COMMENTARY | American businessman John Aglialoro boldly bypassed a left-leaning Hollywood hoping to reach a conservative audience by going independent with the distribution of the film adaptation of Ayn Rand’s 1957 novel “Atlas Shrugged.” Many critics loath the low-budget movie, “Atlas Shrugged: Part 1.” There are no apologizes forthcoming, though, for the film’s lack of Hollywood hype bells and whistles.
Executive producer Harmon Kaslow downplays the production value of the $10 million film. The film instead relies on the literary significance of Rand’s controversial book. Its message is about free-market capitalism. It also relates to economic collapse and the amplifying role of government.
Rand, a Russian immigrant, died in 1982. She was an atheist and a feminist. Politically, some say she was a liberal. Others argue she was a conservative. Rand is widely remembered as an individualist. Is the film adaptation of Rand’s political view of a free-market society something conservatives can relate to today?
Are Critics Aboard?
Did the weekend film release meet with any accolades by critics? So far, it has been difficult to stumble across a film critic who was excited by or even slightly admired the movie. Some critics thoroughly whip the film into subjective submission. Many critics despise the film.
It is fair to say that critics agree the book is a must-read to be able to understand the movie. Either way, the movie is selling plenty of tickets.
In a recent review, Todd McCarthy of the The Hollywood Reporter wrote: “Flubbed, under-produced representation of the first third of Ayn Rand’s still controversial novel bodes ill for parts two and three.”
Even more critics, like McCarthy, rip the film by pointing out the obvious woes of a low budget project, such as little-known actors. P.J. O’Rourke of the WSJ said, “The rest of the movie’s acting is borrowed from ‘Dallas,’ although the absence of Larry Hagman’s skill at subtly underplaying villainous roles is to be regretted.”
O’Rourke mocks the movie with honest and humorous sarcasm. He also refers to Ayn Rand as a woman of force and a force for good. Apparently, O’Rourke favors the hypothesis of Rand’s novel, but he cannot put his stamp of approval on the film adaptation.
Other critics opted to look past the humble budget. They focused on what they view as the importance of the message in “Atlas Shrugged: Part 1.” Those critics are willing to cut some slack and give the film the opportunity to develop in part two.
New York Post’s Kyle Smith, while pointing out the imperfections of the low budget film, managed an open-minded review. Smith went out on a limb: He declared the principle of the film as not being “…loony-bin stuff.”
Remember “American Carol?”
The 2008 film “American Carol” was a successful right-leaning production. It is a comedy about an anti-American Hollywood filmmaker who was determined to put an end to the 4th of July celebration. A gang of ethereal spirits from America’s past dropped in from the otherworld to educate the naysayer.
There was certainly a conservative audience interested in the movie. Plenty of people from various parties laid down their swords and shared a good chuckle over the absurdity of politics.
If Hollywood made more right-leaning movies, conservatives would come. Perhaps Hollywood’s entertainment industry is sidestepping what could be a strong and profitable conservative following.
“Atlas Shrugged: Part 1” seems to be garnering enough concern/interest to strike a chord with supporters and maybe the curious as well. That, or there are many people out there are willing to spend their hard-earned money to see a movie that does not align with their political beliefs.
“Atlas Shrugged: Part 1” website
Erik Hayden, “The ‘Atlas Shrugged’ Movie Meets Box Office Reality,” The Atlantic Wire
Kyle Smith, “Rand Old Time for Ayn Adherents,” New York Post
Anthony Kaufman, “Will Conservatives Make ‘Atlas Shrugged’ a Hit?” The Wall Street Journal
“American Carol” Yahoo! Movies
John Tammy, “A Name to Know in 2011: Atlas Shrugged Producer John Aglialoro,” Forbes
Ayn Rand Institute