Atlas Shrugged Part III Is Secretly Contrary to Ayn Rand’s Teachings

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.


10 responses to “Atlas Shrugged Part III Is Secretly Contrary to Ayn Rand’s Teachings

  1. “Kevin Y”…your response was excellent. I guess the left will never understand. Some people keep their business running for all sorts of reasons when it is not profitable. It is not for others to say “you aren’t a good capitalist because you are not making money.” Now that a complete trilogy has been made of the book perhaps someday, not soon, there will be a GOOD version of what must be one of the most difficult books to turn into a movie. Most really good movies are “high concept” movies. They can be described in one short sentence. Atlas Shrugged is the opposite of “high concept”.

    • I also hope that a good version of this book will be made eventually. I can’t say that I loved Atlas Shrugged, but I would like to see the book effectively transition to the big screen. In order to do that though, they need to hire a more competent crew and give it a little bigger budget. The past two movies were filmed so poorly, it was pretty much an embarrassment.

      Atlas Shrugged is an incredibly difficult book to film, and I wonder sometimes if it would just have been better off left alone as a novel, since most of its lessons come from the long character speeches, which kill the momentum of the book and would really be hard to watch in a film form. I think sometimes we are too eager to film adaptations of books, that we forget that some books probably shouldn’t be filmed. Atlas Shrugged may be one of those, I’m not sure.

      That being said, I think that the people who love Atlas Shrugged will see any movie based off of the book. Ayn Rand has a pretty rabid fanbase!

      • I should be clear… I agree with you and others on the production value of the movie version. But, rabid fans? Have you seen a Michael Moore movie? At least Ayn Rand rabies is less contagious. 🙂 We don’t get equal treatment when it comes to opening day screen count!

        • Well you have to admit. Michael Moore movies are a little more entertaining and easy to watch! The Ayn Rand fans are a smaller group, but people who love Atlas Shrugged absolutely love it. Everybody I know who loves the book holds it up like the Bible of Economics and Freedom (a bit of a hyperbole, but you get my point.)

    • How would you like to be one of the people whose job is to sell the Movie to Hollywood?

      “Ok, so here’s what we want to do… We want to make a movie that goes against everything you people beleive in. But we need even more money so we can make it really really good. Whaddya say?”

      Kudos to the folks who actually had to do that!


      • Yeah no kidding. I like a lot of art-house films, and sometimes I can’t imagine what it would be like to pitch those films to Hollywood execs. That’s why they have to release independently. Why do you think the Atlas Shrugged people are independently releasing it? That’s the only way that unusual films like that can get released, through independent means.

  2. Mr. Brazier.

    You write very well and make your points clearly. Had I not read the book myself (twice in my life), I might actually agree with you. But I think you’ve missed a point. Ayn Rand’s perspective is not pro-capitalism per se, it is pro-individualism. The smallest minority on the planet — the individual — is where the true power exists. That is to say, the power is in each of us whether we identify as capitalist, socialist, or other. Hank Reardon’s intellectual property is his value, not his company. The company is meerly the vehicle through which he is able to reap the rewards of his ideas. (or to fail, as he chooses) Ayn Rand makes that perfectly clear. Francisco used his individualism to beat the greedy at their own game. You call him a greedy capitalist, but it was other greedy people (the non-capitalists in fact) that attempted to take advantage of his success as their own. There are many more examples.

    My take on Ayn Rand (as a free market guy) is much different than yours, although on the topic of “corporate greed”, I agree. If we actually had a free market, then the greedy could be flushed out. But we don’t have a free market (government over-regulation prevents it).

    Now to your main point, which is that repeatedly releasing failed movies about Ayn Rand’s book contradicts Ayn Rand’s teaching: I must ask you this. If you get no more responses to your article besides mine and the person that called out your spelling error, will you stop writing? If your answer is Yes, I applaud your consistency and expect to never see your name on a byline again. But if you answer No, does that not suggest that you also fail to listen to the market? I presume you see the Atlas Shrugged Movie perspective differently, because as a non-capitalist, your motive is not greedy (unlike the greedy movie producers, right?). But I submit that both situations are the same. Individuals are involved in both — regardless of the criticisms or box-office revenue involved — and the choice to continue trying to improve (or continue to fail) is the choice of the respective individuals.

    Ayn Rand does not promote capitalism for capitalism’s sake. She promotes individualism and uses a capitalist backdrop to demonstrate it. The world lost access to Ellis Wyatt’s intellect and business sense when he left for Galt’s Gulch, but it did not lose access to oil fields. Ellis Wyatt is an individual with ability to benefit society, perhaps as Ayn Rand suggests, better than other would-be oil producers. In Atlas Shrugged, the world gets to see the truth in the assertion.

    I truly hope you answer No to my earlier question. I would like to see your byline again because even though your opinion disagrees with my own, you have the courage to discuss your opinions openly. That’s a “free” market.

    I feel the same about the producers of the Atlas Shrugged trilogy. And I look forward to seeing this final installment. The box-office revenue it earns means nothing to me, although It should mean much more to the producers. I understand the difference, but the decision to make another movie is not my own. Frankly I appreciate that somebody finally had the courage to produce it and that they failed to give up.

    That’s the real meaning I get from Atlas Shrugged.



    • Thanks for your comment! Your points are great, and I’m glad that you posted an opposite perspective to my thoughts so that people who read this can see all the sides. Thanks for reading, I hope that you find other things that you like around here!

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