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Thursday, April 27, 2006

Atlas Mugs

Is Atlas finally about to mug for the big screen? Variety's Pam McClintock is reporting that distributor Lionsgate has picked up the worldwide rights to Atlas Shrugs, Ayn Rand's 7,000 page doorstop in which she once again laid out her philosophy of Objectivism for those of us who read We the Living, Anthem and/or The Fountainhead, and somehow still thought she was an altruistic Commie.

(I don't mean to rag on Rand: I think The Fountainhead is one of the best - and most important - works of the 20th century. But, and I know this is probably considered heresy in some quarters, I found Atlas to be overwrought, overlong and overdone. It actually turned me into a man overbored in the middle of John Galt's "I can go longer than Fidel" speech.)

According to McClintock - and to be filed under M for "You cannot be serious,"
Angelina Jolie, a longtime devotee of Rand's, and Brad Pitt, also a fan, are rumored to be circling the leading roles of Dagny Taggart and John Galt.
Okay, at this point I realized I should've gone straight to the source to begin with, and whaddaya know, the source, she comes through. (Personal aside: I think I may have had a dream that involved Pamela and that Supergirl costume she's photoshopped into at the top left of her blog. I don't remember the details, but I'm pretty sure - Lord, I hope - I wasn't the one wearing it.)

Anyway, Pamela pointed me to Robert Bindinotto's blog, where I learned that I would've known that Brad and Angie were big fans of Rand (Fands?) if I had only read the Hollywood issue of The New Individualist, which I unaccountably missed. The Shrugstress also sent me to one of the more inane articles I've ever read, in which the writer (who, luckily for any future aspirations he or she has, did not sign his or her "work") lets us know that Rand is mostly read by frat boys.

First of all, I find that offensive to Rand's readers. And second of all, it's fraternity, not frat. Would you call your country a - well, you get the idea.

Anyway, the author of this piece is clearly either a college freshman or an Ivy League political science professor. The dead giveaway? This line:
The weighty tome focuses on railroad executive Dagny Taggart, who feels crushed by society's evil shift toward collectivism or something silly like that.

To which Pamela rationally retorts:

Yeah "something silly" that results in the death of 100 million outside of war. By why quibble with "silly" details.
I think I'm in love.

But back to the movies. Atlas has been floating around Hollywood for decades (somehow managing to never philosphically penetrate the hive minds at the studios), so it remains to be seen what, if anything, comes out of this deal. (The Variety article gives a good history.) I dealt with McClintock back when I was Hollywood Boy, and always found her to be a reliable reporter. But the fact of the matter is that deals like this are announced all the time, sometimes with a full brass band providing the fanfare, and often absolutely nothing comes of them. As an example, McClintock, in detailing the history of Rand's books in Hollywood, notes that

Oliver Stone was attached to direct a remake of "Fountainhead" for Warner Bros. and Paramount, but the project has languished in development. Along the way, Pitt expressed interest in playing Roark.
You can bet there was a lot of hype about that, too.

The real question is: Is it true that all John Galt really wanted to do was direct?

Blogger James R Ament said...

I have, perhaps incorrectly, assumed that Hollywood didn't have the guts to make any new movies depicting Randian philosophy. If they do, it will be interesting to see if it's done in a positive light. While it's a departure from Rand, I've also wondered why they never did "The Monkey Wrench Gang" by Edward Abbey.

Blogger The Cranky Insomniac said...

The Monkey Wrench Gang is actually scheduled for 2007. So look for it in 2009.


Blogger James R Ament said...

Wow! Thanks. I hope they don't turn it into a modernized rant about global warming. One (theoretically) could make a very interesting film about the characters in Abbey's novel (hard core environmental activists of the 60's and 70's) vs. the damn builders and developers... leaving the moral conclusions to the audience. Oh well, I can dream; somehow, I don't think that's what we'll get.


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