Atlas Shrugged Part 1 Movie Review

We were anticipating meeting a number of local libertarian folks we’d only been acquainted with via facebook as we ate burgers at Snuffer’s in the Southlake Town Center. the meetup was set to encourage communication and attendance at the opening night of “Atlas Shrugged, Part 1″ in the Harkins Theater across the street.

Robin and I peered around the patio area, hoping to spot someone wearing a “Who is John Galt” tee shirt or one with a picture of Lysander Spooner on it. Alas, we were likely too early as the meetup was supposed to start at 7 PM and I had rushed us out the door to dinner precisely at 6 to ensure we got groceries down our necks and out of the way in plenty of time to score good front-and-center seats in the theater.

By the time we paid our check at 7:05 I was too eager to get ahead of the crowd to hang at Snuffer’s any longer and reckoned my unknown libertarian friends could survive without a face to face meeting until the next opportunity.

Robin complained teasingly about me rushing her out of the restaurant and over to the kiosk to retrieve the tickets I’d bought online the day they’d gone on sale. I hadn’t been this excited about a movie premiere since “Fellowship of the Ring”. Indeed, a chant was forming in my head, “One bracelet to rule them all, and in the darkness bind them…” (if you know nothing of Rearden Metal, you won’t get that bit of Libertarian-Tokienian punnery, just keep bowing before your reprint portrait of Jimmy Carter and pay no attention here).

As I shifted from foot to foot in the line outside theater nine and posted my location and activity on facebook, Robin sat patiently on a bench a few feet away and entered her commentary, “I’m married to such a nerd!”

When the cleaning crew finally exited and bid the crowd of tea-partiers, libertarians, and mega rich individual business owners and inverters enter, the polite crowd quietly filtered in to the auditorium with the giant 50 foot curved screen shining at the front.

The wait outside had been quite different from any I’ve ever experienced in line at a theater. Total strangers struck up conversations with each other about politics, government irresponsibility, and of course, Ayn Rand and the novel that is on it’s way to even greater popularity in the last couple of years during Obama’s crazed rule of robin hood government.

The nature of those conversations was one of people in violent agreement, friendly and outspoken, with obvious good will and comfort. Everyone of the individuals in that crowd seemed to be glowing with the confidence of people who were convinced that they were in charge of their destinies. It was a vastly different group from the eclectic mixture you see at any other entertainment venue.

I stood there, wondering as I often did, what would these people think if they knew I had a .45 caliber 1911 legally strapped in a concealment holster on my side? And the answer came to mind immediately…heck, half the men and a few of the women in this crowd are probably packing heat the same as I. They obviously cherish liberty and intend to maintain it, other people and governments be damned.

It made me smile.

So we filed in, and the lady and her husband we sat next to exchanged pleasantries with us. Those of us who had read the book asked eah other “who is John Galt?” until Robin finally was exasperated enough to tell me she didn’t give a fig who John Galt was.

She hadn’t read the book.

After 45 minutes or so of typical movie trivia games and on-screen pleas for me to advertise my business on the theater screen because 136 million people go to the movies every year, the screen finally filled with the logo of a Greek demigod carrying the weight of the world upon his shoulders.

The excited crowd that filled almost every seat in that large theater burst out in spontaneousness applause.

The opening scenes were dark, foreboding, and momentarily disconcerting. I pessimistically wondered if this was going to be the template for the entire movie, as I have often read that low light shooting is a producer’s trick to keep budgets in line and “cheap-out” on more expensive cinematography. But the picture soon brightened, and the story evolved with appropriate lighting for every scene and intended mood.

The musical score was well written, and did what movie scores should do; depressing and elevating the experience in harmony with the dialog and activity presented to the ear and eye without upstaging the story and characters.

I felt a connection with the average loveliness of the female lead, and it seemed so believable that a woman could be exactly that way and deal with the intricacies of running a billion dollar business with just that sort of attitude. I developed sympathy for the unappreciated wealthy hero, owner of Rearden Metals, who withstood the insulting flattery and disingenuous appreciation of his parasitic family and friends.

The villains were gregarious enough to make you see why the average joe could be taken in by them, and just poisonous enough that you logically anticipated them ruining everything for the heroine and hero. There was one character who remained a mystery as to whether he was scoundrel or misunderstood saint right to the very end of part I (shal we go so far as to say the beginning of part II?).

And they didn’t wear out the phrase, “Who is John Galt?” as we libertarians in the real world outside that projected image had done while awaiting the opening. It was peppered in the dialog at just the right places, just the exact amount of spice to make those who hadn’t read the book wonder and anticipate when they might find out and those who had read it smile and nod to themselves and each other in their shared secret knowledge.

Why were the movers and shakers of 2016 America disappearing? To what cult or alien place were they being spirited away? What could possibly be said to them that was making them accept this strange relocation?

Having read the book, I know, but I still want to know.

Having watched the movie, I still need to know.

I rate Atlas Shrugged two thumbs up. So did Robin, and she’s only frustrated now that she has to await Part II or read a 1,000 page book to discover…

…wait for it…

“Who is John Galt?”