be put on film, but this movie proved me wrong. It has a contemporary look and feel, while retaining the Art Deco elegance of Rand's novel. The acting is superb, particularly Taylor Schilling as Dagny Taggart and Grant Bowler as Hank Rearden. Bowler manages to cram more meaning into a half-cocked eyebrow than most actors in a dozen lines of dialogue, and Shilling captures the sleek, cold elegance of Dagny, while giving just a hint of the passion simmering beneath the surface. Indeed, all the performances are impeccable.

This is a beautiful movie to watch, with sets, locations and costumes that are both gorgeous and convincing. The run of the John Galt Line is thrilling, and when it crossed the bridge made of Rearden Metal, I wanted to stand up and cheer. […]

It's too bad that [Rand] didn't live to see this movie because, I believe, she would be surprised and pleased by how well it captures the essence of her work. This is clearly a labor of love that will help make Rand's ideas accessible to many who have not yet read her work. And it's exciting and rewarding for those of us who have been Rand fans for many years.

Timothy Farmer, The Film Stage:

[There] are countless scenes of rough, bleak dialogue that never seem to stay on the track. This soon becomes the tone of the entire film: incomprehensible gibberish. I'm more than willing to give credit to the sound engineers, mixers and operators for their crisp captures. That said, I haven't a clue in hell what was rolling through John Aglialoro's and Brian Patrick O'Toole's craniums when they wrote the screenplay. Somebody please have them admitted for a CAT scan ASAP. […]

This dude was pretty interesting

Remember chemistry class? Did you fail it by chance? Well, if you did do not feel alone, because all of the filmmakers here are in the same camp. There is absolutely no chemistry between the characters, not even a single metabolic drop. […]

Atlas Shrugged: Part 1 attempted to embody the drive of American innovation by using bold characters, yet it fell short on numerous levels. It was neither compelling nor entertaining to watch. I was hyped on the thought that the book was finally being transformed after forty years into a film, yet had my doubts. My doubts won. And if for some idiot reason they end up making the second and third installment, please fasten my head directly to the railroad tracks and redo the entire script. Then, and only then, will this film provide anything remotely related to a worthwhile film.

The D.C. office believes that the sex scenes should have been a LOT steamier

Rand biographer Barbara Branden:

I am delighted, overwhelmed, and stunned. […]

The movie is not so-so, it is not OK,it is not rather good—it is spectacularly good. […]

The script is excellent, as  is the acting. The music is first rate, and immensely adds to the tension that the action and the tempo of the film create.  Visually,  it is very beautiful. And wait until you experience the first run of the John Galt Line! […]

To a remarkable degree, the movie captures the spirit, the sense of life, that was Ayn Rand's alone.

Does it have faults? I suppose so.  I could not care less—and I suspect you won't care either.

This still looks more lurid than the scene

Silas Lesnick, ComingSoon.net

[T]he intent of this review is not to debate the politics or ethics of Objectivism, but to ask whether or not the film has any value outside dogged, self-serving propaganda.

Put simply, it does not.

"Atlas Shrugged" is double-feature material for "Battlefield Earth," offering a slavish interpretation of a story whose primary reason for being retold in the first place is cult devotion. While said devotees may deem the film successful at literally bringing the events of the book to the screen, there's zero sense of character, dialogue or pacing. That is, the requisite traits that even make this technically a story in the first place are close to nil.

John Sexton, Big Hollywood:

They got it right.

Sure I would have loved to see the $40 million dollar version of the same movie, but the bottom line is that it works and works well.

More positive notices from Hans Schantz, Eriks Goodwin, and Judd Weiss.

NEXT: Capitalist Propaganda Posters

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  1. You’re kidding yourself if you think the movie critics are going to put aside their political leanings and judge the movie on pure artistic or entertainment value.

    1. Yeah – to avoid wasting everyone’s time, could we just post reviews by people who dislike Rand’s politics but liked the movie and reviews by people who like Rand’s politics but disliked the movie? If those reviews exist they’ll be the most informative, and if those reviews don’t exist then that will be most informative.

        1. I’d like to see reviews by people who never read the book or ever heard of Ayn Rand. Does it stand up as an entertaining movie on it’s own, or do you have to have an understand of the subject matter prior to watching it?

          I know a lot of people who have never even heard of Ayn Rand and who don’t take much time considering “ideas”. Will this movie hold them long enough to make them think about what’s going on, or will they fall asleep?

          1. How about use your own judgement and let that alone determine if that is good or not.

            1. Right. And I could care less if most people like it or it convinces anyone. If it is reasonably faithful to the spirit of the book and is a decent movie I will be happy.

            2. There’s a difference between being unable to judge for yourself and recognizing that there’s a correlation between movies you like and how they fare critically. It’s rare to find someone whose likes and dislikes have absolutely no relationship with anyone else’s.

      1. Spot on. I have a facebook friend (sue me) who read 15 pages of The Fountainhead and some excerpts from Rand’s essays who believes he’s qualified to call Objectivism “childish.” He’s also a history grad student as a presitgious university, who should know something about, you know, actually reading the source material. If you think any run-of-the-mill Hollywood hack is going to bother reading Atlas Shrugged or provide a faithful review of the movie vis-a-vis the book then you’ve got another thing coming.

      2. [T]he intent of this review is not to debate the politics or ethics of Objectivism, but to ask whether or not the film has any value outside dogged, self-serving propaganda.

        Shorter: “I plan to dislike this movie.”

        I like roy’s suggestion.

      3. Those reviews would certainly prove the most objective.


        I agree from the reading the snippets of the reviews above, we get two perspectives:

        1) People who like Rand’s philosophy and give us an absolutely dripping review of the movie.

        2) People who can’t stand Objectivism, and thusly are typical closed minded modern liberals, and thusly slam the movie.

        Frankly it seems that perhaps both points of view presented are closed minded.

      4. Roger Ebert’s opinion would probably be the best here. He tends to call things like he sees them, and his lefty politics are well known. I doubt he’s seen it yet, though; I think he now mostly screens films at his home due to his poor health.

    2. Agree with roystgnr:
      You’re kidding yourself if you think the Rand followers are going to put aside their devotion and judge the movie on pure artistic or entertainment value.

      1. Bollox.

        Half the time I hear “Objectivists are going to like it no matter what”, and the other half the time I hear “No adaptation is going to be good enough for the Objectivists.”

        It can’t be both ways. Is it inconceivable that actual Objectivists (as opposed to the caricature that many people carry around in their heads) are human beings with some variation in taste and expectations, and therefore that some might find it a good adaptation, and others not? Or even–gasp–that each will like some things about it, but not everything?

        1. Exactly. Im not an objectivist but I enjoyed the novel. So if the movie sucked Im going to say it sucked.

          Same as I did for Dune (the suckiest suck that ever sucked).

          And Lord of the Rings (good in general, 2nd one had some stupid bits, where the fuck was Tom?!?).

          1. I am an Objectivist but I have not read AS yet. If the movie sucks I will say so upon seeing. Roy’s idea is wise.

          2. I think Objectivists will focus on whether the movie is true to the novel. If not, they’ll hate it, regardless of the film’s other merits.

            Agreed mostly on Dune, and I’m in the minority that found the LOTR movies largely disappointing. Especially after the first one.

            1. I thought the 3rd one was fine, I understand why they changed the ending, but removing the scouring of the shire changes the central themes a bit too much.

              Personally, I thought they should have done 6 2-hour movies instead of 3 3-hour movies. Admittedly, doing it that way means the 3rd and 4th movies have entirely different casts, but I dont think that is a problem.

              1. However, having the ring destroyed 1/3 of the way thru the 6th movie might have been a problem. But, that is why the scouring of the shire exists.

              2. I doubt Jackson would have been able to get a 6 film series green lit. It was astounding that he managed to get a commitment for all three to be filmed at once, but they made a great case for the cost savings, IIRC and his own studio was on the hook for post-production cost overruns.

                The extended version is 11 1/2 hours long, by the way.

                1. I actually found that the extended version moved more quickly and “felt” shorter, despite being quite a bit longer. The bits of extra material did fill out the story and characters just enough to make them more accessible, hence drawing the viewer in more and increasing immersion. Counter-intuitive, but that’s how it seemed to me.

            2. I enjoyed the second one for some reason, but the other two, especially the last one, bored me to tears.

              I didn’t like the novels either, but forced my way through them. Something about Tolkein just leaves me cold. Now that Terry Brooks . . .

              But, no, I really don’t enjoy Tolkien’s writing nor much of its adaptation. Heroic fantasy is just not my thing; the camaraderie sentiments they are built upon grate on my nerves, and Tolkien’s language reads like a wee lass’s tea party. I lean more to Robert E Howard, Lovecraft and Clark Ashton Smith in my fantasy predilections of the old timey vein.

              1. alan,

                Have you ever seen The Whole Wide World? It’s a Howard biopic with Vincent D’Onofrio.

                1. My bro-law has it, but I haven’t made time to borrow it from him, yet.

          3. The extended versions are much better, they fill in a lot of the missing gaps. They decided to cut Tom out because they had to cut something, and picked that section because it’s a self contained side story. I think it was a good decision, especially for the general audience rather than just fans of the book.

            1. Where the fuck it Tom? is a rhetorical question, I predicted it as the first thing cut when I heard the movies were being made.

              That said, I wouldnt have done it.

            2. Tom screams cut me. Something had to go, after all.

              1. But…but…Goldberry!!!!

                1. They merged her with Arwen?

                2. But…but…Goldberry!!!!

                  I feel your pain, but it had to be done.

          4. What the fuck was with the Army of the Dead in the third one? They weren’t even at the battle of the Pellanor Fields. Fuckin’ Peter Jackson. At least he (allegedly) got Leonard Nimoy to be the voice of Smaug. That’ll be cool, maybe.

            1. Seems like they’ve cast multiple actors from the first three movies to appear in this one, in which they either totally don’t belong or, at least, weren’t mentioned. I think that bodes ill for the story remotely resembling the book.

              1. I think the characters are there to fill in the backstory, which is available in the appendices of Return of the King, parts of the Silmarillion, and the Unfinished Tales. If done well, I don’t have a problem with it, but given Jackson’s heavy handedness, I am a little worried.

                1. If they just make a cameo it will probably be ok, but if they play some significant role it will feel way too forced.

                  1. My concern would be dialog. Tolkien didn’t write any for the White Council’s assault on Dol Guldur.

          5. My first girlfriend and I would have dinner with her parents and watch scifi every Friday night. One time we rented Children of Dune. A Fremen orgy is not what you want to be watching with a couple while snuggling with their 18 year old daughter.

          6. There were at least two versions of Dune. Which sucked least in your opinion?

        2. I’m one of these creatures you speak of. I’m an objectivist and I have no interest in calling the movie good if it is a bad representation of a great novel and I have no interest in calling it bad if it really captures what I think is so great about the novel. If the movie sucks, I’ll say “Don’t bother, read the book instead” and if I think it’s good, I’ll rave about it and encourage everyone I know to see it. I’m very excited to see it, though the trailer makes me think it will be okay but not great. I hope to be surprised. My wife, who is also an orthodox randroid cult-following rape-loving sociopath, thinks the movie will be horrible and doesn’t want to see it though she is willing to go with me…out of charity

          1. Having happily once dated someone of that ilk, I’ll just say I suspect that you’ll pay for her charity one way or the other. Which perhaps is as it should be.

      2. You’re kidding yourself if you think the Rand followers are going to put aside their devotion and judge the movie on pure artistic or entertainment value.

        Bullshit. I’m an Objectivist and I watched the oftentimes cringeworthy movie adaption of “The Fountainhead”. The harshest critics of this movie, if poorly made, would be Objectivists.

        I’ve only seen the clip of Rearden with his bitchy wife and Progressive friends, and I was pleasantly surprised at how good it was.

  2. I’ll wait for Ebert to tell me what to think.

  3. OK, those guys actualy makes a LOT of sense when you think about it.


  4. [T]he intent of this review is not to debate the politics or ethics of Objectivism

    “…but I am going to go ahead and call it a “cult” anyway.”

    1. Ha ha ha!!! Exactly!!! What a dishonest, hypocritical buffoon!

  5. So people who like the book like the movie and those who don’t, don’t. Color me surprised.

    Personally, I found the cinematography in the trailer to be laughably bad. Laughably. But I don’t care for her prose, so I’m already doing what I said in the paragraph above. I’ll tell you this: I will go see it and pay for it and contribute to its possible success. But if I think it’s bad, I will slam it harder than Charlie Sheen bangs rocks and porn stars.

    1. Personally, I found the cinematography in the trailer to be laughably bad.

      I am sure that a brilliant snob such as yourself would have no trouble outlining the precise problems, right?

      1. What’s funny is that you don’t even understand what I just said. How fucking stupid are you? Oh, I know: a lot.

        1. I understand what you said. The sad part is is that you don’t. You get called on your faux-elitism and you are instantly in attack mode. Why is that, I wonder?

          Oh, wait, no I don’t.

          1. Epi’s elitism isn’t “faux”, it’s genuine.

            And I mean that non-judgmentally.

          2. I know, it’s weird, you call someone a “brilliant snob” and then for no reason they go all “attack mode” on you!

            On the other hand, it was entirely reasonable to ask what specifically was wrong with the cinematography. Episiarch, want to pretend that I asked first, and that I found some sarcasm-free insult-free way to phrase the question?


          3. Honestly, if you can’t see–and that is the critical part–what’s wrong with the cinematography, I can’t explain it to you, because you have zero fucking clue.

            Sorry I insulted your hero’s movie. Oh wait, I’m not. Fuck you, Randroid. It’s utterly unsurprising to me that you have zero taste or understanding of style.

            1. I knew you didn’t know what you were talking about. I have suspected you were faking this hyper-elitism for a while, but I did not know it would be this easy to confirm my suspicions.

              You are a joke.

              1. I’ve been over this with you before, Randroid: just because you want something to be true doesn’t make it so. Who are Dante Spinotti and Dean Cundey? Do you even know? Do you know why they’re good?

                It’s stunningly pathetic of you to defend a trailer which looks like it was shot on Betamax. But it doesn’t surprise me in the least, seeing as you are a retarded cultist.

                1. Wow, color me impressed: you can look up “Famous Cinematographers” on Google and name-drop them. Combined with your (naturally, for a big film expert such as yourself) indignant attitude, most people would be cowed (“Wow! This guy name-dropped people I have never heard of! He must know what he is talking about!”)

                  1. HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

                    Keep going, Randroid. This shit is gold.

                    1. “The blind beast flails about, striking wildly…not understanding from where its pain comes, nor caring.”

                2. Who are Dante Spinotti and Dean Cundey? Do you even know? Do you know why they’re good?

                  No, I don’t. Could you explain it to those of us who don’t claim to know shit about cinematography, and who didn’t see what was so bad about that trailer?

                  1. Come on now. Poseurs always run when you ask them for details.

            2. Epi, you can never judge cinematography from a trailer viewed on youtube. That’s like judging a trip to Tibet because you looked at a map.

            3. Honestly, if you can’t see–and that is the critical part–what’s wrong with the cinematography, I can’t explain it to you, because you have zero fucking clue.

              Sorry, Epi, not buying it. Are you that inarticulate that you can’t explain ANYTHING that is wrong with the cinematography while still hating it? Not one damn thing that is wrong? Really?

      2. In all respects, this looks/sounds/feels like a TV movie. To me it’s not a question of snobbery, it’s a question of having functional eyes and ears and having seen both TV and big screen movies before. And also being able to gauge a movie on its relative merits and not merely the source of its content.

        If you are not particularly discriminating and generally like everything you see, that’s perfectly fine: you create jobs in Hollywood. But don’t take offense when others simply call them as as they see them.

        I was hopeful for Atlas Shrugged. Why? Because I like good movies. The content is not a criterion in what makes a great film. Although interesting content can tilt the balance from a marginal movie to an interesting or thought-provoking one, that doesn’t appear to be the case here. To me.
        (Either way, being interesting doesn’t make a movie any less marginal.)

        1. Really, panning a movie because it is unenjoyable is fine. Required for intelligence, actually. I would not respect someone who indiscriminately loved every piece of film ever.

          However, I recognize lame fakery when I see it. Cinematography? Give me a break. And if he is expert enough to judge the trailer on its cinematography, then he should have no problem explaining what, in particular, was wrong with said cinematography.

          1. Again, if you can’t see it, you are beyond help. But seeing as you are a slavish cultist, that is completely unsurprising.

            1. Well, of course!

              Why am I suddenly reminded of The Emperor’s New Clothes whenever I see your writing?

            2. Argument from intimidation. How ironic.

          2. Cinematography? Give me a break.

            It’s not that tough to sort good cinematography from bad since it’s, like, one of the most obvious parts of a movie.

        2. Considering it has the budget of a TV movie, not surprising. Reviews so far seem to suggest “very good made for TV movie”.

          1. There’s an argument that Serenity was that, too, and it was a good film.

            1. Not to mention the second Stieg Larsson film.

          2. http://www.slate.com/id/2287075/

            By David Weigel

            Anyone who’s seen a SyFy Channel original movie in which a mutated insect battles a mutated amphibian will be comfortable with the production quality. Anyone who’s seen a faithful Christian adaptation of a Bible story will be comfortable with the style of adaptation?as much original text on-screen as the screen can hold. The actors and scenes are there to present Rand’s philosophy to the Twilight and Nicholas Sparks set.

            1. Huh.

            2. Weigel, I hope you weren’t fattening yourself up with popcorn even more while watching the movie. Those button-up shirts and khakis aren’t going to fit anymore (not that they really do now).

        3. I get what you’re saying, but FUCK, MAN – you could film Kubrick’s Paths of Glory for less than the cost of most modern made for TV films.

          Production values matter to me, too, and as I said below I’m not really interested in a low-budget Atlas, but completely pushing content aside because something looks like it was made for TV seems odd to me.

          I’m now thinking of all the other great films that in the modern era would look like they were made for TV: Network, Cool Hand Luke, Marty…hell, every movie made in the 30’s that wasn’t Oz or GWTW.

          1. Or Rope for that matter. Bring the actors back from the dead and you could make Rope with one room, three pieces of furniture and Les Stroud’s camera. EXACTLY LIKE THE ORIGINAL.

        4. “The content is not a criterion in what makes a great film.”


    2. I thought the acting in the trailer seemed pretty bad, except for the guy who played Rearden. And Armin Shimerman. And that guy…you know, that guy. That guy who was Jeremy Piven’s assistant in Old School, that guy who was part of the yuppie married couple at the beginning of Idiocracy. That guy.

      Everyone else sorta sucked.

      1. Armin Shimerman did voice work on Bioshock, was an unrepentant capitalist in ST:DS9, and now is in Atlas Shrugged.


        1. He was also the principal on Buffy.

          1. A caddy on Seinfeld, I think.

            1. And he was in What the Bleep Do We Know, the independent pseudoscience film made by Ramtha people.

              If anyone can see a pattern in any of this, please stay away from me.

              1. Having recently made the mistake of watching the first little while of “The Secret,” I can’t hate him all that much for being in What the ….

          2. That’s the kind of wooly-headed liberal thinking that leads to being eaten.

            1. Perfect. 🙂

      2. And that guy…you know, that guy. That guy who was Jeremy Piven’s assistant in Old School, that guy who was part of the yuppie married couple at the beginning of Idiocracy. That guy.

        Patrick Fischler. Also known as “the guy in the beginning of MULHOLLAND DRIVE” and “the comedian who shows up on MAD MEN from time to time.”

        1. Hell yeah, getting in trouble over Utz snack products in season one.

        2. Yeah, that guy. He was on Lost, too. He’s one of my favorite “that guy” guys. Always does good work whenever he shows up. Him and John Hawkes. Someone should make a movie starring those two as brothers. It’d work.

    3. Not necessarily. I liked the book The Fountainhead, but thought the movie suffered from a horrible screenplay.

      That having been said, as I wrote in the linked piece three years ago, I still think a lot of the criticism is based solely on politics. (Note: Heroes for Sale, the movie with a leftist perspective that I mentioned in that post, has since been released to DVD.)

      1. Eh to the book for me (I love AS though), but the Fountainhead movie was hilariously bad.

        My favorite quote is when Dominique speaking to Roark says “I wish I had never seen your… building.”


  6. This movie’s in the category of “Last Temptation of Christ”–you know what you think of it before you even go in the theater.

    Truth be told, I never thought much of Ayn Rand’s books. I’m not sure why she’s considered the preferred literary path to libertarianism, as opposed to an actually good writer like Robert Heinlein or P.J. O’Rourke.

    1. I agree about Robert Heinlein. (Most of) his books are so awesome. Polygamy aside, why can’t they make a movie about The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress? Or at least an HBO miniseries? HBO likes polygamy, right?

      1. Polygamy aside, why can’t they make a movie about The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress?

        That would be awesome, but they would probably screw it up somehow. Look at Starship Troopers. I actually like the movie, but it’s not to be confused with the book.

        1. The spec script for Mistress that is floating around the internet wasnt horrible. The first 1/3 sucked, but it found its way laer on.

          It seemed to strip the libertarian/anarchist themes out in favor of straight revolution though.

        2. I’d love to see a film adaptation of Delaney’s Nova. There is a profoundly optimistic left libertarian faith in the evolutionary tract of humanity that runs through out his work that lefty Maddow-holes could really use some exposure too. Not to mention it’s a fantastic story.

        3. On this subject, they’re actually making a movie out of Hyperion. Looks like it’s leaning towards being a horror movie, though.

          1. Egad. You mean it’s just going to be the Shrike tearing people apart? Can’t they just skip raping the book to tell that story?

            Next up, Alien vs. Predator vs. The Shrike.

            1. While killing people the Shrike will yell “Christfag!”

      2. I think some people get flustered about Heinlein’s stories that experiment with concepts of military service and citizenship, be it in Between Planets or Starship Troopers. It’s no wackier a social contract than some other experiments out there.

    2. I’d surmise that part of the reason is that the prose and the way the argument is made seem to appeal to young adults. I don’t know why and I’m not going to theorize in comments. As for Heinlein, well his libertarian works always seem to take a back seat to SST, and it’s SciFi. O’Rourke, he doesn’t write fiction.

      1. I’d surmise that part of the reason is that the prose and the way the argument is made seem to appeal to young adults.

        Since Heinlein actually wrote for young adults (not all the time, but some of the time), that doesn’t go very far in explaining the marginal differences in effectiveness between Rand and Heinlein.

        I think it’s just that Heinlein’s political philosophy was kind of a mish-mash of stuff and not a central theme of his stories.

        Also, you know, he didn’t publish books and volumes of essays on political philosophy. That might have more than a little to do with it.

        Personally, I love Heinlein, but he had almost no impact on my beliefs.

    3. I like much of Heinlein’s fiction and ideas, but I have never been able to understand why people claim Stranger_in_a_Strange_Land is a good book.

      1. I agree. I didn’t hate it, but it wasn’t great, either. Could be a generational thing. I read it in the 80’s. It might have seemed more groundbreaking in the early 60’s.

      2. I like much of Heinlein’s fiction and ideas, but I have never been able to understand grok why people claim Stranger_in_a_Strange_Land is a good book.


      3. Stranger is a good book to people who haven’t read much else by Heinlein.

      4. I never got through it. It is such a painfully boring book! And I say that as someone who has read about a dozen other Heinlein books.

        The Cat That Could Walk Through Walls is also a shitty story. I remember being especially annoyed by the ending.

      5. I liked Stranger when I was a kid (around 11), but I tried to read it again a few years ago and I found the dialog to be stilted, if not out right phony in that tin can delivery common to movies about newspapers from that era.

        I put it down before it got around to Jubal. I didn’t want to be disappointed.

        Oddly, I have not seen that problem creep up in other work of his from that period, Citizen of the Galaxy still reads pretty well.

        1. alan,

          I Will Fear No Evil is when Heinlein nuked the fridge, and Stranger foreshadows the problems of Evil. Everything after that is pretty suspect except for Job.

          To Sail Beyond Sunset is good as a companion piece to Time Enough For Love, but it’s Heinlein’s meta-comment on his whole body of work, so it’s rough going for anyone not super-familiar with the Past Through Tomorrow future history.

          1. You may be forgetting Friday. Which I personally liked. Number of the Beast had some moments. The least annoying of his philosophical exposition novels in my opinion. Oh, wait, Job began with the firewalk, right? That would be Job then.

          2. You know though, even the philosophical exposition novels would likely had worked if Heinlein wasn’t so drawn to chatty Cathys who are in love with their own voices. Can you think of an author with more annoying female characters?

            To that effect, I think the Gor series got it right.

            1. Yes, you’re right. I would except Dark AngelFriday as well. Although, you see the shape of things to come in Friday when you realize that he is cannibalizing his own past work–in this case, The Puppet Masters–for the setting.

              Number of the Beast is where he went off the rails. The conception of the fictional-works multiverse gave him the ultimate deus ex machina Lazarus to go on and ruin Cat. Beast and Cat are the only two Heinelin works that I don’t reread when I get on a Heinlein kick.

            2. Weird… disappearing post…

              Can you think of an author with more annoying female characters?

              Jennifer Weiner

            3. The problem with Heinlein’s female characters is that they thought and sounded like a male character with tits and a pussy.

              Real women don’t think like that.

              1. That comes pretty close to the underlying problem. I think he differentiated them from his male characters, except the creatures he created didn’t sound like women either! The women I’m most familiar with tend be more sober minded, less chatty, curt even, than the guys (especially me) that I know. RAH women were constantly trying to be cute.

      6. It has a couple philosophical themes on language and relationships that are pretty neat if you haven’t encountered them before. Other than that, though, the plot and pacing are definitely not as strong as Moon or Troopers.

      7. I like much of Heinlein’s fiction and ideas, but I have never been able to understand why people claim Stranger_in_a_Strange_Land is a good book.

        I can’t grok liking other Heinlein stuff but not loving Stranger in a Strange Land. His best work, IMO, and that’s a high bar to clear since he wrote some other great stuff.

        1. Well, OK, TIED for his best work with “the Moon is a Harsh Mistress”.

    4. I’ve never been able to finish as much as a chapter of any Heinlein novel. OTOH, I’ve read many of P.J.’s books and found them entertainingly written and often hilarious. De gustibus… I suppose.

      1. Among the Euroweenies! The ending is XCLENT.

    5. Path to Libertarianism? Rand would slap your face for that. She was no fan of Libertarians. Read some of her other works.
      I do agree re: Heinlein and O’Rourke, but they are entirely different types of writers.

    6. I went in to Last Temptation of Christ expecting to like it because I like Scorsese and usually like anything that gets religious types all pissy. I thought the movie was awful. And I’m not a very harsh movie critic. I actually enjoy eating popcorn to Bruckheimer productions. Even the ones directed by everyone’s most hated filmmaker.

    7. “This movie’s in the category of “Last Temptation of Christ”–you know what you think of it before you even go in the theater.”

      I could never go to see that film because Jesus would be up on the cross suffering and moaning, which would remind of the South Park version and I’d start laughing my ass off.

      1. Oops! I was thinking of the Mell Gibson Jesus flick. What was that called?

        1. The Passion of the Christ. It’s a film version of the passion play.

          1. And it is actually a pretty amazing piece of cinema. I wouldn’t exactly call it enjoyable though. Gibson has real talent for recreating ancient violent episodes with a feeling of authenticity. Braveheart, Passion and Apocalypto – all very authentic feeling and extremely violent. It is his true gift. 2 of the 3 are done in the ancient language with subtitles – an interesting shift from normal cinema (where Russian submarine captains speak English with a Scottish brogue. )

    8. I don’t know about the preferred path, but certainly a common one.

      Although I had read some Friedman, etc. before I read Rand.

      We The Living was pretty good and both the Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged had some good scenes and some good dialogue although they also both had problems.

      I still like the opening of the Fountainhead where she writes something about how the buildings on campus worked to block out two great enemies: light and air and that they were equipped with gargoyles that could be used to drop molten lead onto the heads of attackers, should such be necessary in an institution of higher learning. Sorry that’s from memory. have not read those words in 25 years.

  7. I don’t need to see it to know that it confirms what I already think about Ayn Rand.

    1. And when I say this, it’s way more insightful than when other people make the same exact point.

      1. There’s also nothing pathetic about replying to your own comments.

        1. The pathetic part is when nobody else replies to them, either. That should surely suck!

          1. Thanks for your kindness in replying.

            1. He was being sarcastic.

              1. Too funny.

  8. What’s to love about a movie whose author was an atheist, adulterer, pro abortionist, who didn’t think that charitable giving was a attribute to society, in a positive light?

    1. English, please.

      1. The guy has an AOL email address… I wouldn’t hold your breath.

        1. It got the atheism part right, at least.

    2. What’s to love about a book whose author created Hell and made man’s soul immortal just so most of them could burn there eternally?

      1. There’s no hell in the Bible. A a couple of mentions about Gehenna and “unquenchable fire” but no hell…

        1. Which version of the Bible are you using? King James Version has 54 references to “hell.” I suspect you are using the picture version that I see on late night television where the end of the world is expected on May 12.

          1. You need a Strong’s Concordence and a desire to srudy in the original Hebrew, Greek and Aramaic.


            1. Fucking HTML, how does it work?

          2. Gehenna was a place outside Jerusalem where garbage and bodies were burned. Some English versions of the Bible translate Gehenna as “hell,” but in fact the Bible was actually talking about a physical place.

            1. Yeah, but considering that it’s a physical place where both body and soul are destroyed (Matthew 10:28), it sounds pretty much like Hell. I wouldn’t be so fast to conclude that Jesus was talking about that garbage dump outside the walls. (Similarly, the Revelation of St. John refers to “Babylon”, but I don’t think John was talking about the town in Mesopotamia.)

              1. No doubt that they were using Gehenna as a metaphor to whatever happens to “bad” souls in the afterlife. However, our conception of fire and brimstone hell, with rings and circles and Satan and demons and such is a modern creation. Being in Gehenna the dump was likened to hell–so what would be the modern equivalent–the bad part of Detroit? My point is–the modern conception of hell is really not in the Bible.

                1. And there is enough doubt surrounding the equivalency of Gehenna with hell that many translations of the Bible do not translate it as hell or sometimes completely omit the references

          3. Maybe he’s reading the Wholly Bibble.

    3. I enjoy the comedic relief of the drive-by conservative posters here who don’t have a clue about the differences between libertarians and (social) conservatives.

    4. atheist, adulterer, pro abortionist

      And sometimes all in one night!

    5. You have not read or understood Rand’s philosophy. Frequently when discussing charity, she is referring to forced charity, charity born of guilt. Being charitable under threat of burning in hell is not charity.

      1. You have not read or understood Rand’s philosophy

        That little quibble never stops Rand’s detractors. She wholeheartedly approved of private, uncoerced charity when the giving was a value to the giver (and recipient) and not a societal “duty” or guilty ethical compromise.

    6. But enough about Michael Moore.

  9. Am I the only one who thinks the guy in the last picture looks like Nick Gillespie during his recent unshaven phase?

    1. I too think that.

  10. There is absolutely no chemistry between the characters, not even a single metabolic drop.

    Wow, they really did capture the essence of the book.

  11. What the fuck is a metabolic drop?

    1. I’ll tell you when you get older.

  12. I’m interested enough to cough up money to see it. I’m not enough of a film snob to notice when cinematography is “laughably bad”, so I’m sure I’ll enjoy it.

    1. I’m not enough of a film snob to notice when cinematography is “laughably bad”

      Don’t worry; neither is Episiarch. He affects that attitude to make himself look more discerning than he really is.

      1. Those fooled, please say ‘aye’.


      2. Episiarch’s opinions of Rand and Objectivism are comically predictable (and repetitive) and cannot be taken seriously by any serious individual. He has an ax to grind. It’s boring and childish and pointless.

        1. It’sHe’s boring and childish and pointless.


  13. Barbara Branden’s opinion means a lot to me – her positive review is the one I’m paying most attention to here. I like Barbara, and have a lot of respect for her. I’m going to try hard to go see this film based on her glowing review.

    1. Good point. She of all Objectivist would most likely not be a Randroid.

  14. Did you fail [chemistry class] by chance?

    No, I passed it by working hard.

  15. Utter gibberish. Don’t miss this NY Times editorial, assholes:


    1. Wow, an unsigned editorial in the NYTimes? Tarnation, I’m convinced!

    2. “more than $61 billion in ruinous cuts over the next seven months, all under the pretext of “fiscal responsibility.”

      $61 billion ? That’s like 2% of the federal budget ? Ruinous, I tells ya ! Ruinous !!

    3. This is a shitty movie review, Max. Troll harder.

  16. But does it have a bunch of stuff exploding?!

    1. I think Wyatt’s Torch will count.

  17. And car chases- does it have lots of car chases? With exploding cars?

    1. If you want exploding cars, let me recommend Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever. It contains so many exploding cars it doesn’t even bother with telling a story.


      1. Also, Lucy Liu.

  18. I think one can judge a film having not read the source material. The Shining was an excellent movie, I can say in confidence, having never read the novel. I don’t consider myself a film snob (I’ve gone on record saying Malice was Aaron Sorkin’s finest work to date).

    I would like to see someone at Reason really dig into this movie AS a movie. Is it good, is it shit, is it “meh”. Objectivism aside.

    1. Surely Loder will have a look at it.

    2. Didnt Welch the other day review it and has never read it?

      1. Honestly, english is my first language.

        1. After which I have read these things you say, I am without problems to find.

  19. The run of the John Galt Line is thrilling

    One of the greatest chapters in all of American fiction.

  20. I think one can judge a film having not read the source material.

    Many times, it’s essential.

    Exhibit A: the Worst Movie Ever Made, Starship Troopers.

    The people in the audience who had never read the book could sit there, befuddled, murmuring, “What… the… FUCK?” over and over to themselves, while those of us who *had* read the book could only grind our teeth in anguish and dismay, murmuring, “What… the… FUCK? WHAT DID THEY DO WITH THE BOOK?” over and over.

    1. the Worst Movie Ever Made, Starship Troopers.

      Some one didnt see Dune.

      While ST was awful, it was brilliant compared to Dune. ST was a bad parody of the book, Dune was basically setting Herbert’s corpse on fire.

      1. I was very disappointed in Dune, but I thought it had some good in it, too.

        1. Growing up I always got the movies Krull and Dune confused with one another. I have never read any Dune books.

          1. You should read Dune. It’s a great book.

            1. So what is the highest ranked book on this list that isnt a must read SF book?

              I would say #15 Hyperion.

              1. No. 1 pretty much makes that whole list an EPIC FAIL in my opinion.

                1. I have no interest in any other Card novels, but Ender’s Game is a must read, if for no other reason than to know why no to read any more Card.

                  1. That’s the only reason to read it. Homophobic wish-fulfillment novelization of The Last Starfighter. Bleech.

                    Any list with that in the top 50, makes me think the list was poll-bombed by people who really don’t know much about science fiction.

                    1. In one of Card’s books, actually a collection of novellas tied together, he wrote an essay accompanying the stories that was seriously marred in Mormon supremacist ranting. I’ll have to find my copy sometime to give you an example. I can’t look at the guy now without sneering in contempt after reading it, so I ignore him.

                  2. I live in the same small town as the guy. I prefer to pretend not to know who he is when running into him. Oh, it gets worst. A two miles up the road, Daughtry.

              2. Say, I like Hyperion.

                I’ve seen that list before. Not bad, as far as the entries go, but the order is nuts. Ender’s Game number one? Really? It’s a fine book, but it’s not near the all-time top.

                1. I’ve always liked Pringle’s list, but it is only 1949-1984 and he has his quirks.

                  I could do a 100 in no particular order. The ranking would be the hard part in my mind. I’ve out together a few SF core reading lists, but not since the 2nd British invasion.

                  1. Pringle’s great. I used to chat with him on a JG Ballard list.

                2. Hyperion and The Fall of Hyperion have always seemed like a single book to me, rather than a novel + sequel. The 2nd set of books are so unsuccessful, I’ve never read them again.

                  1. Yes, they really are one book. Simmons has some flaws, but I think he came up with a very compelling setting and storyline. The characters were decent, too.

                3. Say, I like Hyperion.

                  I havent read it. Its just the highest that Ive never even considered reading, really probably the only in the top 30 that that is true of.

                  It never seemed like a must read type novel.

                  There are plenty below it that I would put on a must read list.

                  1. I recommend it highly. I thought it started off slightly goofy, but it gets better. I agree with SF that the first two are excellent, with a big drop off after that, but I think even the last books are worth a read.

              3. I’m an outlier on this, but I found Asimov’s Foundation trilogy both silly and dull. As a kid, Ender’s Game is what got me hooked on SF, and I think that’s the case for many people, hence the high position on the list. I don’t hold Card’s politics or religion against him. He writes some crap, but then most writers do. He didn’t win two Hugos back to back for nothing.

        2. Yes, the closing credits.

          1. I liked some of the styling–not all of it–thought the casting was generally good, with a few exceptions, and the ending credits were awesome.

      2. Didn’t Herbert like the movie? I seem to remember that he was pretty happy with it.

        1. Yes, he was. He also wrote Heretics and Chapterhouse.

          1. You know, I liked those books. Not Dune liked, but liked.

            Allowing his son to touch his material. . .that’s a crime.

            1. The director’s cut of the David Lynch’s Dune is actually pretty decent, and while it’s still just an abbreviated version of the book, it works a lot better than the chopped up theatrical release.

          2. I’ve read worse books. It can’t be easy to kick out sequels to one of the greatest science fiction novels ever written.

            1. It can’t be easy to kick out sequels to one of the greatest science fiction novels ever written.

              Then dont. That is why you stop before that point.

              1. Exactly, though I am fanatic. I think all extended universe materials are TEH SUCK. Star Wars/Trek, Buffy, X-Files novels, all that crap can go. If the original creator is not involved, I just don’t give a shit.

                1. I normally agree completely, but I do have to say that I really liked the story line in the Star Wars: Knights of the Old Republic game. It’s set thousands of years before the movies, which I think gave the writers enough freedom from Lucas’ leash to do something really interesting.

                  Odd that a game would actually have a good story line–which is usually not the case–but there it is.

                  1. Yeah, I actually think some of the Star Wars authors are much better than Lucas. I kind of wish he had made those movies instead of the second trilogy. Midiclorians my ass…

          3. I really liked Herbert’s Under Pressure. It’s absence is among the other disappointments on that top 100 list. (Seriously, Sphere?!)

      3. ST also provided appropriate fan service in the form of Dina Meyer.

    2. The worst movie ever made is a squishy thing to define. Worst ever ever? Dune and ST don’t even come close. Worst adaption of a beloved science fiction novel? The SyFy Channel’s Princess of Mars is worst than both of them put together.

      Hell, Lynch’s Dune is not even the worst adaption of Dune. That European co-production one was far, far worse. The Sardaukar were dressed like snotty French waiters and I’m pretty sure the stillsuits were black garbage bags and tape.

      1. If you really knew Dune, you’d realize that the Sardaukar were snotty French waiters.

        Just an aside, but I seem to recall that the Sardaukar analogue in the Harvard Lamppon parody, Doon, were bouncers.

        1. Not that Lynch’s goth hazmat suits were much better, but they were at least dehumanizingly mysterious, if not scary.

          1. But, there shouldnt be anything dehumanizing about the Sardaukar. They werent inhuman, they were just the best warriors.

            1. I’m not defending Lynch so as saying that there were far worst ways to do it. Without an exposition about why the S are so badass, the filmic shortcut is to make them look badass. Lynch > SyFy.

              1. Oddest thing about that movie. Every scene works on its own in brilliantly individualized ways. Where there is effect, he tends to unravel it like exposition, like the blown green gas, and where the scenes rely on something as trite as Hollywood acting, he gives you something to chuckle over (Kyle MacLachlan’s smug nodding demeanor while riding the worm, the whole of Sting’s prisspot homicidal insanity) Yet, as a totality, the movie never seemed to come together.

                Though, I bet if I watched it again, about twenty years since I’ve last seen it, I would change my mind about that.

                1. alan,

                  I think you’ve hit on the problem of many adaptations. I don’t care if the movie is different than the book, as long as it becomes it’s own work. Too many adaptations are little more than a collection of cool scenes from the book.

                  The longer Lynch Dune, which I saw years ago, had more cohesion, but ran 4 hours long.

                  1. Bladerunner is a good example. It’s quite different from the book, but, really, it’s better in a number of ways.

                    1. Yup. You understood 90% of what was going on without having to refer to the book. BR is choppy in parts, and mostly none of is fixed my the 5 different versions running around, but it was a story unto itself.

                      I do wish they hadn’t left out my favorite scene, but it would have altered the entire storyline to include it.

            2. All of the various groups (e.g., Mentats, Bene Gesserit, Sardaukar, Fremen) were simply humans bred and educated to a very high performance level. Technology is quite limited in many areas, especially in the first few books. More superhuman than inhuman.

            3. No, they were the second best warriors. In fact, they may have even been the third best, as it’s never entirely clear whether the Duke’s small forces had exceeded the Sardaukar’s capabilities.

              1. Duncan and Gurney were better than any Saudaukar one-on-one, and they were training the Duke’s men. But the Saudaukar always had numbers on their side–not to mention the Guild transport monopoly.

                The Fremen, as a class, were the best fighters. They were even able to bring jihad to the planets set aside for the Saudaukar.

                1. Right, the book is clear that numbers were the Duke’s big problem. Of course, given a little time, he could’ve trained the Fremen and Boom! Good thing he brought Paul along to finish the job.

              2. No, they were the second best warriors.

                Everyone knows that desert scum dont count. Plus, there couldnt be enough of them to matter.

                1. Make it a point to know whether the people you are oppressing could not only kick your ass but the rest of the known universe’s as well. Good information to have.

      2. I wasnt really saying that Dune was the worst movie ever. But worse than Starship Troopers.

        However: Value(novel) – Value(movie), Dune wins as biggest difference. You can claim Princess of Mars I guess, I have neither seen nor read it so cant comment. Im thinking Dune has enough initial value as a novel to win that though.

    3. man, starship troopers was hilarious.

      fuckin’ twilight fans, how do they work?

      1. I don’t get the hate on Starship Troopers. It didn’t have anything to do with the book, but that movie was hilarious. I guess I’m the rare duck that likes a dark comedy. Actually my buddy and I were the only two people in a packed theater who seemed to understand that it was a dark comedy. Nobody else laughed, and a few seemed horrified when we laughed out loud …

        “Medic!” … classic…

        1. I hated it because I wanted to see the Mobile Infantry Powered Armor and them make the acutal space drops! But apparently the director was too lazy and stupid to read the book.

          But interestingly enough, the Marines in James Cameron’s Aliens was inspired by the MI from Starship Troopers.

        2. Exactly. My favorite line from the movie is when Carl says, “It’s afraid!” That was just hilarious. But like you said, a lot of people just don’t get it. I also like how a bit of Heinlein sneaks in around the corners and through the cracks, in spite of the Director’s best efforts.

  21. To me it’s not a question of snobbery, it’s a question of having functional eyes and ears and having seen both TV and big screen movies before.

    This. Except it doesn’t even look as well-made as a TV movie. It has the sloppy framing and filmed-play pacing of one, but it looks like a Flip-camera comedy sketch called “Ikea Catalog: After Dark.”

  22. I would venture to say that the best way to judge the quality of a film is to have never read the book first. That way you will at least have minimized your preconceived notions about the source material, and will not be able to plug in plot holes in the screenplay with what you know from the book.

    Of course most of us are familiar enough with Rand and the source material that even if we haven’t read the book, we’d have some pre-formed opinion about it. I’ll be anxious to see what my (non-political) wife thinks of the film; someone who is not a libertarian, and not familiar with Rand at all, will be able to give an honest assessment hopefully.

  23. I read somewhere this morning that they are planning to remake Bladerunner.

    1. Bad, bad idea. Even a movie closer to the novel wouldn’t avoid the inevitable comparisons.

      Hollywood has reached a creative dead zone that’s disconcerting. I’ve heard it said that’s because of the international market, but who knows?

    2. Not a re-make, a prequel or a sequel. So Phantom Menace or Jaws 3D, take your pick.

      1. If I just had to return to that well, I’d do different, unrelated characters. Could even do it with an obvious replicant as the protagonist.

    3. Well it is tempting since it represents one of the great lost opportunities to make a great sci-fi movie. But I would say no, just like Superman II, Blade Runner also allowed it’s director to reassemble the definitive cut of the movie.

  24. The Fountainhead is a much better book.

    Atlas Shrugged was too much of a rant… a great example of how more is often less.

    Hopefully, since movies are forced to take out a lot, this will cut out a lot of the blahloblaw

    1. Just skip over about 200 pages of speech. It is much less rant and much more enjoyable that way. I kind of felt like I was reading the “begats” in the bible when reading that speech.

  25. “There is absolutely no chemistry between the characters, not even a single metabolic drop”

    This speaks well for the movie’s faithfulness to the book.

  26. It can’t be easy to kick out sequels to one of the greatest science fiction novels ever written.

    I see the conversation has shifted to Bill, the Galactic Hero. The “sequels” all SUCKED.

    1. In complete agreement.

    2. There’s something odd to me that Make Room! Make Room! (Soylent Green) and the Stainless Steel Rat/Bill, the Galactic Hero books were written by the same guy.

  27. Pro Lib-

    Did you read A Canticle for Liebowitz yet?


    1. It’s on my reserve list at the library. I intend to read it this time.

    2. I, for one, would love to see a movie adaptation of A Canticle for Liebowitz. However, knowing Hollywood, they’d change the setting from post-nuclear war to post global-warming, enviro-apocalypse or some shit. They’d change the Catholic monastery to a Sufi madrassa too.

    3. Canticle would work best on Starz or something – one 90 minute episode for each time period in the book.

    4. The book was good, except for the ending. I also do not fully understand who that mysterious old man was supposed to be ?

  28. I have to say this is a pretty fun thread. Then I go check this out,


    filled with barbarous trolls and socialist, and I’m a little depressed being here all over again.

  29. I’m a big fan of AS but I could never bring myself to watch this.

    The Gary Cooper version of The Fountainhead is so awful that I guess I’m traumatized.

    I liked that Italian version of We The Living, though.

    But a low-budget AS made by the Little Rascals in a barn somewhere – eh. I just don’t see how I could like it.

  30. Ross Berryman, Director of Photography.

    Mainly directs American TV series. Won Australian cinematographer of the year in 1990 for his work on an independent film called Outback.


    Opinion for anyone who cares: It looked artificial, like a fantasy art deco, which Kozinski pointed out. I’m intrigued by it. Then I saw that Berryman is the cinematographer for Ugly Betty (and Dollhouse, which I haven’t seen) and it made a little bit more sense. He does artifice well. He uses sort of unnatural hues in his coloring. I didn’t have a problem with the trailer, I thought it was interesting, and the best cinematography I’ve ever seen came from the French New Wave, notably Last Year At Marienbad. Those movies are gorgeous. That sets the standard for me.

    1. mainly directs works on, sorry.

  31. This is for all of the LOTR critics upthread.

    This one by Randall Graves is the best LOTR analysis of all time.

    1. I’m an LOTR fan as well and I will just say that it was as good as to be expected given the nature of Hollywood. I’m still fuming over what Paul Verhooven did to Robert A. Heinlein’s Starship Troopers. And then of course there is the great Dune debacle.

      1. You just have to watch starship troopers as if it has nothing to do with the novel. Because it actually has nothing in common with the novel other than a few names and the word “Citizenship”.

        Seen free of it’s supposed source material it is a brilliant send-up of the B budget sci-fi horror film. Brilliantly funny.

        1. I agree, but that’s not what I was expecting when I rented the movie after first reading the book. Hopefully some serious director will resurrect the story and produce a more serious adaption.

          But maybe a film of “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” instead.

    2. Entertaining. I posted it (with credit) at Urkobold.

  32. Objectivists might have blundered by exposing their foundation myth to a population not indoctrinated in advance to interpret it in the “right” way. Assuming that the rest of this film get made, and that it adheres closely enough to the novel, I wonder how American audiences, representing demographic reality, will react to the message that they deserve to die because they don’t measure up to the movie’s fictional heroes.

    An accurate movie would also have the problem of handling Galt’s implied adult virginity, love-obsessional stalking of Dagny and his underemployment. He sounds like the sort of “unsub” character who threatens an innocent woman in an episode of Criminal Minds.

  33. “There is absolutely no chemistry between the characters, not even a single metabolic drop.”

    So, basically, it was absolutely true to the novel!

  34. I find it delightfully amusing that both Silas Lesnick and Timothy Farmer sound incredibly like Elsworth Toohey. That’s exactly what he would have said… Can’t wait to see the movie!

  35. The didn’t do the movie justice, took a timless film and made it modern schizo pop culture. The fountainhead clearly was not read or dicussed when making this crap, what else to expect from right wing psychos. No cigarette in the diner. Propbably no pot on the set. People who make movies smoke pot, hence people who watch movies need to smoke pot.
    in utah every corner has a redbox not a liquor store.

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