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Kim Voynar

By Kim Voynar

The Atlas Shrugged Trailer … Shrug

They said it couldn’t be done. And maybe it shouldn’t have been.

It’s taken over 50 years for Ayn Rand’s seminal, 1,000+ page work, Atlas Shrugged, to get adapted for the big screen. I’ve lost count of how many writers, directors, big-name stars, and studios have been attached at various points to this mammoth project. Angelina Jolie. Not Angelina Jolie. Randall Wallace (whose script culled the novel down to a 2 1/2 hour film and was supposed to be not bad). Lionsgate. Not Lionsgate. Vadim Perelman. Not Vadim Perelman. Miniseries. No, not a miniseries! One movie. No, wait, three movies! You practically need a spreadsheet to keep track.

Look, I am not one to beat down anyone for trying their best to make a film independently, as producer John Aglialoro has been trying to do with Atlas Shrugged for over 15 years. That’s tenacity, people.

And I am not going to get on a soapbox about Objectivism, which, as it happens, I know a few things about because there was a time, many years ago before I became an Evil Socialist Liberal, when I identified with much of Rand’s philosophy. I met my ex on an Objectivist discussion board, so in a way I guess you could say I owe my four younger children to Ayn Rand and Atlas Shrugged.

And I know that it’s not really fair to judge a movie solely by its trailer, and that good movies have wretched trailers, and vice versa. However … okay, you’re just going to have to go watch this trailer for yourself. Go ahead, now. No, really, it’s okay. But maybe brace yourself a bit.

Back? Okay. Now maybe it’s just me, but I never fully appreciated just how atrociously bad Ayn Rand’s ear for realistic dialogue was until I heard it expressed in this trailer. Maybe part of it is the direction and the delivery, but sweet Mother Mary! What is with all the yelling, and the laughably earnest line delivery, and the dude who looks like he’s trying to channel Philip Seymour Hoffman but doing it badly?

I get that to a large extent their hands were likely tied on the dialogue. The Ayn Rand Institute and Leonard Peikoff (who sold rights to the novel to Aglialoro) probably had all kinds of stipulations in there about not changing Rand’s language and having to pull dialogue directly from the book. And if they had changed it up too much, the Objectivist fan base for the film would have had a conniption. They take their Rand very seriously.

I’ll reserve complete judgment until I watch the entire film. Maybe it all comes together really well, and it will be as moving and emotional and artistic as a film based on an Objectivist novel can possibly be (have you ever heard Objectivist poetry? I have. I wish I hadn’t.). But good Lord. This is just part one, there are two more parts slated … I just hope the last film isn’t three hours of John Galt’s big speech and nothing else, because that? Would be excruciating.

If you’re interested, by the bye, you can read about what it took to get the film made over here.

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26 Responses to “The Atlas Shrugged Trailer … Shrug”

  1. Raven West says:

    Did you watch the same trailer as I did? It’s so unbelievably perfect in every way, except for a few familiar faces, not to have put a “major” star in the film was perfect casting. People will go to the movie to see the movie, not to see a “name”. Finally an adult film I can’t wait to see! No vampires, no blood spattering, no senseless romantic tripe, just a really GREAT story that has changed the lives of so many and will continue to as long as there are intelligent, dedicated individuals in the world. It’s just too bad that Rand never lived to see this.

  2. john galt says:

    You say Ayn’s dialogue is “atrociously bad” as it was expressed in the trailer. I hope you realize, none of the lines in the trailer are from the book. Check your premises…

  3. PeterP says:

    Last poster nailed it.

  4. christian says:

    Despite my liberalism, Rand was a major influence on my youth (not a great thing all around but an enlightening one) and while I reject her selfishness bs, her writing is excellent and her dialogues are perfect examples of back and forth screenwriting. And she knew her Bond.

  5. Jeff says:

    The trailer did for me what trailer’s are intended to do–make me eager to see the film. It did just that. I looks like it has captured exciting scenes, but I agree the character of Hank Reardon in the few lines of the trailer seemed a bit low energy and sinister-voiced. No problem, though, the overall couple minutes nailed it.

  6. To pundits like Kim the only thing that counts as “intelligent discourse” is “I’m Gay”.

  7. Philip says:

    > What is with all the yelling, and the laughably earnest line delivery

    Did you miss the fact that drama is based around conflict and that means people may have strong opposing values and some may even be ‘earnest’ about them. And gosh, goodness, sweet Mother of Mary, they might even … (shudder)… YELL about them.

  8. cmonster says:

    Dollars to doughnuts that Ms. Voynar never read the book even though she says she has a history in Objectivism. My guess that she is a child of “The Fountainhead.” Better yet I bet she watched the movie instead of reading the book.

    To think that the dialog from the Atlas Shrugged Trailer was pulled directly from the book is laughable. Perhaps she wishes that it was produced through Disney or Pixar using the cast of Madagascar.

  9. Kim Voynar says:

    Roundup of responses to all the charming Objectivists who’ve popped over to chat/offer decidedly unimaginative personal insults):

    A) I’ve read Atlas Shrugged in its entirety, three times. Fountainhead twice, but not until after I read We the Living, which I’ve read four times. Plus every single work of Rand’s non-fiction. Plus Peikoff’s OPAR, and more discourses and debates on the subsets among the various factions of Objectivists, the Peikoffians vs the Kelleyites, ad nauseum.

    B) I am not going to cull through 1,000 pages of AS and pull lines of dialogue here and there to contrast and compare how exceedingly close in tone to Rand’s dialogue the dialogue that’s in the trailer is. It may have been a few years since I read Rand, but the tenor of that dialogue is about as Randian as you can get. And I fully expect the movie to follow that with exactitude, because if YOU know anything about ARI, Peikoff et al, then you should you know they are anal as hell about that. These are people who quote Rand verbatim in their intellectual papers, their public debates, their private lives.

    Besides with, if you think AS is the be all, end all of rational thought and that Rand was brilliant and AS her most brilliant work, why on earth would you NOT want her brilliance revered by adapting her work as closely as possible? We’ll be lucky if they trim Galt’s speech down from the roughly three hours it takes to recite it out loud down to maybe 12-15 mins. But don’t hold your breath on that.

    C) A real Objectivist would know that resorting to attacking me personally rather than laying out your own logical arguments that actually refute anything other than nitpicking whether the dialogue is word-by-word translation is a laughably amateur effort. Try harder, eh? An Objectivist shouldn’t slack.

    D) Either the movie will suck, or it won’t. We’ll see in April. My impression of the trailer was not favorable. And frankly, I would MUCH rather see a good adaptation of AS than a shitty one, and I hope sincerely it doesn’t suck. Whether you agree with Objectivism or not, there’s no disputing Rand’s cultural influence and the impact AS has had on the lives of millions of people, and I hope now, as I always have, that if this is going to be done it would be done right.

    E) Fountainhead, the movie, I didn’t see until several years after I got into Objectivism and Objectivist circles and after I’d delved into most of the non-fiction. Also, that is a really bad movie.

    F) You obviously don’t read me often if you think I only write about LGBT issues or would ever suggest most films produced by any big studio or, in particular, using the cast of Madagascar, to be remotely desirable.

    G) Check your own bloody premises.

    H) Objectivists are tiresomely predictable in their ranting. Christ, guys, at least bring out some of your big gun Objectivist advocates if you’re going to attempt an assault.

    …. and lastly … seriously, Objectivist folks, lighten up, will you?

  10. RvB says:

    “She knew her Bond?” Does this mean that she knew enough to plagarize from Ian Fleming, or does this mean she appreciated the efforts of 007, a tax paid government civil servant, to bring down the kind of greedy and lawless figures Objectivists take as heroes?

  11. govwatch says:

    Response to Comment B, “And I fully expect the movie to follow that with exactitude, because if YOU know anything about ARI, Peikoff et al, then you should you know they are anal as hell about that.”

    Hmmm. Anyone who claims to know anything about ARI would know that Peikoff sold the movie rights years ago. Neither he nor ARI have any control over any aspect of the film. The producers may follow Rand “with exactitude”, but it won’t be because of ARI.

    What was that about checking bloody premises? : )

  12. christian says:

    RvB, it means if you read her terrific book of essays on art, “The Romantic Manifesto” she devotes half-a-chapter to Fleming’s novels and the first two Bond films. She GETS them and tell me if you disagree with her opine of DR. NO:

    “Contrary to somebody’s strenuously spread assertions, there was nothing “tongue-in-cheek” about the first of these movies, Dr. No. It was a brilliant example of Romantic screen art—in production, direction, writing, photography and, most particularly, in the performance of Sean Connery. His first introduction on the screen was a gem of dramatic technique, elegance, wit and understatement: when, in response to a question about his name, we saw his first closeup and he answered quietly: “Bond. James Bond”—the audience, on the night I saw it, burst into applause.”

  13. jim emerson says:

    This is based on a book by L. Rand Hubbard?

  14. Kim Voynar says:

    govwatch says:Anyone who claims to know anything about ARI would know that Peikoff sold the movie rights years ago. Neither he nor ARI have any control over any aspect of the film. The producers may follow Rand “with exactitude”, but it won’t be because of ARI.

    Actually, govwatch, John Aglialoro acquired the rights some 17 years ago, they were about to expire if he didn’t start shooting by June of last year. Hardly the point.

    It’s true that very often when you sell adaptation rights, you give up the right to have any control whatsoever over the final product. Many authors won’t sell adaptation rights for that reason. There are, however, authors of certain clout who are able to sell adaptation rights while also retaining the right to exercise a certain degree of control over the finished output. J.K. Rowling is one. So is Stephenie Meyer.

    So, while I am not privy (and neither, I expect, are you) to the precise terms of the rights agreement Aglialoro hammered out with Peikoff, I do know from personal experience how controlling and exact and demanding of loyalty to Rand’s vision (or, to be more precise, what their particular view is of Rand’s vision) the ARI folks are, and I don’t imagine for a minute that Peikoff, who is Rand’s heir apparent, would have just signed over rights to Atlas Shruggged with no stipulations whatsoever as to having, at the very least, approval over the shooting script.

    I mean, seriously. Do you even know anything about ARI, Peikoff, et al? The bloody faction split within Objectivism over issues that most people would look at and say, “Huh? What the hell?” These people take everything — and I mean EVERYTHING — about Rand more seriously than you can even begin to imagine if you haven’t ever engaged in that circle. And you honestly think Peikoff would just blithely sign off rights to Rand’s most seminal and beloved work — the novel that she wrote specifically to encapsulate her entire bloody philosophy — to some producer to just do what he wanted with, with no approval rights? You are delusional.

    If you do actually know anything about Objectivism as it is largely practiced and proselytized by Rand’s followers today — Peikoff in particular — I can’t imagine you would come here and say something so banal.

  15. RvB says:

    Thanks for the tip on Rand’s liking Bond, very useful for some work I’m doing. Surprised she likes Bond…her writings seem to indicate she’d consider Auric Goldfinger more of her ideal man.

  16. Bob Lipton says:

    I was encouraged more by the interview of director Paul Johansson at than I was by the trailer. By “encouraged” I mean, convinced that the film(s) will do justice to the book. Aside from that (A) I agree with the tenor of what Kim has said, (B) I’m slightly disappointed with the (mild) hostility shown in the comments, and (C) pleased that the comments are relevant to the coming movie and did not degenerate into the long-winded showoffy bloviations seen in the comments at the movie’s official website.

  17. Proman says:

    Fuck Ayn Rand and her shitty crap.

  18. Corey Quillen says:

    Speaking of Any Rand and her non-fiction, the author/friend she chose to explain how money works and how the Federal Reserve caused the Great Depression in her book “The Unknown Ideal” was the perfect choice. Before Alan Greenspan was corrupted by the power and pressure of Washington DC, he penned “Gold and Economic Freedom”.

    I would pay to see Ms. Voyner try to articulate Greenspan’s explanation in that essaay, whether she agrees or not. My guess is that she got wrapped up in the love stories among other things while reading Ayn Rand’s fiction and totally missed the point. And the technical stuff in Rand’s non-fiction went right over her head.

    Meanwhile, we are ALL likely to pay the price of people not understanding the reality of money. Here’s the best 6 minute explanation that supports this theory that I’ve seen. Maybe people could watch this during a commercial break of American Idol.

  19. Rachel Garrett says:

    I thought this trailer was awful. But none (or negligibly few) of the lines were directly from the book.

    It’s very poor reasoning to use your view of ARI and Leonard Peikoff as “controlling” to infer that they *must* have had some kind of control over the dialogue. (Yaron Brook, the Director of ARI, has stated that they didn’t.)

    Bottom line… have some truth in labeling. If you want to write about how bad you think Ayn Rand’s writing is, use her own writing to back it up. Fair is fair.

  20. Jeff says:

    lol she makes liberals elites so mad

  21. christian says:

    Rand was brilliant in her own way, but stupid as a log with statements that smoking did not cause cancer or “we will build smokestacks to the moon.” Her notions of clear, concise thought and heroism are just fine by me though.

  22. Todd says:

    I read somewhere that Rand wrote the movie script for Atlas Shrugged. She must have made it known in her will that no adaption of her novel into a motion picture should be made possible unless made out of her own script, ditto.

  23. Rachel Garrett says:

    Todd, Ayn Rand announced in her final public lecture before her death that she was writing a script for a miniseries of Atlas Shrugged. She didn’t complete it.

  24. Farabute799 says:

    Everyone who is making a big deal about matching-dialogue should do some research on the various aesthetic mediums and their relationship to each other.
    A movie shouldn’t be a patchwork of the novel, nor a transcription. As a different medium, everything has to be adapted to a feature film. This may or may not require altered dialogue, settings or characters from the novel (you can find out more through ARI lectures).
    When a writer once presented a screenplay of Atlas Shrugged to Ayn Rand, she criticized it because it was trying to be too much like the novel.
    Setting aesthetic theory aside, those who haven’t caught up with Objectivism are running out of time. Those who’ve fallen off the bandwagon, their time is up! lol

  25. Kim Voynar says:

    Farabute, you speak as a true adherent of Objectivism … and part of reason I “fell off the bandwagon” of Objectivism and shifted completely to a very nearly Socialist worldview is that hardcore Objectivism is just as fundamentalist and close-minded at its core as the most fundamentalist of religions.

    Any religion or philosophy that’s so insistent on their view being the ONLY correct view, with such arrogant refusal to consider the validity other points of view — and the rights of others to disagree — can only remain insular and self-feeding.

    “running out of time?” and “their time is up!” … sigh. Objectivists tend to make their detractors points for them, usually without realizing it. And certainly without ever acknowledging it.

  26. Sally E. says:

    You’re right. You are an Evil Socialist Liberal.People have the right to own what they produce.

Quote Unquotesee all »

It shows how out of it I was in trying to be in it, acknowledging that I was out of it to myself, and then thinking, “Okay, how do I stop being out of it? Well, I get some legitimate illogical narrative ideas” — some novel, you know?

So I decided on three writers that I might be able to option their material and get some producer, or myself as producer, and then get some writer to do a screenplay on it, and maybe make a movie.

And so the three projects were “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep,” “Naked Lunch” and a collection of Bukowski. Which, in 1975, forget it — I mean, that was nuts. Hollywood would not touch any of that, but I was looking for something commercial, and I thought that all of these things were coming.

There would be no Blade Runner if there was no Ray Bradbury. I couldn’t find Philip K. Dick. His agent didn’t even know where he was. And so I gave up.

I was walking down the street and I ran into Bradbury — he directed a play that I was going to do as an actor, so we know each other, but he yelled “hi” — and I’d forgot who he was.

So at my girlfriend Barbara Hershey’s urging — I was with her at that moment — she said, “Talk to him! That guy really wants to talk to you,” and I said “No, fuck him,” and keep walking.

But then I did, and then I realized who it was, and I thought, “Wait, he’s in that realm, maybe he knows Philip K. Dick.” I said, “You know a guy named—” “Yeah, sure — you want his phone number?”

My friend paid my rent for a year while I wrote, because it turned out we couldn’t get a writer. My friends kept on me about, well, if you can’t get a writer, then you write.”
~ Hampton Fancher

“That was the most disappointing thing to me in how this thing was played. Is that I’m on the phone with you now, after all that’s been said, and the fundamental distinction between what James is dealing with in these other cases is not actually brought to the fore. The fundamental difference is that James Franco didn’t seek to use his position to have sex with anyone. There’s not a case of that. He wasn’t using his position or status to try to solicit a sexual favor from anyone. If he had — if that were what the accusation involved — the show would not have gone on. We would have folded up shop and we would have not completed the show. Because then it would have been the same as Harvey Weinstein, or Les Moonves, or any of these cases that are fundamental to this new paradigm. Did you not notice that? Why did you not notice that? Is that not something notable to say, journalistically? Because nobody could find the voice to say it. I’m not just being rhetorical. Why is it that you and the other critics, none of you could find the voice to say, “You know, it’s not this, it’s that”? Because — let me go on and speak further to this. If you go back to the L.A. Times piece, that’s what it lacked. That’s what they were not able to deliver. The one example in the five that involved an issue of a sexual act was between James and a woman he was dating, who he was not working with. There was no professional dynamic in any capacity.

~ David Simon