Atlas Shrugged Part III comes out this week, as Facebook keeps reminding me for some reason. For those of you unfamiliar with this movie, it is the last film in a trilogy of film adaptations of Ayn Rand’s gigantic novel Atlas Shrugged. The novel tells the story of a group of industrialists and thinkers who fight against the forces of socialism, laziness, and charity with the powers of capitalism, crazy work ethic, and greed. It’s a heart warming tell of triumph, tragedy, and absurdly long speeches outlining Ayn Rand’s philosophy. Atlas Shrugged is less of a novel and more of a really long philosophical manifesto delivered by characters. I read it.
Like many pieces of literature, Atlas Shrugged is now a movie trilogy. The first film was critically panned and was not a financial success. So the producers decided to make a part two. That movie was also unsuccessful. Now they are making a third movie.
All this love of Atlas Shrugged got me thinking. Doesn’t the existence of these movies actually run contrary to Ayn Rand’s teachings? Hear me out.
Rand advocated a strictly laissez-faire brand of capitalism (some would argue anarcho-capitalism). Dollar is king, and if a person or product is not producing personal wealth then the business that employs the person of manufactures the product should not continue on with it. In the book, the bad guys force products onto society that they generally do not want (I remember a lengthy discussion about how a clock tower on a building was an example of this).
Using this criteria, should not the producers have stopped after the first movie was a critical and financial bomb? Obviously the free market economy rejected the movie. Ok, but a lot of series have a bad first installment. The producers decided to make a part two of the Atlas Shrugged trilogy. This movie was a financial and critical bomb.
At this point I would think that these disciples of Ayn Rand would follow the trend of the market and invest in a new product. That is what Hank Rearden or Francisco d’Anconia or Dagny Taggart would do. But instead the producers are continuing on with this series, mainly for love of the novel and love of the craft. But in Ayn Rand’s world I would imagine that one does not pursue an unfruitful enterprise just for artistic purposes.
Now Glenn Beck would say that the critical and financial failure of this film is because of the “sheeple” that only want to see liberal Hollywood’s movies. But that is not true. There are many films released by Hollywood that embody conservative values that were critical and financial hits (Rotten Tomatoes score is to the right of the description):
- 1984– The big screen adaptation of this classic anti-communist text. (79%)
- The Hurt Locker- A positive portrayal of American servicemen in Iraq as they put their lives on the line for freedom. (97%)
- The Patriot- A film about the American revolution that makes many references to God. (62%)
- Lego Movie- Shows the dangers of an over controlled, brainwashed society and extols the virtues of self achievement. (95%)
- Incredibles- A traditional nuclear family fights evil after being fired by the government who feared public outrage against superheros . (97%)
- The Dark Knight Rises– Makes Occupy Wall Street people look like terrorists. (88%)
- Air Force One- An American president doesn’t give in to terrorists. (79%)
And those are just a few.
Obviously the mouth breathing “sheeple” of America do not mind seeing conservative films. Critics did not pan any of these movies, even though they all had strong conservative messages. So we only have one option. These Atlas Shrugged movies are not good movies.
So we have situation were a company is producing sub par entertainment that the consumers do not want. Instead of going with the Ayn Rand capitalist route and making different movies extolling the same virtues, the makers are still producing these movies and forcing them on to the public. It sounds more like propaganda and less like a love letter to capitalism.
But is Ayn Rand rolling her grave? I have no clue.