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Atlas Shrugged Movie (Official Site)

Atlas Shrugged: Part I (2011) – IMDb

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It was great to be alive, once, but the world was perishing. Factories were shutting down, transportation was grinding to a halt, granaries were empty–and key people who had once kept it running were disappearing all over the country. As the lights winked out and the cities went cold, nothing was left to anyone but misery. No one knew how to stop it, no one understood why it was happening – except one woman, the operating executive of a once mighty transcontinental railroad, who suspects the answer may rest with a remarkable invention and the man who created it – a man who once said he would stop the motor of the world. Everything now depends on finding him and discovering the answer to the question on the lips of everyone as they whisper it in fear: Who *is* John Galt? Written byRobb

Taglines:Who is John Galt?

Budget:$20,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA: $1,686,347,17 April 2011, Limited Release

Gross USA: $4,752,353

Runtime: 97 min

Aspect Ratio: 2.35 : 1

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Atlas Shrugged: Part I (2011) – IMDb

Atlas Shrugged: Part I – Wikipedia

Atlas Shrugged: Part I (referred to onscreen as simply Atlas Shrugged) is a 2011 American political science fiction drama film directed by Paul Johansson. An adaptation of part of Ayn Rand’s controversial 1957 novel of the same name, the film is the first in a trilogy encompassing the entire book. After various treatments and proposals floundered for nearly 40 years,[4] investor John Aglialoro initiated production in June 2010. The film was directed by Paul Johansson and stars Taylor Schilling as Dagny Taggart and Grant Bowler as Hank Rearden.

The film begins the story of Atlas Shrugged, set in a dystopian United States where John Galt leads innovators, from industrialists to artists, in a capital strike, “stopping the motor of the world” to reassert the importance of the free use of one’s mind and of laissez-faire capitalism.[5]

Despite near universally negative critical response and commercial failure, grossing just under a fourth of its budget, a sequel, Atlas Shrugged: Part II, was released on October 12, 2012, albeit with an entirely different cast. The third installment, Atlas Shrugged Part III: Who Is John Galt?, was released on September 12, 2014,[6] again with an overhaul on production.

In 2016, the United States is in a sustained economic depression. Industrial disasters, resource shortages, and gasoline prices at $37 per gallon have made railroads the primary mode of transportation, but even they are in disrepair. After a major accident on the Rio Norte line of the Taggart Transcontinental railroad, CEO James Taggart shirks responsibility. His sister Dagny Taggart, Vice-President in Charge of Operations, defies him by replacing the aging track with new rails made of Rearden Metal, which is claimed to be lighter yet stronger than steel. Dagny meets with its inventor, Hank Rearden, and they negotiate a deal they both admit serves their respective self-interests.

Politician Wesley Mouchnominally Rearden’s lobbyist in Washington, D.C.is part of a crowd that views heads of industry as persons who must be broken or tamed. James Taggart uses political influence to ensure that Taggart Transcontinental is designated the exclusive railroad for the state of Colorado. Dagny is confronted by Ellis Wyatt, a Colorado oil man angry to be forced to do business with Taggart Transcontinental. Dagny promises him that he will get the service he needs. Dagny encounters former lover Francisco d’Anconia, who presents a faade of a playboy grown bored with the pursuit of money. He reveals that a series of copper mines he built are worthless, costing his investors (including the Taggart railroad) millions.

Rearden lives in a magnificent home with a wife and a brother who are happy to live off his effort, though they overtly disrespect it. Rearden’s anniversary gift to his wife Lillian is a bracelet made from the first batch of Rearden Metal, but she considers it a garish symbol of Hank’s egotism. At a dinner party, Dagny dares Lillian to exchange it for Dagny’s diamond necklace, which she does.

As Dagny and Rearden rebuild the Rio Norte line, talented people quit their jobs and refuse all inducements to stay. Meanwhile, Dr. Robert Stadler of the State Science Institute puts out a report implying that Rearden Metal is dangerous. Taggart Transcontinental stock plummets because of its use of Rearden Metal, and Dagny leaves Taggart Transcontinental temporarily and forms her own company to finish the Rio Norte line. She renames it the John Galt Line, in defiance of the phrase “Who is John Galt?”which has come to stand for any question to which it is pointless to seek an answer.

A new law forces Rearden to sell most of his businesses, but he retains Rearden Steel for the sake of his metal and to finish the John Galt Line. Despite strong government and union opposition to Rearden Metal, Dagny and Rearden complete the line ahead of schedule and successfully test it on a record-setting run to Wyatt’s oil fields in Colorado. At the home of Wyatt, now a close friend, Dagny and Rearden celebrate the success of the line. As Dagny and Rearden continue their celebration into the night by fulfilling their growing sexual attraction, the shadowy figure responsible for the disappearances of prominent people visits Wyatt with an offer for a better society based on personal achievement.

The next morning, Dagny and Rearden begin investigating an abandoned prototype of an advanced motor that could revolutionize the world. They realize the genius of the motor’s creator and try to track him down. Dagny finds Dr. Hugh Akston, working as a cook at a diner, but he is not willing to reveal the identity of the inventor; Akston knows whom Dagny is seeking and says she will never find him, though he may find her.

Another new law limits rail freight and levies a special tax on Colorado. It is the final straw for Ellis Wyatt. When Dagny hears that Wyatt’s oil fields are on fire, she rushes to the scene of the fire where she finds a handwritten sign nailed to the wall that reads “I am leaving it as I found it. Take over. It’s yours.”

Wyatt declares in an answering machine message that he is “on strike”.

In 1972, Albert S. Ruddy approached Rand to produce a cinematic adaptation of Atlas Shrugged. Rand agreed that Ruddy could focus on the love story. “That’s all it ever was,” Rand said.[9][10][11] Rand insisted on having final script approval, which Ruddy refused to give her, thus preventing a deal. In 1978, Henry and Michael Jaffe negotiated a deal for an eight-hour Atlas Shrugged television miniseries on NBC. Jaffe hired screenwriter Stirling Silliphant to adapt the novel and he obtained approval from Rand on the final script. However, in 1979, with Fred Silverman’s rise as president of NBC, the project was scrapped.[12]

Rand, a former Hollywood screenwriter herself, began writing her own screenplay, but died in 1982 with only one third of it finished. She left her estate, including the film rights to Atlas Shrugged, to her student Leonard Peikoff, who sold an option to Michael Jaffe and Ed Snider. Peikoff would not approve the script they wrote and the deal fell through. In 1992, investor John Aglialoro bought an option to produce the film, paying Peikoff over $1 million for full creative control.[12]

In 1999, under Aglialoro’s sponsorship, Ruddy negotiated a deal with Turner Network Television for a four-hour miniseries, but the project was killed after the AOL Time Warner merger. After the TNT deal fell through, Howard and Karen Baldwin, while running Phillip Anschutz’s Crusader Entertainment, obtained the rights. The Baldwins left Crusader, taking the rights to Atlas Shrugged with them, and formed Baldwin Entertainment Group in 2004. Michael Burns of Lions Gate Entertainment approached the Baldwins to fund and distribute Atlas Shrugged.[12] A two-part draft screenplay written by James V. Hart[13] was re-written into a 127page screenplay by Randall Wallace, with Vadim Perelman expected to direct.[14] Potential cast members for this production had included Angelina Jolie,[15] Charlize Theron,[16] Julia Roberts,[16] and Anne Hathaway.[16] Between 2009 and 2010, however, these deals came apart, including studio backing from Lions Gate, and therefore none of the stars mentioned above appear in the final film. Also, Wallace did not do the screenplay, and Perelman did not direct.[1][17] Aglialoro says producers have spent “something in the $20 million range” on the project over the last 18 years.[2]

In May 2010, Brian Patrick O’Toole and Aglialoro wrote a screenplay, intent on filming in June 2010. While initial rumors claimed that the films would have a “timeless” settingthe producers say Rand envisioned the story as occurring “the day after tomorrow”[18]the released film is set in late 2016. The writers were mindful of the desire of some fans for fidelity to the novel,[18] but gave some characters, such as Eddie Willers, short shrift and omitted others, such as the composer Richard Halley. The film is styled as a mystery, with black-and-white freeze frames as each innovator goes “missing”. However, Galt appears and speaks in the film, solving the mystery more clearly than in the first third of the novel.

Though director Johansson had been reported as playing the pivotal role of John Galt, he made it clear in an interview that with regard to who is John Galt in the film, the answer was, “Not me.”[7] He explained that his portrayal of the character would be limited to the first film as a silhouetted figure wearing a trenchcoat and fedora,[8] suggesting that another actor will be cast as Galt for the subsequent parts of the trilogy.

Though Stephen Polk was initially set to direct,[19] he was replaced by Paul Johansson nine days before filming was scheduled to begin. With the 18-year-long option to the films rights set to expire on June 15, 2010, producers Harmon Kaslow and Aglialoro began principal photography on June 13, 2010, thus allowing Aglialoro to retain the motion picture rights. Shooting took five weeks, and he says that the total production cost of the movie came in on a budget around US$10 million,[20] though Box Office Mojo lists the production cost as $20 million.[3]

Elia Cmiral composed the score for the film.[21] Peter Debruge wrote in Variety that “More ambitious sound design and score, rather than the low-key filler from composer Elia Cmiral and music supervisor Steve Weisberg, might have significantly boosted the pic’s limited scale.”[22]

Matt Kibbe, President of FreedomWorks[23]

The film had a very low marketing budget and was not marketed in conventional methods.[24] Prior to the film’s release on the politically symbolic date of Tax Day, the project was promoted throughout the Tea Party movement and affiliated organizations such as FreedomWorks.[23] The National Journal reported that FreedomWorks, the Tea Party-allied group headed by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, (R-Texas), had been trying to get the movie opened in more theaters.[23] FreedomWorks also helped unveil the Atlas Shrugged movie trailer at the February 2011 Conservative Political Action Conference.[23] Additionally, it was reported that Tea Party groups across the country were plugging the movie trailer on their websites and Facebook pages.[23] Release of the movie was also covered and promoted by Fox News TV personalities John Stossel and Sean Hannity.[25][26]

The U.S. release of Atlas Shrugged: Part I opened on 300 screens on April 15, 2011, and made US$1,676,917 in its opening weekend, finishing in 14th place overall.[27] Producers announced expansion to 423 theaters several days after release and promised 1,000 theaters by the end of April,[28] but the release peaked at 465 screens. Ticket sales dropped off significantly in its second week of release, despite the addition of 165 screens; after six weeks, the film was showing on only 32 screens and total ticket sales had not crossed the $5 million mark, recouping less than a quarter of the production budget.[29]

Atlas Shrugged: Part I was released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on November 8, 2011 by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.[30] More than 100,000 DVD inserts were recalled within days due to the jacket’s philosophically incorrect description of “Ayn Rand’s timeless novel of courage and self-sacrifice”.[31] As of April 2013, 247,044 DVDs had been sold, grossing $3,433,445.[32]

The film received overwhelmingly negative reviews. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 11% based on 47 reviews, with an average score of 3.6 out of 10. The site’s consensus was: “Passionate ideologues may find it compelling, but most filmgoers will find this low-budget adaptation of the Ayn Rand bestseller decidedly lacking.”[33] Metacritic gives the film a “generally unfavorable” rating of 28%, as determined by averaging 19 professional reviews.[34] Some commentators noted differences in film critics’ reactions from audience members’ reactions; from the latter group, the film received high scores even before the film was released.[35][36][37]

Let’s say you know the novel, you agree with Ayn Rand, you’re an objectivist or a libertarian, and you’ve been waiting eagerly for this movie. Man, are you going to get a letdown. It’s not enough that a movie agree with you, in however an incoherent and murky fashion. It would help if it were like, you know, entertaining?

Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times, April 14, 2011[1]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film only one star, calling it “the most anticlimactic non-event since Geraldo Rivera broke into Al Capone’s vault.”[1] Columnist Cathy Young of The Boston Globe gave the film a negative review.[38] Chicago Tribune published a predominantly negative review, arguing that the film lacks Rand’s philosophical theme, while at the same time saying “the actors, none of them big names, are well-suited to the roles. The story has drive, color and mystery. It looks good on the screen.”[39] In the New York Post, Kyle Smith gave the film a mostly negative review, grading it at 2.5/4 stars, criticizing its “stilted dialogue and stern, unironic hectoring” and calling it “stiff in the joints”, but also adding that it “nevertheless contains a fire and a fury that makes it more compelling than the average mass-produced studio item.”[40]

Reviews in the conservative press were more mixed. American economist Mark Skousen praised the film, writing in Human Events, “The script is true to the philosophy of Ayn Rand’s novel.”[41] The Weekly Standard senior editor Fred Barnes noted that the film “gets Rand’s point across forcefully without too much pounding”, that it is “fast-paced” when compared with the original novel’s 1200-page length, and that it is “at least as relevant today as it was when the novel was published in 1957.”[42] Jack Hunter, contributing editor to The American Conservative, wrote, “If you ask the average film critic about the new movie adaptation of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged they will tell you it is a horrible movie. If you ask the average conservative or libertarian they will tell you it is a great movie. Objectively, it is a mediocre movie at best. Subjectively, it is one of the best mediocre movies you’ll ever see.”[43] In the National Post, Peter Foster credited the movie for the daunting job of fidelity to the novel, wryly suggested a plot rewrite along the lines of comparable current events, and concluded, “if it sinks without trace, its backers should at least be proud that they lost their own money.”[44]

The poor critical reception of Atlas Shrugged: Part I initially made Aglialoro reconsider his plans for the rest of the trilogy.[45] In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, he said he was continuing with plans to produce Part II and Part III for release on April 15 in 2012 and 2013, respectively.[46] In a later interview with The Boston Globe, Aglialoro was ambivalent: “I learned something long ago playing poker. If you think you’re beat[en], don’t go all in. If Part 1 makes [enough of] a return to support Part 2, I’ll do it. Other than that, I’ll throw the hand in.”[47]

In July 2011, Aglialoro planned to start production of Atlas Shrugged: Part II in September, with its release timed to coincide with the 2012 U.S. elections.[48] In October 2011, producer Harmon Kaslow stated that he hoped filming for Part II would begin in early 2012, “with hopes of previewing it around the time of the nominating conventions”. Kaslow anticipated that the film, which would encompass the second third of Atlas Shrugged, would “probably be 30 to 40 minutes longer than the first movie.” Kaslow also stated his intent that Part II would have a bigger production budget, as well as a larger advertising budget.[49]

On February 2, 2012, Kaslow and Aglialoro, the producers of Atlas Shrugged: Part II, announced a start date for principal photography in April 2012 with a release date of October 12, 2012.[50] Joining the production team was Duncan Scott, who, in 1986, was responsible for creating a new, re-edited version with English subtitles of the 1942 Italian film adaptation of We the Living. The first film’s entire cast was replaced for the sequel.

The sequel film, Atlas Shrugged: Part II, was released on October 12, 2012.[51] Critics gave the film a 4% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 23 reviews.[52] One reviewer gave the film a “D” rating,[53] while another reviewer gave the film a “1” rating (of 4).[54] In naming Part II to its list of 2012’s worst films, The A.V. Club said “The irony of Part II’s mere existence is rich enough: The free market is a religion for Rand acolytes, and it emphatically rejected Part I.”[55]

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Atlas Shrugged: Part I – Wikipedia

Atlas Shrugged | AynRand.org

Reason and freedom are corollaries, Ayn Rand holds, as are faith and force. Atlas Shrugged showcases both relationships.

The heroes are unwavering thinkers. Whether it is a destructive business scheme proclaimed as moral, the potential collapse of the economy, or a personal life filled with pain, the heroes seek to face the facts and understand. To them, reason is an absolute. Politically, therefore, what they require and demand is freedom. Freedom to think, to venture into the new and unknown, to earn, to trade, to succeed and fail and pursue their own individual happiness.

The villains, by contrast, reject the absolutism of reason. They want a world ruled by their feelings, in which wishing makes it so. James Taggart, for instance, wants to be the head of a railroad without the need of effort. No amount of thinking can bring such a world about he must attempt to bring it about by force. As Rand puts it elsewhere, Anyone who resorts to the formula: Its so, because I say so, will have to reach for a gun, sooner or later.

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Atlas Shrugged | AynRand.org

Ayn Rand | Biography, Books, & Facts | Britannica.com

Ayn Rand, original name Alissa Zinovievna Rosenbaum, (born February 2, 1905, St. Petersburg, Russiadied March 6, 1982, New York, New York, U.S.), Russian-born American writer whose commercially successful novels promoting individualism and laissez-faire capitalism were influential among conservatives and libertarians and popular among generations of young people in the United States from the mid-20th century.

Her father, Zinovy Rosenbaum, was a prosperous pharmacist. After being tutored at home, Alissa Rosenbaum, the eldest of three children, was enrolled in a progressive school, where she excelled academically but was socially isolated. Following the Russian Revolution of 1917, her fathers shop was confiscated by communist authorities, an event she deeply resented. As a student at Leningrad State University, she studied history and became acquainted with the works of Plato and Aristotle. After graduating in 1924, she enrolled in the State Institute for Cinematography, hoping to become a screenwriter.

The arrival of a letter from cousins in Chicago gave her an opportunity to leave the country on the pretext of gaining expertise that she could apply in the Soviet film industry. Upon her arrival in the United States in 1926, she changed her name to Ayn Rand. (The first name, which rhymes with pine, was inspired by the name of a Finnish writer, whom she never identified, and the surname she described as an abbreviation of Rosenbaum.) After six months in Chicago she moved to Hollywood, where a fortuitous encounter with the producer Cecil B. DeMille led to work as a movie extra and eventually to a job as a screenwriter. In 1929 she married the actor Frank OConnor. Soon hired as a filing clerk in the wardrobe department of RKO Radio Pictures, Inc., she rose to head of the department within a year, meanwhile writing stories, plays, and film scenarios in her spare time. She became an American citizen in 1931.

Rands first successful play, Night of January 16th (1933; originally titled Penthouse Legend), was a paean to individualism in the form of a courtroom drama. In 1934 she and OConnor moved to New York City so that she could oversee the plays production on Broadway. That year she also wrote Ideal, about a self-centred film star on the run from the law, first as a novel and then as a play. However, she shelved both versions. The play was not produced until 1989, and the novel was not published until 2015. Her first published novel, We the Living (1936), was a romantic tragedy in which Soviet totalitarianism epitomized the inherent evils of collectivism, which she understood as the subordination of individual interests to those of the state. A subsequent novella, Anthem (1938), portrayed a future collectivist dystopia in which the concept of the self and even the word I have been lost.

Rand spent more than seven years working on her first major work, The Fountainhead (1943), the story of a handsome architectural genius whose individualism and integrity are evinced in his principled dedication to his own happiness. The hero, Howard Roark, blows up a public housing project he had designed after it is altered against his wishes by government bureaucrats. On trial for his crime, he delivers a lengthy speech in his own defense in which he argues for individualism over collectivism and egoism over altruism (the doctrine which demands that man live for others and place others above self). The jury votes unanimously to acquit him. Despite generally bad reviews, the book attracted readers through word of mouth and eventually became a best seller. Rand sold it to Warner Brothers studio and wrote the screenplay for the film, which was released in 1949.

Having returned to Los Angeles with OConnor to work on the script for The Fountainhead, Rand signed a contract to work six months a year as a screenwriter for the independent producer Hal Wallis. In 1945 she began sketches for her next novel, Atlas Shrugged (1957; film part 1, 2011, part 2, 2012, part 3, 2014), which is generally considered her masterpiece. The book depicts a future United States on the verge of economic collapse after years of collectivist misrule, under which productive and creative citizens (primarily industrialists, scientists, and artists) have been exploited to benefit an undeserving population of moochers and incompetents. The hero, John Galt, a handsome and supremely self-interested physicist and inventor, leads a band of elite producers and creators in a strike designed to deprive the economy of their leadership and thereby force the government to respect their economic freedom. From their redoubt in Colorado, Galts Gulch, they watch as the national economy and the collectivist social system are destroyed. As the elite emerge from the Gulch in the novels final scene, Galt raises his hand over the desolate earth andtrace[s] in space the sign of the dollar.

Atlas Shrugged was notable for making explicit the philosophical assumptions that underlay The Fountainhead, which Rand described as only an overture to the later work. In an appendix to Atlas Shrugged, Rand described her systematic philosophy, which she called objectivism, as in essencethe concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.

Although the book was attacked by critics from across the political spectrum for its perceived immorality and misanthropy and its overt hostility to religion (Rand was an atheist), it was an instant best seller. It was especially well received by business leaders, many of whom were impressed by its moral justification of capitalism and delighted to think of their occupations as noble and virtuous. Like The Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged also appealed widely to young people through its extreme romanticism, its accessible and comprehensive philosophy, its rejection of traditional authority and convention, and its implicit invitation to the reader to join the ranks of the elite by modeling himself on the storys hero.

In 1950 Rand agreed to meet a young admirer, Nathan Blumenthal, on the basis of his several articulate fan letters. The two established an immediate rapport, and Blumenthal and his girlfriend, Barbara Weidman, became Rands friends as well as her intellectual followers. In 1951 the couple moved to New York, and Rand and OConnor soon followed. There the Brandens, as Nathan and Barbara called themselves after their marriage in 1953, introduced Rand to their friends and relatives, some of whom later attended regular meetings at Rands apartment for discussion and to read newly written chapters of Atlas Shrugged. The group, which called itself the Class of 43 (a reference to the publication date of The Fountainhead) or (ironically) the Collective, included Alan Greenspan, an economics consultant who would later head the presidents Council of Economic Advisers (197477) and serve as chairman of the Federal Reserve (19872006). Among members of the Collective Nathan Branden was unquestionably Rands favourite. She openly acknowledged him as her intellectual heir and formally designated him as such in the afterword of Atlas Shrugged, which she co-dedicated to him and to OConnor.

In the late 1950s, with Rands permission, Branden established a business designed to teach the basic principles of objectivism to sympathetic readers of Rands novels. The Nathaniel Branden Institute (NBI), as it was later called, offered courses in objectivism in New York and distributed tape-recorded lectures by Branden to objectivist centers in various other cities. Despite its outward appearance as an educational institution, NBI did not permit its students to think critically about objectivism or to develop objectivist ideas in novel ways. Through the success of NBI, Branden would eventually become the public guardian of objectivist orthodoxy against innovation or unauthorized borrowing by objectivist sympathizers, especially among the growing student right. In 1962 Branden and Rand launched the monthly Objectivist Newsletter (renamed The Objectivist in 1966). Meanwhile, Rands fame grew apace with the brisk sales of her novels. She was invited to speak at numerous colleges and universities and was interviewed on television talk shows and on the news program 60 Minutes. Growing into her role as a public intellectual, she published her first work of nonfiction, For the New Intellectual, largely a collection of philosophical passages from her fiction, in 1961. The Virtue of Selfishness (1964) and Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal (1966) were drawn mostly from lectures and newsletter articles.

In 1968 Rand learned that Branden, with whom she had been having an intermittent affair (with their spouses knowledge) since 1954, was involved in a romantic relationship with a younger woman. Accusing him of betraying objectivist principles, she stripped him of his partnership in The Objectivist and demanded that he surrender control of NBI, which was soon dissolved. The closing of the institute freed various self-described objectivists to publicly develop their own interpretations of Rands philosophyall of which, however, she rejected as perversions or plagiarism of her ideas. She was especially incensed at the use of objectivist vocabulary by young libertarians, whom she accused of disregarding morality and flirting with anarchism. Meanwhile, Brandens status as Rands favourite disciple was assumed by Leonard Peikoff, an original member of the Collective whom she would eventually designate as her intellectual and legal heir.

In 1971 Rand ceased publication of The Objectivist and replaced it with the fortnightly Ayn Rand Letter, which appeared with increasing irregularity until 1976. In 1974 she underwent surgery for lung cancer. Although she recovered, she never again had the energy to pursue large-scale writing projects. In 1979 she published Introduction to Objectivist Epistemology, a collection of philosophical articles originally written in 1967. She was working on an adaptation of Atlas Shrugged for a television miniserieseventually unrealizedwhen she died.

Rand was continually frustrated by her failure to gain acceptance among academic philosophers, most of whom dismissed (or were simply unaware of) her work. This neglect, which she attributed to collectivist bias and incompetence, was partly due to the fictional form in which the best-known statements of her philosophy appeared, which necessarily rendered them imprecise by professional standards. Other factors were her idiosyncratic interpretation of the history of Western philosophy, her tendency to rely, even in her nonfiction works, on broad ad hominem attacks, and her general unwillingness to tolerate disagreement with her views among those with whom she associated.

In 1986 Barbara Branden published a memoir, The Passion of Ayn Rand, that disclosed Rands affair with Nathan and revealed unflattering details of her relations with members of the Collective and others. Despite the resulting damage to her reputation, her novels continued to enjoy large sales, and she retained a loyal following among conservatives and libertarians, including some high-ranking members of the Ronald Reagan administration (the most notable being Greenspan). In the 1990s and 2000s her works undoubtedly contributed to the increased popularity of libertarianism in the United States, and from 2009 she was an iconic figure in the antigovernment Tea Party movement. It is for these specifically political influences, rather than for her contributions to literature or philosophy, that she is likely to be remembered by future generations.

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Ayn Rand | Biography, Books, & Facts | Britannica.com

Ayn Rand Institute – Official Site

Ayn Rand (1905 1982) was a novelist and philosopher. She is best known for her novels Atlas Shrugged and The Fountainhead, and for the revolutionary philosophy she originated, Objectivism.

Ayn Rands philosophy for living on earth has changed the lives of millions and continues to influence American culture and politics. The Ayn Rand Institute is dedicated to advancing her principles of reason, rational self-interest and laissez-faire capitalism.

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Ayn Rand Institute – Official Site

Who Is Ayn Rand? – The Objective Standard

Ayn Rand (19051982) was an American novelist and philosopher, and the creator of Objectivism, which she called a philosophy for living on earth.

Rands most widely read novels are The Fountainhead, a story about an independent and uncompromising architect; and Atlas Shrugged, a story about the role of the mind in human life and about what happens to the world when the thinkers and producers mysteriously disappear. Her most popular nonfiction books are The Virtue of Selfishness, a series of essays about the foundations and principles of the morality of self-interest; and Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal, a series of essays about what capitalism is and why it is the only moral social system.

Rand was born in Russia, where she attended grade school and university; studied history, philosophy, and screenwriting; and witnessed the Bolshevik Revolution and the birth of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. In 1925, she left the burgeoning communist state, telling Soviet authorities she was going for a brief visit with relatives in America, and never returned.

She soon made her way to Hollywood, where she worked as a screenwriter, married actor Frank OConnor, and wrote her first novel, We The Living. She then moved to New York City, where she wrote Anthem (a novelette), The Fountainhead, Atlas Shrugged, numerous articles and essays, and several nonfiction books in which she defined and elaborated the principles of Objectivism.

Rands staunch advocacy of reason (as against faith and whim), self-interest (as against self-sacrifice), individualism and individual rights (as against collectivism and group rights), and capitalism (as against all forms of statism) make her both the most controversial and most important philosopher of the 20th century.

Describing Objectivism, Rand wrote: My philosophy, in essence, is the concept of man as a heroic being, with his own happiness as the moral purpose of his life, with productive achievement as his noblest activity, and reason as his only absolute.

For a good biography of Rand, see Jeffery Brittings Ayn Rand or Scott McConnells 100 Voices: An Oral History of Ayn Rand. For a brief presentation of the principles of Objectivism, see What is Objectivism? For the application of these principles to cultural and political issues of the day, subscribe to The Objective Standard, the preeminent source for commentary from an Objectivist perspective.

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Who Is Ayn Rand? – The Objective Standard

Atlas Shrugged: Part I (2011) – IMDb

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It was great to be alive, once, but the world was perishing. Factories were shutting down, transportation was grinding to a halt, granaries were empty–and key people who had once kept it running were disappearing all over the country. As the lights winked out and the cities went cold, nothing was left to anyone but misery. No one knew how to stop it, no one understood why it was happening – except one woman, the operating executive of a once mighty transcontinental railroad, who suspects the answer may rest with a remarkable invention and the man who created it – a man who once said he would stop the motor of the world. Everything now depends on finding him and discovering the answer to the question on the lips of everyone as they whisper it in fear: Who *is* John Galt? Written byRobb

Taglines:Who is John Galt?

Budget:$20,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA: $1,686,347,17 April 2011, Limited Release

Gross USA: $4,752,353

Runtime: 97 min

Aspect Ratio: 2.35 : 1

Excerpt from:

Atlas Shrugged: Part I (2011) – IMDb

Atlas Shrugged Movie (Official Site)

12.11.18

Watch Draw My Life videos, the Nathaniel Branden lectures, and more on The Atlas Society site!

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Catch up on “Anthem: The Graphic Novel” video series!

08.30.18

Galt’s Gulch Producers: Get a FREE autographed movie poster!

06.28.18

Vote for “Atlas Shrugged” in the Great American Read contest!

04.19.18

Little Pink House is in theaters Friday, April 20th!

02.01.18

Watch the new “Draw My Life” video, featuring Envy, from The Atlas Society.

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Atlas Shrugged Movie (Official Site)

SparkNotes: Atlas Shrugged: Plot Overview

In an environment of worsening economicconditions, Dagny Taggart, vice president in charge of operations,works to repair Taggart Transcontinentals crumbling Rio Norte Lineto service Colorado, the last booming industrial area in the country.Her efforts are hampered by the fact that many of the countrysmost talented entrepreneurs are retiring and disappearing. The railroadscrisis worsens when the Mexican government nationalizes TaggartsSan Sebastian Line. The line had been built to service FranciscodAnconias copper mills, but the mills turn out to be worthless.Francisco had been a successful industrialist, and Dagnys lover,but has become a worthless playboy. To solve the railroads financialproblems, Dagnys brother Jim uses political influence to pass legislationthat destroys Taggarts only competition in Colorado. Dagny mustfix the Rio Norte Line immediately and plans to use Rearden Metal,a new alloy created by Hank Rearden. When confronted about the SanSebastian mines, Francisco tells Dagny he is deliberately destroyingdAnconia Copper. Later he appears at Reardens anniversary partyand, meeting him for the first time, urges Rearden to reject thefreeloaders who live off of him.

The State Science Institute issues a denunciation of Rearden metal,and Taggarts stock crashes. Dagny decides to start her own companyto rebuild the line, and it is a huge success. Dagny and Reardenbecome lovers. Together they discover a motor in an abandoned factorythat runs on static electricity, and they seek the inventor. Thegovernment passes new legislation that cripples industry in Colorado.Ellis Wyatt, an oil industrialist, suddenly disappears after settingfire to his wells. Dagny is forced to cut trains, and the situationworsens. Soon, more industrialists disappear. Dagny believes thereis a destroyer at work, taking men away when they are most needed.Francisco visits Rearden and asks him why he remains in businessunder such repressive conditions. When a fire breaks out and theywork together to put it out, Francisco understands Reardens lovefor his mills.

Rearden goes on trial for breaking one of the new laws,but refuses to participate in the proceedings, telling the judgesthey can coerce him by force but he wont help them to convict him.Unwilling to be seen as thugs, they let him go. Economic dictatorWesley Mouch needs Reardens cooperation for a new set of socialistlaws, and Jim needs economic favors that will keep his ailing railroadrunning after the collapse of Colorado. Jim appeals to Reardenswife Lillian, who wants to destroy her husband. She tells him Rearden andDagny are having an affair, and he uses this information in a trade.The new set of laws, Directive 10-289,is irrational and repressive. It includes a ruling that requiresall patents to be signed over to the government. Rearden is blackmailedinto signing over his metal to protect Dagnys reputation.

Dagny quits over the new directive and retreats to a mountain lodge.When she learns of a massive accident at the Taggart Tunnel, shereturns to her job. She receives a letter from the scientist shehad hired to help rebuild the motor, and fears he will be the nexttarget of the destroyer. In an attempt to stop him from disappearing,she follows him in an airplane and crashes in the mountains. Whenshe wakes up, she finds herself in a remote valley where all theretired industrialists are living. They are on strike, calling ita strike of the mind. There, she meets John Galt, who turns outto be both the destroyer and the man who built the motor. She fallsin love with him, but she cannot give up her railroad, and she leavesthe valley. When she returns to work, she finds that the governmenthas nationalized the railroad industry. Government leaders wanther to make a speech reassuring the public about the new laws. Sherefuses until Lillian comes to blackmail her. On the air, she proudlyannounces her affair with Rearden and reveals that he has been blackmailed. Shewarns the country about its repressive government.

With the economy on the verge of collapse, Francisco destroys therest of his holdings and disappears. The politicians no longer evenpretend to work for the public good. Their vast network of influencepeddling creates worse chaos, as crops rot waiting for freight trainsthat are diverted for personal favors. In an attempt to gain controlof Franciscos mills, the government stages a riot at Rearden Steel.But the steelworkers organize and fight back, led by Francisco,who has been working undercover at the mills. Francisco saves Reardenslife, then convinces him to join the strike.

Just as the head of state prepares to give a speech onthe economic situation, John Galt takes over the airwaves and deliversa lengthy address to the country, laying out the terms of the strikehe has organized. In desperation, the government seeks Galt to makehim their economic dictator. Dagny inadvertently leads them to him,and they take him prisoner. But Galt refuses to help them, evenafter he is tortured. Finally, Dagny and the strikers rescue himin an armed confrontation with guards. They return to the valley,where Dagny finally joins the strike. Soon, the countrys collapseis complete and the strikers prepare to return.

See the rest here:

SparkNotes: Atlas Shrugged: Plot Overview

Atlas Shrugged | AynRand.org

Reason and freedom are corollaries, Ayn Rand holds, as are faith and force. Atlas Shrugged showcases both relationships.

The heroes are unwavering thinkers. Whether it is a destructive business scheme proclaimed as moral, the potential collapse of the economy, or a personal life filled with pain, the heroes seek to face the facts and understand. To them, reason is an absolute. Politically, therefore, what they require and demand is freedom. Freedom to think, to venture into the new and unknown, to earn, to trade, to succeed and fail and pursue their own individual happiness.

The villains, by contrast, reject the absolutism of reason. They want a world ruled by their feelings, in which wishing makes it so. James Taggart, for instance, wants to be the head of a railroad without the need of effort. No amount of thinking can bring such a world about he must attempt to bring it about by force. As Rand puts it elsewhere, Anyone who resorts to the formula: Its so, because I say so, will have to reach for a gun, sooner or later.

More here:

Atlas Shrugged | AynRand.org

Atlas Shrugged: Part I – Wikipedia

Atlas Shrugged: Part I (referred to onscreen as simply Atlas Shrugged) is a 2011 American political science fiction drama film directed by Paul Johansson. An adaptation of part of Ayn Rand’s controversial 1957 novel of the same name, the film is the first in a trilogy encompassing the entire book. After various treatments and proposals floundered for nearly 40 years,[4] investor John Aglialoro initiated production in June 2010. The film was directed by Paul Johansson and stars Taylor Schilling as Dagny Taggart and Grant Bowler as Hank Rearden.

The film begins the story of Atlas Shrugged, set in a dystopian United States where John Galt leads innovators, from industrialists to artists, in a capital strike, “stopping the motor of the world” to reassert the importance of the free use of one’s mind and of laissez-faire capitalism.[5]

Despite near universally negative critical response and commercial failure, grossing just under a fourth of its budget, a sequel, Atlas Shrugged: Part II, was released on October 12, 2012, albeit with an entirely different cast. The third installment, Atlas Shrugged Part III: Who Is John Galt?, was released on September 12, 2014,[6] again with an overhaul on production.

In 2016, the United States is in a sustained economic depression. Industrial disasters, resource shortages, and gasoline prices at $37 per gallon have made railroads the primary mode of transportation, but even they are in disrepair. After a major accident on the Rio Norte line of the Taggart Transcontinental railroad, CEO James Taggart shirks responsibility. His sister Dagny Taggart, Vice-President in Charge of Operations, defies him by replacing the aging track with new rails made of Rearden Metal, which is claimed to be lighter yet stronger than steel. Dagny meets with its inventor, Hank Rearden, and they negotiate a deal they both admit serves their respective self-interests.

Politician Wesley Mouchnominally Rearden’s lobbyist in Washington, D.C.is part of a crowd that views heads of industry as persons who must be broken or tamed. James Taggart uses political influence to ensure that Taggart Transcontinental is designated the exclusive railroad for the state of Colorado. Dagny is confronted by Ellis Wyatt, a Colorado oil man angry to be forced to do business with Taggart Transcontinental. Dagny promises him that he will get the service he needs. Dagny encounters former lover Francisco d’Anconia, who presents a faade of a playboy grown bored with the pursuit of money. He reveals that a series of copper mines he built are worthless, costing his investors (including the Taggart railroad) millions.

Rearden lives in a magnificent home with a wife and a brother who are happy to live off his effort, though they overtly disrespect it. Rearden’s anniversary gift to his wife Lillian is a bracelet made from the first batch of Rearden Metal, but she considers it a garish symbol of Hank’s egotism. At a dinner party, Dagny dares Lillian to exchange it for Dagny’s diamond necklace, which she does.

As Dagny and Rearden rebuild the Rio Norte line, talented people quit their jobs and refuse all inducements to stay. Meanwhile, Dr. Robert Stadler of the State Science Institute puts out a report implying that Rearden Metal is dangerous. Taggart Transcontinental stock plummets because of its use of Rearden Metal, and Dagny leaves Taggart Transcontinental temporarily and forms her own company to finish the Rio Norte line. She renames it the John Galt Line, in defiance of the phrase “Who is John Galt?”which has come to stand for any question to which it is pointless to seek an answer.

A new law forces Rearden to sell most of his businesses, but he retains Rearden Steel for the sake of his metal and to finish the John Galt Line. Despite strong government and union opposition to Rearden Metal, Dagny and Rearden complete the line ahead of schedule and successfully test it on a record-setting run to Wyatt’s oil fields in Colorado. At the home of Wyatt, now a close friend, Dagny and Rearden celebrate the success of the line. As Dagny and Rearden continue their celebration into the night by fulfilling their growing sexual attraction, the shadowy figure responsible for the disappearances of prominent people visits Wyatt with an offer for a better society based on personal achievement.

The next morning, Dagny and Rearden begin investigating an abandoned prototype of an advanced motor that could revolutionize the world. They realize the genius of the motor’s creator and try to track him down. Dagny finds Dr. Hugh Akston, working as a cook at a diner, but he is not willing to reveal the identity of the inventor; Akston knows whom Dagny is seeking and says she will never find him, though he may find her.

Another new law limits rail freight and levies a special tax on Colorado. It is the final straw for Ellis Wyatt. When Dagny hears that Wyatt’s oil fields are on fire, she rushes to the scene of the fire where she finds a handwritten sign nailed to the wall that reads “I am leaving it as I found it. Take over. It’s yours.”

Wyatt declares in an answering machine message that he is “on strike”.

In 1972, Albert S. Ruddy approached Rand to produce a cinematic adaptation of Atlas Shrugged. Rand agreed that Ruddy could focus on the love story. “That’s all it ever was,” Rand said.[9][10][11] Rand insisted on having final script approval, which Ruddy refused to give her, thus preventing a deal. In 1978, Henry and Michael Jaffe negotiated a deal for an eight-hour Atlas Shrugged television miniseries on NBC. Jaffe hired screenwriter Stirling Silliphant to adapt the novel and he obtained approval from Rand on the final script. However, in 1979, with Fred Silverman’s rise as president of NBC, the project was scrapped.[12]

Rand, a former Hollywood screenwriter herself, began writing her own screenplay, but died in 1982 with only one third of it finished. She left her estate, including the film rights to Atlas Shrugged, to her student Leonard Peikoff, who sold an option to Michael Jaffe and Ed Snider. Peikoff would not approve the script they wrote and the deal fell through. In 1992, investor John Aglialoro bought an option to produce the film, paying Peikoff over $1 million for full creative control.[12]

In 1999, under Aglialoro’s sponsorship, Ruddy negotiated a deal with Turner Network Television for a four-hour miniseries, but the project was killed after the AOL Time Warner merger. After the TNT deal fell through, Howard and Karen Baldwin, while running Phillip Anschutz’s Crusader Entertainment, obtained the rights. The Baldwins left Crusader, taking the rights to Atlas Shrugged with them, and formed Baldwin Entertainment Group in 2004. Michael Burns of Lions Gate Entertainment approached the Baldwins to fund and distribute Atlas Shrugged.[12] A two-part draft screenplay written by James V. Hart[13] was re-written into a 127page screenplay by Randall Wallace, with Vadim Perelman expected to direct.[14] Potential cast members for this production had included Angelina Jolie,[15] Charlize Theron,[16] Julia Roberts,[16] and Anne Hathaway.[16] Between 2009 and 2010, however, these deals came apart, including studio backing from Lions Gate, and therefore none of the stars mentioned above appear in the final film. Also, Wallace did not do the screenplay, and Perelman did not direct.[1][17] Aglialoro says producers have spent “something in the $20 million range” on the project over the last 18 years.[2]

In May 2010, Brian Patrick O’Toole and Aglialoro wrote a screenplay, intent on filming in June 2010. While initial rumors claimed that the films would have a “timeless” settingthe producers say Rand envisioned the story as occurring “the day after tomorrow”[18]the released film is set in late 2016. The writers were mindful of the desire of some fans for fidelity to the novel,[18] but gave some characters, such as Eddie Willers, short shrift and omitted others, such as the composer Richard Halley. The film is styled as a mystery, with black-and-white freeze frames as each innovator goes “missing”. However, Galt appears and speaks in the film, solving the mystery more clearly than in the first third of the novel.

Though director Johansson had been reported as playing the pivotal role of John Galt, he made it clear in an interview that with regard to who is John Galt in the film, the answer was, “Not me.”[7] He explained that his portrayal of the character would be limited to the first film as a silhouetted figure wearing a trenchcoat and fedora,[8] suggesting that another actor will be cast as Galt for the subsequent parts of the trilogy.

Though Stephen Polk was initially set to direct,[19] he was replaced by Paul Johansson nine days before filming was scheduled to begin. With the 18-year-long option to the films rights set to expire on June 15, 2010, producers Harmon Kaslow and Aglialoro began principal photography on June 13, 2010, thus allowing Aglialoro to retain the motion picture rights. Shooting took five weeks, and he says that the total production cost of the movie came in on a budget around US$10 million,[20] though Box Office Mojo lists the production cost as $20 million.[3]

Elia Cmiral composed the score for the film.[21] Peter Debruge wrote in Variety that “More ambitious sound design and score, rather than the low-key filler from composer Elia Cmiral and music supervisor Steve Weisberg, might have significantly boosted the pic’s limited scale.”[22]

Matt Kibbe, President of FreedomWorks[23]

The film had a very low marketing budget and was not marketed in conventional methods.[24] Prior to the film’s release on the politically symbolic date of Tax Day, the project was promoted throughout the Tea Party movement and affiliated organizations such as FreedomWorks.[23] The National Journal reported that FreedomWorks, the Tea Party-allied group headed by former House Majority Leader Dick Armey, (R-Texas), had been trying to get the movie opened in more theaters.[23] FreedomWorks also helped unveil the Atlas Shrugged movie trailer at the February 2011 Conservative Political Action Conference.[23] Additionally, it was reported that Tea Party groups across the country were plugging the movie trailer on their websites and Facebook pages.[23] Release of the movie was also covered and promoted by Fox News TV personalities John Stossel and Sean Hannity.[25][26]

The U.S. release of Atlas Shrugged: Part I opened on 300 screens on April 15, 2011, and made US$1,676,917 in its opening weekend, finishing in 14th place overall.[27] Producers announced expansion to 423 theaters several days after release and promised 1,000 theaters by the end of April,[28] but the release peaked at 465 screens. Ticket sales dropped off significantly in its second week of release, despite the addition of 165 screens; after six weeks, the film was showing on only 32 screens and total ticket sales had not crossed the $5 million mark, recouping less than a quarter of the production budget.[29]

Atlas Shrugged: Part I was released on DVD and Blu-ray Disc on November 8, 2011 by 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment.[30] More than 100,000 DVD inserts were recalled within days due to the jacket’s philosophically incorrect description of “Ayn Rand’s timeless novel of courage and self-sacrifice”.[31] As of April 2013, 247,044 DVDs had been sold, grossing $3,433,445.[32]

The film received overwhelmingly negative reviews. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a score of 11% based on 47 reviews, with an average score of 3.6 out of 10. The site’s consensus was: “Passionate ideologues may find it compelling, but most filmgoers will find this low-budget adaptation of the Ayn Rand bestseller decidedly lacking.”[33] Metacritic gives the film a “generally unfavorable” rating of 28%, as determined by averaging 19 professional reviews.[34] Some commentators noted differences in film critics’ reactions from audience members’ reactions; from the latter group, the film received high scores even before the film was released.[35][36][37]

Let’s say you know the novel, you agree with Ayn Rand, you’re an objectivist or a libertarian, and you’ve been waiting eagerly for this movie. Man, are you going to get a letdown. It’s not enough that a movie agree with you, in however an incoherent and murky fashion. It would help if it were like, you know, entertaining?

Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times, April 14, 2011[1]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film only one star, calling it “the most anticlimactic non-event since Geraldo Rivera broke into Al Capone’s vault.”[1] Columnist Cathy Young of The Boston Globe gave the film a negative review.[38] Chicago Tribune published a predominantly negative review, arguing that the film lacks Rand’s philosophical theme, while at the same time saying “the actors, none of them big names, are well-suited to the roles. The story has drive, color and mystery. It looks good on the screen.”[39] In the New York Post, Kyle Smith gave the film a mostly negative review, grading it at 2.5/4 stars, criticizing its “stilted dialogue and stern, unironic hectoring” and calling it “stiff in the joints”, but also adding that it “nevertheless contains a fire and a fury that makes it more compelling than the average mass-produced studio item.”[40]

Reviews in the conservative press were more mixed. American economist Mark Skousen praised the film, writing in Human Events, “The script is true to the philosophy of Ayn Rand’s novel.”[41] The Weekly Standard senior editor Fred Barnes noted that the film “gets Rand’s point across forcefully without too much pounding”, that it is “fast-paced” when compared with the original novel’s 1200-page length, and that it is “at least as relevant today as it was when the novel was published in 1957.”[42] Jack Hunter, contributing editor to The American Conservative, wrote, “If you ask the average film critic about the new movie adaptation of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged they will tell you it is a horrible movie. If you ask the average conservative or libertarian they will tell you it is a great movie. Objectively, it is a mediocre movie at best. Subjectively, it is one of the best mediocre movies you’ll ever see.”[43] In the National Post, Peter Foster credited the movie for the daunting job of fidelity to the novel, wryly suggested a plot rewrite along the lines of comparable current events, and concluded, “if it sinks without trace, its backers should at least be proud that they lost their own money.”[44]

The poor critical reception of Atlas Shrugged: Part I initially made Aglialoro reconsider his plans for the rest of the trilogy.[45] In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, he said he was continuing with plans to produce Part II and Part III for release on April 15 in 2012 and 2013, respectively.[46] In a later interview with The Boston Globe, Aglialoro was ambivalent: “I learned something long ago playing poker. If you think you’re beat[en], don’t go all in. If Part 1 makes [enough of] a return to support Part 2, I’ll do it. Other than that, I’ll throw the hand in.”[47]

In July 2011, Aglialoro planned to start production of Atlas Shrugged: Part II in September, with its release timed to coincide with the 2012 U.S. elections.[48] In October 2011, producer Harmon Kaslow stated that he hoped filming for Part II would begin in early 2012, “with hopes of previewing it around the time of the nominating conventions”. Kaslow anticipated that the film, which would encompass the second third of Atlas Shrugged, would “probably be 30 to 40 minutes longer than the first movie.” Kaslow also stated his intent that Part II would have a bigger production budget, as well as a larger advertising budget.[49]

On February 2, 2012, Kaslow and Aglialoro, the producers of Atlas Shrugged: Part II, announced a start date for principal photography in April 2012 with a release date of October 12, 2012.[50] Joining the production team was Duncan Scott, who, in 1986, was responsible for creating a new, re-edited version with English subtitles of the 1942 Italian film adaptation of We the Living. The first film’s entire cast was replaced for the sequel.

The sequel film, Atlas Shrugged: Part II, was released on October 12, 2012.[51] Critics gave the film a 4% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 23 reviews.[52] One reviewer gave the film a “D” rating,[53] while another reviewer gave the film a “1” rating (of 4).[54] In naming Part II to its list of 2012’s worst films, The A.V. Club said “The irony of Part II’s mere existence is rich enough: The free market is a religion for Rand acolytes, and it emphatically rejected Part I.”[55]

Excerpt from:

Atlas Shrugged: Part I – Wikipedia

Atlas Shrugged: (Centennial Edition) by Ayn Rand, Paperback …

INTRODUCTIONby Leonard Peikoff

Ayn Rand is one of Americas favorite authors. In a recent Library of Congress/Book of the Month Club survey, American readers ranked Atlas Shruggedher masterworkas second only to the Bible in its influence on their lives. For decades, at scores of college campuses around the country, students have formed clubs to discuss the works of Ayn Rand. In 1998, the Oscar-nominated Ayn Rand: A Sense of Life, a documentary film about her life, played to sold-out venues throughout America and Canada. In recognition of her enduring popularity, the United States Postal Service in 1999 issued an Ayn Rand stamp.

Every book by Ayn Rand published in her lifetime is still in print, and hundreds of thousands of copies of them are sold every year, so far totaling more than twenty million. Why?

Ayn Rand understood, all the way down to fundamentals, why man needs the unique form of nourishment that is literature. And she provided a banquet that was at once intellectual and thrilling.

The major novels of Ayn Rand contain superlative values that are unique in our age. Atlas Shrugged (1957) and The Fountainhead (1943) offer profound and original philosophic themes, expressed in logical, dramatic plot structures. They portray an uplifted vision of man, in the form of protagonists characterized by strength, purposefulness, integrityheroes who are not only idealists, but happy idealists, self-confident, serene, at home on earth. (See synopses later in this guide.)

Ayn Rands first novel, We the Living (1936), set in the post-revolutionary Soviet Union, is an indictment not merely of Soviet-style Communism, but of any and every totalitarian state that claims the right to sacrifice the supreme value of an individual human life.

Anthem (1946), a prose poem set in the future, tells of one mans rebellion against an utterly collectivized world, a world in which joyless, selfless men are permitted to exist only for the sake of serving the group. Written in 1937, Anthem was first published in England; it was refused publication in America until 1946, for reasons the reader can discover by reading it for himself.

Ayn Rand wrote in a highly calculated literary style intent on achieving precision and luminous clarity, yet that style is at the same time colorful, sensuously evocative, and passionate. Her exalted vision of man and her philosophy for living on earth, Objectivism, have changed the lives of tens of thousands of readers and launched a major philosophic movement with a growing impact on American culture.

You are invited to sit down to the banquet which is Ayn Rands novels. I hope you personally enjoy them as much as I did.

About the Books

Atlas Shrugged (1957) is a mystery story, Ayn Rand once commented, “not about the murder of mans body, but about the murderand rebirthof mans spirit.” It is the story of a manthe novels herowho says that he will stop the motor of the world, and does. The deterioration of the U.S. accelerates as the story progresses. Factories, farms, shops shut down or go bankrupt in ever larger numbers. Riots break out as food supplies become scarce. Is he, then, a destroyer or the greatest of liberators? Why does he have to fight his battle, not against his enemies but against those who need him most, including the woman, Dagny Taggart, a top railroad executive, whom he passionately loves? What is the worlds motorand the motive power of every man?

Peopled by larger-than-life heroes and villains, and charged with awesome questions of good and evil, Atlas Shrugged is a novel of tremendous scope. It presents an astounding panorama of human lifefrom the productive genius who becomes a worthless playboy (Francisco dAnconia)to the great steel industrialist who does not know that he is working for his own destruction (Hank Rearden)to the philosopher who becomes a pirate (Ragnar Danneskjold)to the composer who gives up his career on the night of his triumph (Richard Halley). Dramatizing Ayn Rands complete philosophy, Atlas Shrugged is an intellectual revolution told in the form of an action thriller of violent eventsand with a ruthlessly brilliant plot and irresistible suspense.

We do not want to spoil the plot by giving away its secret or its deeper meaning, so as a hint only we will quote here one brief exchange from the novel:

“Idont know. Whatcould he do? What would you tell him?”

“To shrug.”The Fountainhead (1943) introduced the world to architect Howard Roark, an intransigent, egoistic hero of colossal stature. A man whose arrogant pride in his work is fully earned, Roark is an innovator who battles against a tradition-worshipping society. Expelled from a prestigious architectural school, refused work, reduced to laboring in a granite quarry, Roark is never stopped. He has to withstand not merely professional rejection, but also the enmity of Ellsworth Toohey, leading humanitarian; of Gail Wynand, powerful publisher; and of Dominique Francon, the beautiful columnist who loves him fervently yet, for reasons you will discover, is bent on destroying his career.

At the climax of the novel, the untalented but successful architect Peter Keating, a college friend of his, pleads with Roark for help in designing a prestigious project that Roark himself wanted but was too unpopular to win. Roark agrees to design the project secretly on condition that it be built strictly according to his drawings. During construction, however, Roarks building is thoroughly mutilated. Having no recourse in law, Roark takes matters into his own hands in a famous act of dynamiting. In the process and the subsequent courtroom trial, he makes his stand clear, risking his career, his love, and his life.

The Fountainhead portrays individualism versus collectivism, not in politics, but in mans soul; it presents the motivations and the basic premises that produce the character of an individualist or a collectivist.The novel was made into a motion picture in 1949, starring Gary Cooper and Patricia Neal, for which Ayn Rand wrote the screenplay. The movie, available on video, often plays on cable TV and at art-house cinemas, where it is always received enthusiastically.

We the Living (1936), Ayn Rands first and most autobiographical novel, is a haunting account of mens struggle for survival in the post-revolutionary Soviet Union. In a country where people fear being thought disloyal to the Communist state, three individuals stand forth with the mark of the unconquered in their being: Kira, who wants to become a builder, and the two men who love herLeo, an aristocrat, and Andrei, an idealistic Communist.

When Leo becomes ill with tuberculosis, Kira strives to get him the medical attention needed to save his life. But she is trapped in a society that regards the individual as expendable. No matter where she turns, she faces closed doors and refusals. The State tells her: “One hundred thousand workers died in the civil war. Whyin the face of the Union of Socialist Soviet Republicscant one aristocrat die?”

Kiras love for Leo is such that the price of saving his life is no object. To pay for sending him to a sanitarium, she becomes the mistress of Andrei Taganovwho is not only an idealist, but also an officer of the Soviet secret police. The gripping and poignant resolution of the love triangle is an indictment not merely of Soviet-style Communism, but of the totalitarian state as such.

During World War II, an Italian film of We the Living was produced without Ayn Rands knowledge. Largely faithful to the book, the film was approved by Italys Fascist government on the grounds that it was anti-communist. But the Italian public understood that the movie was just as anti-fascist as it was anti-communist. People grasped Ayn Rands theme that dictatorship as such is evil, and embraced the movie. Five months after its release, Mussolinis government figured out what everyone else knew, and banned the movie. This is eloquent proof of Ayn Rands claim that the book is not merely “about Soviet Russia.”

After the war, the movie was re-edited under Ayn Rands supervision. The movie is still played at art-house cinemas, and is now available on videotape.

Anthem (1946), a novelette in the form of a prose poem, depicts a grim world of the future that is totally collectivized. Technologically primitive, it is a world in which candles are the very latest advance. From birth to death, mens lives are directed for them by the State. At Palaces of Mating, the State enacts its eugenics program; once born and schooled, people are assigned jobs they dare not refuse, toiling in the fields until they are consigned to the Home of the Useless.

This is a world in which men live and die for the sake of the State. The State is all, the individual is nothing. It is a world in which the word “I” has vanished from the language, replaced by “We.” For the sin of speaking the unspeakable “I,” men are put to death.

Equality 7-2521, however, rebels.

Though assigned to the life work of street sweeper by the rulers who resent his brilliant, inquisitive mind, he secretly becomes a scientist. Enduring the threat of torture and imprisonment, he continues in his quest for knowledge and ultimately rediscovers electric light. But when he shares it with the Council of Scholars, he is denounced for the sin of thinking what no other men think. He runs for his life, escaping to the uncharted forest beyond the citys edge. There, with his beloved, he begins a more intense sequence of discoveries, both personal and intellectual, that help him break free from the collectivist States brutal morality of sacrifice. He learns that mans greatest moral duty is the pursuit of his own happiness. He discovers and speaks the sacred word: I.

Anthems theme is the meaning and glory of mans ego.

About Objectivism

Ayn Rand held that philosophy was not a luxury for the few, but a life-and-death necessity of everyones survival. She described Objectivism, the intellectual framework of her novels, as a philosophy for living on earth. Rejecting all forms of supernaturalism and religion, Objectivism holds that Reality, the world of nature, exists as an objective absolutefacts are facts, independent of mans feelings, wishes, hopes, or fears; in short, “wishing wont make it so.” Further, Ayn Rand held that Reasonthe faculty that identifies and integrates the material provided by mans sensesis mans only source of knowledge, both of facts and of values. Reason is mans only guide to action, and his basic means of survival. Hence her rejection of all forms of mysticism, such as intuition, instinct, revelation, etc.

On the question of good and evil, Objectivism advocates a scientific code of morality: the morality of rational self-interest, which holds Mans Life as the standard of moral value. The good is that which sustains Mans Life; the evil is that which destroys it. Rationality, therefore, is mans primary virtue. Each man should live by his own mind and for his own sake, neither sacrificing himself to others nor others to himself. Man is an end in himself. His own happiness, achieved by his own work and trade, is each mans highest moral purpose.

In politics, as a consequence, Objectivism upholds not the welfare state, but laissez-faire capitalism (the complete separation of state and economics) as the only social system consistent with the requirements of Mans Life. The proper function of government is the original American system: to protect each individuals inalienable rights to life, liberty, property, and the pursuit of happiness.

Objectivism defines “art” as the re-creation of reality according to an artists metaphysical value-judgments. The greatest school in art history, it holds, is Romanticism, whose art represents things not as they are, but as they might be and ought to be.

The fundamentals of Objectivism are set forth in many nonfiction books including: For the New Intellectual; The Virtue of Selfishness; Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal; Return of the Primitive: The Anti-Industrial Revolution; Philosophy: Who Needs It; and The Romantic Manifesto. Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, written by Ayn Rands intellectual heir Leonard Peikoff and published in 1991, is the definitive presentation of her entire system of philosophy.

Ayn Rand was born in St. Petersburg, Russia, on February 2, 1905. At the age of nine, she decided to make fiction-writing her career. In late 1925 she obtained permission to leave the USSR for a visit to relatives in the United States. Arriving in New York in February 1926, she first spent six months with her relatives in Chicago before moving to Los Angeles.

On her second day in Hollywood, the famous director Cecil B. De Mille noticed her standing at the gate of his studio, offered her a ride to the set of his silent movie The King of Kings, and gave her a job, first as an extra and later as a script reader. During the next week at the studio, she met an actor, Frank OConnor, whom she married in 1929; they were happily married until his death fifty years later.

After struggling for several years at various menial jobs, including one in the wardrobe department at RKO, she sold her first screenplay, “Red Pawn,” to Universal Studios in 1932 and then saw her first play, Night of January 16th, produced in Hollywood and (in 1935) on Broadway. In 1936, her first novel, We the Living, was published.

She began writing The Fountainhead in 1935. In the character of Howard Roark, she presented for the first time the Ayn Rand hero, whose depiction was the chief goal of her writing: the ideal man, man as “he could be and ought to be.” The Fountainhead was rejected by a dozen publishers but finally accepted by Bobbs-Merrill; it came out in 1943. The novel made publishing history by becoming a best-seller within two years purely through word of mouth; it gained lasting recognition for Ayn Rand as a champion of individualism.

Atlas Shrugged (1957) was her greatest achievement and last work of fiction. In this novel she dramatizes her unique philosophy of Objectivism in an intellectual mystery story that integrates ethics, metaphysics, epistemology, politics, economics, and sex. Although she considered herself primarily a fiction writer, she realized early that in order to create heroic characters, she had to identify the philosophic principles which make such people possible. She proceeded to develop a “philosophy for living on earth.” Objectivism has now gained a worldwide audience and is an ever growing presence in American culture. Her novels continue to sell in enormous numbers every year, proving themselves enduring classics of literature.

Ayn Rand died on March 6, 1982, at her home in New York City.

Recollections of Ayn RandA Conversation with Leonard Peikoff, Ph.D.,Ayn Rand’s longtime associate and intellectual heir

Dr. Peikoff, you met Miss Rand when you were seventeen and were associated with her until her death, thirty-one years later. What were your first impressions of her? What was she like?

The strongest first impression I had of her was her passion for ideas. Ayn Rand was unlike anyone I had ever imagined. Her mind was utterly first-handed: she said what no one else had ever said or probably ever thought, but she said these things so logicallyso simply, factually, persuasivelythat they seemed to be self-evident. She radiated the kind of intensity that one could imagine changing the course of history. Her brilliantly perceptive eyes looked straight at you and missed nothing: neither did her methodical, painstaking, virtually scientific replies to my questions miss anything. She made me think for the first time that thinking is important. I said to myself after I left her home: “All of life will be different now. If she exists, everything is possible.”

In her fiction, Ayn Rand presented larger-than-life heroesembodiments of her philosophy of rational egoismthat have inspired countless readers over the years. Was Ayn Rands own life like that of her characters? Did she practice her own ideals?

Yes, always. From the age of nine, when she decided on a career as a writer, everything she did was integrated toward her creative purpose. As with Howard Roark, dedication to thought and thus to her work was the root of Ayn Rands person.

In every aspect of life, she once told me, a man should have favorites. He should define what he likes or wants most and why, and then proceed to get it. She always did just thatfleeing the Soviet dictatorship for America, tripping her future husband on a movie set to get him to notice her, ransacking ancient record shops to unearth some lost treasure, even decorating her apartment with an abundance of her favorite color, blue-green.

Given her radical views in morality and politics, did she ever soften or compromise her message?Never. She took on the whole worldliberals, conservatives, communists, religionists, Babbitts and avant-garde alikebut opposition had no power to sway her from her convictions.

I never saw her adapting her personality or viewpoint to please another individual. She was always the same and always herself, whether she was talking with me alone, or attending a cocktail party of celebrities, or being cheered or booed by a hall full of college students, or being interviewed on national television.

Couldnt she have profited by toning things down a little?

She could never be tempted to betray her convictions. A Texas oil man once offered her up to a million dollars to use in spreading her philosophy, if she would only add a religious element to it to make it more popular. She threw his proposal into the wastebasket. “What would I do with his money,” she asked me indignantly, “if I have to give up my mind in order to get it?”

Her integrity was the result of her method of thinking and her conviction that ideas really matter. She knew too clearly how she had reached her ideas, why they were true, and what their opposites were doing to mankind.

Who are some writers that Ayn Rand respected and enjoyed reading?

She did not care for most contemporary writers. Her favorites were the nineteenth century Romantic novelists. Above all, she admired Victor Hugo, though she often disagreed with his explicit views. She liked Dostoevsky for his superb mastery of plot structure and characterization, although she had no patience for his religiosity. In popular literature, she read all of Agatha Christie twice, and also liked the early novels of Mickey Spillane.

In addition to writing best-sellers, Ayn Rand originated a distinctive philosophy of reason. If someone wants to get an insight into her intellectual and creative development, what would you suggest?

A reader ought first to read her novels and main nonfiction in order to understand her views and values. Then, to trace her early literary development, a reader could pick up The Early Ayn Rand, a volume I edited after her death. It features a selection of short stories and plays that she wrote while mastering English and the art of fiction-writing. For a glimpse of her lifelong intellectual development, I would recommend the recent book Journals of Ayn Rand, edited by David Harriman.

Ayn Rands life was punctuated by disappointments with people, frustration, and early poverty. Was she embittered? Did she achieve happiness in her own life?

She did achieve happiness. Whatever her disappointments or frustrations, they went down, as she said about Roark, only to a certain point. Beneath it was her self-esteem, her values, and her conviction that happiness, not pain, is what matters. I remember a spring day in 1957. She and I were walking up Madison Avenue in New York toward the office of Random House, which was in the process of bringing out Atlas Shrugged. She was looking at the city she had always loved most, and now, after decades of rejection, she had seen the top publishers in that city competing for what she knew, triumphantly, was her masterpiece. She turned to me suddenly and said: “Dont ever give up what you want in life. The struggle is worth it.” I never forgot that. I can still see the look of quiet radiance on her face.

The Fountainhead

We the Living

Anthem

a) “It is a sin to write this. It is a sin to think words no others think.”

b) “I wished to know the meaning of things. I am the meaning.”

c) “I owe nothing to my brothers, nor do I gather debts from them.”

Objectivism

Related Titles

Fiction in PaperbackAnthem (New York: Signet, 1961).Atlas Shrugged (New York: Signet, 1959).The Fountainhead (New York: Signet, 25th anniv. ed., 1968).Night of January 16th (New York: Plume, 1987).We the Living (New York: Signet, 1960).

Nonfiction in PaperbackCapitalism: The Unknown Ideal (New York: Signet, 1967).The Early Ayn Rand: A Selection from Her Unpublished Fiction(New York: Signet, 1986).For the New Intellectual (New York: Signet, 1963).Philosophy: Who Needs It (New York: Signet, 1964).Return of the Primitive: The Anti-Industrial Revolution (New York:Meridian, 1999).The Romantic Manifesto (New York: Signet, 2nd rev. ed., 1971).The Virtue of Selfishness (New York: Signet, 1984).

On Ayn Rand and ObjectivismThe Ayn Rand Reader, edited by Gary Hull and Leonard Peikoff(New York: Plume, 1999).Journals of Ayn Rand, edited by David Harriman (New York:Dutton, 1997).Objectivism: The Philosophy of Ayn Rand, by Leonard Peikoff(New York: Meridian, 1993).

Excerpt from:

Atlas Shrugged: (Centennial Edition) by Ayn Rand, Paperback …

Atlas Shrugged: Part II (2012) – Rotten Tomatoes

The global economy is on the brink of collapse. Unemployment has risen to 24%. Gas is now $42 per gallon. Brilliant creators, from artists to industrialists, continue to mysteriously disappear at the hands of the unknown. Dagny Taggart, Vice President in Charge of Operations for Taggart Transcontinental, has discovered what may very well be the answer to a mounting energy crisis – found abandoned amongst the ruins of a once productive factory, a revolutionary motor that could seemingly power the World. But, the motor is dead… there is no one left to decipher its secret… and, someone is watching. It’s a race against the clock to find the inventor before the motor of the World is stopped for good. Who is John Galt? — (C) Official Site

Original post:

Atlas Shrugged: Part II (2012) – Rotten Tomatoes

Atlas Shrugged: Part I (2011) – Rotten Tomatoes

Billing itself as part one of an intended trilogy, Atlas Shrugged is an adaptation of Ayn Rand’s famous 1200-page book on the merits of self-interest. Rand has become resurgent in the last few years, a favorite author of the Tea Party, as her anti-government, anti-regulation, anti-union, and anti-poor perspective has found a new legion of fuming followers. I can’t imagine anyone else buying a ticket to the big screen version of Atlas Shrugged, a resoundingly tiresome and didactic enterprise. If this is what Part One brings, I can already predict the extensive yawning exercises I’ll have to do to get in shape for Parts Two and Three.In the not too distant future, America’s airline industry has ground to a halt due to rising gas prices ($35 a gallon we’re told). The country has gone back to rail and leading that charge is Taggart Railway, lead by Dagny Taggart (Taylor Schilling). She’s trying to save her company from her lazy brother, James (Matthew Marsden), who wants to rely on bribery and his Washington friends to get by. Dagny wants to join forces with steel tycoon Henry Reardon (Grant Bowler), who has staked his company’s future on special new extra shiny steel. Other companies want to block Dagny and Reardon’s efforts, relying on Washington to write strict laws penalizing the rich and successful and spreading the wealth around to those less unfortunate. At the same time, powerful businessmen seem to be vanishing and the only connection seems to be the identity of John Galt, a mysterious capitalist with an offer no rugged man of industry will refuse. Maybe Atlas shrugged because he got tired of how unbelievably boring this movie is. Oh my goodness, I was rolling my eyes and checking my watch every five minutes. The vast majority of this film involves ideologues disguised as characters talking about esoteric business practices. A full 80 percent of the dialogue has to be about railways and steel and this manufacturing and ore mines and… I’m sorry I fell asleep in the middle of writing that sentence. Seriously, this movie could be a cure for insomnia. It’s so crushingly boring that it makes you wonder how anyone could ever pick up Rand’s novel and think, “This deserves to be a film.” There are segments where characters will talk this corporate gobblety-gook in unbroken reams, the actors behaving like androids. Now technical talk is not necessarily a one-way ticket to snoozeville, as political and corporate dramas can be quite invigorating in the right hands (see: Margin Call). It helps when you have a story, but with Atlas Shrugged all we have are mouthpieces for a political ideology. Regardless of political opinion, the movie fails because it never makes the story feel like it matters. The dialogue is perfunctory, labored, and inert, bogged down with lazy philosophical jabs. It’s all tedious expository dialogue with no room for character. Who wouldn’t want to watch a movie completely around the conflict of whether a train will get its steel tracks? That’s it. You wouldn’t know any of this mattered without the helpful inclusion of an overly enthusiastic dramatic score. Who cares about any of this junk? If you’re looking for the most high-profile movie of 2011 to talk about the infrastructure dynamics of railways, your long wait ends here.Dagny and Reardon are supposed to be our heroes, the champions of the not-so-little guy, and thus we’re intended to root for their romantic coupling. Never mind that Reardon is married because, in that age-old point of rom/com rationalization, his wife is a bitch. The two have one of the most robotic lovemaking scenes I’ve seen in recent memory, and this flash of sexuality and a few dirty words are the sole reason this film earned a PG-13 rating. These characters remain one-note and vacant, including icy heroine Dagny casually admitting, “I don’t know how to feel.” And then there’s Reardon, who admits, “My only goal is to make money.” What better antagonists than unfeeling heads of huge corporations who just want to be left alone so they can make their untold millions? What a great entry point for the empathy of the audience. None of these characters grow, change, learn, or even seem to reflect recognizable emotions beyond venom-filled anger. The villainous government stooges act shady, plotting the downfall of those laudable titans of industry, but it all just becomes indistinguishable chatter, villains clucking to themselves. Set in the near future of 2016, this adaptation feels strangely dated, most notably in its ascent of railroads. There’s some ham-handed throwaway line about the cost of gas being so high so America just reverted back to the good old locomotive. I find this deeply implausible. It would have made more sense to actually make this a 1950s period piece, the original setting of Rand’s novel. We’re constantly told about the instability in the world via newscasters and announcers, but we don’t ever see the effects of this world in crisis. Mostly that’s because we’re hobnobbing with the rich in their boardrooms and cocktail parties, but there’s a scene where Dagny exits her limo and walks in a huff down the streets, which are empty of those dirty hordes of bottom-dwellers we’ve been hearing about. Apparently a world in crisis has done little to upset the disadvantaged, or the cities have just been very adamant about cleaning up the riffraff. The world depicted does not seem realistic. Would the country so easily go back to train travel where Dagny’s super train can cross 200 miles in a single hour? What about international freight and travel? I guess that still has to run on all that precious petrol. I’d assume that by 2016 the world will still be an interdependent, globalized economy, so I would think that the United States would face more dramatic tension than the oversight over a railroad company.I’ve noticed that when it comes to a mostly conservative, mostly Christian fan base, the quality of movies is almost irrelevant. Movies like Left Behind, The Omega Code, Fireproof, or the recent Courageous are not expected to be good movies by traditional standards. They are sermons packaged in the guise of popular entertainment, which means that the artistic particulars come second to the message, and often do. Atlas Shrugged seems to fall into this same category. The production is very low budget, hence all those conversations in offices, and the CGI that is utilized looks pretty chintzy. The acting is profoundly bad, with Schilling (TV’s Mercy) giving a flat, monotone performance throughout, closer resembling a well-dressed mannequin than a human being. She is a horrible actress, resembling a bug-eyed Botox addict who has forgotten the correct muscles to express emotion. And naturally subtlety goes out the window in favor of reconfirming the belief system of the people buying the tickets. I have no issue with movies that adhere to an ideology, whatever that may be, as long as the message doesn’t get in the way of telling a good story. Atlas Shrugged is not a good story, not even close, and the message can be all too bludgeoning at times, like when Dagny incredulously remarks, “What’s with all these foolish altruistic notions?” The movie seems to be bristling with anger and many a character spits venom at the very idea of government involvement, unions demanding safe working conditions, and regulation in any form, red meat for the Tea Party faithful. Without that red meat, or the film’s strident message, there would be no reason to watch this mess. And now I’ll shed my objective reviewer cap briefly to get on my own little soapbox and denounce the dangers of Randian politics. To be fair, I’ve never read an Ayn Rand book and honestly have no inclination of ever reading one of this woman’s polemics. I just feel I have better uses of my time than reading a justification for sociopathic greed. Rand’s extreme philosophy has been described as reverse Marxism, wherein the social elite is being sucked dry by the lechers of the world, those who do not contribute to the value of society. And for Rand the only value is money. The world, Rand posits, would be a better place if man would only think of himself. I fundamentally disagree with this notion. Remember that part in the bible where Jesus gives money to the rich and tells the poor to suck it up? Rand’s self-involved philosophy seems like a round of consumerist Calvanism, rehashing a skewed religious perspective that was popular with the upper classes because it provided celestial reasoning why the rich were so rich and the poor were so poor. You see God wanted you to be rich, that is why you were born into a wealthy family, and he wanted all those miserable poor people to suffer. To help out the poor would therefore be blaspheming God’s infinitely unknowable plan. The basic plotline of Atlas Shrugged, though only teased in Part One, is that the rich will get tired of being burdened by societal constraints and up and leave us all. Here’s a good question: if all the billionaires in the world were to vanish, do you think everything would grind to a halt? Would we all be so out of luck without the super wealthy telling us what to buy? It’s like the reverse of 2006’s social satire A Day Without a Mexican, proposing that the American economic engine would be severely stalled if all the undocumented workers were to vanish. Under Rand’s narrow line of thinking, the rich are that way because they are the best and brightest, the innovators. Nowhere in that equation does Rand leave room for the rich being rich due to lies, cheating, nepotism, and rigging the system for the continued benefit of a select few. I’m not meaning to begin a screed here, but I think the 2008 economic meltdown proved what happens when business is left to regulate itself. The economic collapse also proved that just because you’ve got some letters in your title (CEO, CFO, etc.) does not mean you’re the smartest egg. Cronyism and a scoiopathic desire to look out for one’s self-interest above all else is what brought the world on the brink of economic collapse. For me, recent history is a rejection of Rand’s theories, not corroboration. Okay, soapbox put away. Atlas Shrugged the film seems almost like an unintended ironic statement on Ayn Rand’s belief of the superiority of the individual. That’s because movies are a profoundly collaborative medium, where many hands toil away to create a work of art. It is not the result of one man or woman but the results of hundreds of men and women working together, each knowing their role, playing their part, and working toward something greater than individual self-interest. Huh, how about that? It pretty much doesn’t matter that Atlas Shrugged is a powerfully boring, braying, incoherent, tedious chore that is merely a message disguised as a movie. The intended audiences will more than likely hail the final product, ignoring “details” like the talky exposition-heavy dialogue, horrible acting, laughable special effects, and plodding pacing, and overall poor production. The Rand faithful are not going to this movie to be entertained, they are going to see their beliefs reflected upon the big screen. The overall quality of Atlas Shrugged is an afterthought to them. I just wish it wasn’t an afterthought to the people making the movie. Nate’s Grade: D

Originally posted here:

Atlas Shrugged: Part I (2011) – Rotten Tomatoes

Atlas Shrugged Movie – About Atlas Shrugged

Joan CarterAssociate Producer

Vice President Atlas Productions, LLC

President Atlas Shrugged Movie Merchandise, LLC

Co-Founder/Owner UM Holdings Ltd.

Joan is immediate past President of the Union League of Philadelphia (voted #1 private club in the USA) – the first woman to hold such office in the League’s 150 years of existence. She also serves on the board of Penn Mutual Life Insurance company, Lourdes Health System, and her alma mater, The College of Wooster.

Joan is responsible for administration and the merchandise activities of Atlas Productions.

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Atlas Shrugged Movie – About Atlas Shrugged

Atlas Shrugged | Libertarianism Wiki | FANDOM powered by Wikia

This article is about the novel. For the film adaptations, see Atlas Shrugged: Part I or Atlas Shrugged: Part II.

Atlas Shrugged is a novel by Ayn Rand, first published in 1957 in the United States. Rand’s fourth and last novel, it was also her longest, and the one she considered to be her magnum opus in the realm of fiction writing.[4] Atlas Shrugged includes elements of romance,[1][2][3] mystery, and science fiction,[5] and it contains Rand’s most extensive statement of Objectivism in any of her works of fiction.

The book explores a dystopian United States where many of society’s most productive citizens refuse to be exploited by increasing taxation and government regulations and go on strike. The refusal evokes the imagery of what would happen if the mythological Atlas refused to continue to hold up the world. They are led by John Galt. Galt describes the strike as “stopping the motor of the world” by withdrawing the minds that drive society’s growth and productivity. In their efforts, these people “of the mind” hope to demonstrate that a world in which the individual is not free to create is doomed, that civilization cannot exist where every person is a slave to society and government, and that the destruction of the profit motive leads to the collapse of society. The protagonist, Dagny Taggart, sees society collapse around her as the government increasingly asserts control over all industry.

The novel’s title is a reference to Atlas, a Titan of Greek mythology, who in the novel is described as “the giant who holds the world on his shoulders”.[6] The significance of this reference is seen in a conversation between the characters Francisco d’Anconia and Hank Rearden, in which d’Anconia asks Rearden what sort of advice he would give to Atlas upon seeing that “the greater [the titan’s] effort, the heavier the world bore down on his shoulders”. With Rearden unable to answer, d’Anconia gives his own response: “To shrug”.

The theme of Atlas Shrugged, as Rand described it, is “the role of man’s mind in existence”. The book explores a number of philosophical themes that Rand would subsequently develop into the philosophy of Objectivism.[7][8] It advocates the core tenets of Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism and expresses her concept of human achievement. In doing so, it expresses many facets of Rand’s philosophy, such as the advocacy of reason, individualism, capitalism, and the failures of government coercion.

Atlas Shrugged received largely negative reviews after its 1957 publication, but achieved enduring popularity and consistent sales in the following decades.[9]

Rand referred to Atlas Shrugged as a mystery novel, “not about the murder of man’s body, but about the murder and rebirth of man’s spirit”.[10] Her stated goal for writing the text was “to show how desperately the world needs prime movers and how viciously it treats them” and to portray “what happens to a world without them”.[10] Nonetheless, when asked by film producer Albert S. Ruddy if a screenplay could focus on the love story, Rand agreed and said, “That’s all it ever was.”[1][2][3]

Rand remarked that the core idea for the book came to her after a 1943 telephone conversation with a friend, who asserted that Rand owed it to her readers to write a nonfiction book about her philosophy. Rand replied, “What if I went on strike? What if all the creative minds of the world went on strike?”[9] Rand then set out to create a work of fiction that explored the role of the mind in human life and the morality of rational self-interest,[11] by exploring the consequences when the people “of the mind” go on strike, refusing to allow their inventions, art, business leadership, scientific research, or new ideas to be taken from them by the government or by the rest of the world. The working title throughout her writing was The Strike, but Rand thought this title would have revealed the mystery element of the novel prematurely,[12] so she was pleased when her husband suggested Atlas Shrugged, previously the title of one of the chapters, as a better title for the book.[13]

To produce Atlas Shrugged, Rand conducted research on American industry, specifically the railroad industry, which forms a key element in her novel. Her previous work on a proposed (but never realized) screenplay based on the development of the atomic bomb, including her interviews of J. Robert Oppenheimer, was used in the portrait of the character Robert Stadler and the novel’s depiction of the development of “Project X”. To do further background research, Rand toured and inspected a number of industrial facilities, such as the Kaiser Steel plant, rode the locomotives of the New York Central Railroad, and even learned to operate the locomotive of the Twentieth Century Limited (and proudly reported that when operating it, “nobody touched a lever except me”).[9][14]

Rand’s self-identified literary influences include Victor Hugo, Fyodor Dostoyevsky, Edmond Rostand, and O. Henry.[15] In addition, Justin Raimondo has observed similarities between Atlas Shrugged and the 1922 novel The Driver, written by Garet Garrett,[16] which concerns an idealized industrialist named Henry Galt, who is a transcontinental railway owner trying to improve the world and fighting against government and socialism. In contrast, Chris Matthew Sciabarra found Raimondo’s “claims that Rand plagiarized… The Driver” to be “unsupported”,[17] and Stephan Kinsella doubts that Rand was in any way influenced by Garrett.[18] Writer Bruce Ramsey observed, “Both The Driver and Atlas Shrugged have to do with running railroads during an economic depression, and both suggest pro-capitalist ways in which the country might get out of the depression. But in plot, character, tone, and theme they are very different.”[19]

To persuade Rand to publish her novel with Random House, publisher Bennet Cerf proposed a “philosophic contest” in which Rand would submit her work to various publishers to judge their response to its ideas, so she could evaluate who might best promote her work.[20] Because of the success of Rand’s 1943 novel The Fountainhead, the initial print run was 100,000 copies. It marked a turning point in her life, ending her career as novelist and beginning her tenure as a popular philosopher.[21]

Atlas Shrugged is set in an alternative dystopian United States at an unspecified time, in which the country has a “National Legislature” instead of Congress and a “Head of State” instead of President. Writer Edward Younkins noted, “The story may be simultaneously described as anachronistic and timeless. The pattern of industrial organization appears to be that of the late 1800s the mood seems to be close to that of the depression-era 1930s. Both the social customs and the level of technology remind one of the 1950s.”[22] Many early 20th-century technologies are available, and the steel and railroad industries are especially significant; jet planes are described as a relatively new technology, and television is a novelty significantly less influential than radio. While many other countries are mentioned in passing, there is no mention of the Soviet Union, no reference to World War II or the Cold War. It is implied that the countries of the world are converting to big government statism, along vaguely Marxist lines, in references to “People’s States” in Europe and South America. Plot elements also refer to nationalization of businesses in these “People’s States”, as well as in America. The “mixed economy” of the book’s present is often contrasted with the “pure” capitalism of 19th century America, wistfully recalled as a lost Golden Age.

The novel is divided into three parts consisting of ten chapters each. Robert James Bidinotto noted “the titles of the parts and chapters suggest multiple layers of meaning. The three parts, for example, are named in honor of Aristotle’s laws of logic… Part One is titled ‘Non-Contradiction’… Part Two, titled ‘Either-Or’… [and] Part Three is titled ‘A Is A,’ a reference to ‘the Law of Identity’.”[23]

Template:See alsoAs the novel opens, protagonist Dagny Taggart, the Operating Vice President of Taggart Transcontinental, a giant railroad company originally pioneered by her grandfather, attempts to keep the company alive during difficult economic times marked by collectivism and statism. While Dagny runs the company from behind the scenes, her brother, James Taggart, the railroad’s President, is peripherally aware of the company’s troubles, but will not make any difficult choices, preferring to avoid responsibility for any actions while watching his company go under. He seems to make irrational decisions, such as preferring to buy steel from Orren Boyle’s Associated Steel, rather than Hank Rearden’s Rearden Steel, despite the former continually delaying delivery of vital rail. In this as in other decisions, Dagny simply goes ahead with her own policy and challenges him to repeal it. As this unfolds, Dagny is disappointed to discover that Francisco d’Anconia, a true genius and her only childhood friend, first love, and king of the copper industry, appears to have become a worthless playboy who is destroying his family’s international copper company, which has made him into one of the richest and most powerful men in the world.

Hank Rearden, a self-made steel magnate of great integrity, has recently developed a metal alloy called Rearden Metal, now the strongest and most reliable metal in the world. Hank chooses to keep the instructions to its creation a secret, sparking jealousy and uproar among competitors. False claims are made about the danger of the alloy and are backed by government agencies. As a result of this, pressure is put on Dagny to use conventional steel, but she refuses. Hank’s career is hindered by his feelings of obligation toward his manipulative wife, mother, and ungrateful younger brother, who show no appreciation for everything he provides for them. Dagny also becomes acquainted with Wesley Mouch, a Washington lobbyist initially working for Rearden, whom he betrays. Mouch eventually leads the government’s efforts in controlling all commerce and enterprise, intentionally destroying the common man’s opportunity to build a largely successful, free-market business. The reader also becomes acquainted with Ellis Wyatt, the sole founder and supervisor of the successful enterprise Wyatt Oil. He is a young, self-possessed, hard-working man one of the few men still loyal to Dagny and Hank’s efforts in pushing for a system of business free of government meddling and control.

While economic conditions worsen and government agencies continue to enforce their control on successful businesses, the nave, yet weary mass of citizens are often heard reciting the new, popular street phrase, “Who is John Galt?” This sarcastic phrase is given in response to what tend to be sincere questions about heavy subjects, wherein the individual can find no answer. It sarcastically means, “Don’t ask important questions, because we don’t have answers”, or more broadly, “What’s the point?” or “Why bother?”

Dagny begins to notice the nation’s brightest innovators and business leaders abruptly disappearing, one by one, under mysterious circumstances, all leaving their top industrial businesses to certain failure. The most recent of these leaders to have vanished is Dagny’s friend Ellis Wyatt, who, like the others, has suddenly disappeared into thin air with no warning, leaving nothing behind except an empty office and his most successful oil well now spewing petroleum and fire high into the air (later to be named “Wyatt’s Torch”). Each of these men proves to be absent despite a thorough search put on by ever-anxious politicians, who have now found themselves trapped within a government that has been “left to dry”, by its leaders in business utterly helpless without them.

In a romantic subplot, Dagny and Hank fall deeply in love. Rand refers to their love as a purer kind of love than the one that most men and women experience. These two people have a similar purpose in life, and they see in each other a kindred soul. In the universe of the novel, men and women with purpose are rare and, to an extent, deified thus making their love especially sacred. Hank (who is still married to another woman) goes on vacation with Dagny on a drive across the United States. They discover, amongst the ruins of an abandoned factory, an incomplete motor that transforms atmospheric static electricity into kinetic electricity. Deeply moved by the significance of a motor which has the potential to completely transform the world, Dagny sets out to find the inventor.

In addition to the inventor of the motor, Dagny also makes it her mission to find the reason so many important people keep disappearing. These two quests converge when Dagny flies to Utah to speak with a scientist she has working on reverse-engineering the motor. While still at the airfield, she discovers the scientist has just flown off with a mysterious man. Dagny follows the plane to where it mysteriously disappears, eventually crash-landing through a “ray screen” used to hide Galt’s Gulch – the hidden Atlantis where John Galt has been bringing those he recruits. John Galt proceeds to explain the series of events which led to an organized “strike” against those who use the force of law and moral guilt to confiscate the accomplishments of society’s productive members.

Unable to give up her railroad to destruction, Dagny leaves the valley as soon as she can. As the nation is collapsing, Galt follows Dagny back to New York City (where she learns he has been working in plain sight for her railroad as a lowly laborer), where he hacks into a national radio broadcast to deliver a long speech to the people (70 pages in the first edition), serving to explain the novel’s theme and Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism.[24] As the government begins to collapse following Galt’s message, the leaders decide the only way to restore order is to capture Galt and force him to save them. While they succeed in following Dagny to him and subsequently taking him prisoner, they are unable to turn Galt, who is eventually freed in a rescue mission by a group of friends. While they are flying back to their hidden valley, they see the lights go out in New York City – the indication that their mission has been completed. The novel closes with a brief section where the strikers complete their preparations and Galt announces that they will return to the world.

The story of Atlas Shrugged dramatically expresses Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism: Rand’s ethical egoism, her advocacy of “rational selfishness”, is perhaps her most well-known position. For Rand, all of the principal virtues and vices are applications of the role of reason as man’s basic tool of survival (or a failure to apply it): rationality, honesty, justice, independence, integrity, productiveness, and pride each of which she explains in some detail in “The Objectivist Ethics”.[25] Rand’s characters often personify her view of the archetypes of various schools of philosophy for living and working in the world. Robert James Bidinotto wrote, “Rand rejected the literary convention that depth and plausibility demand characters who are naturalistic replicas of the kinds of people we meet in everyday life, uttering everyday dialogue and pursuing everyday values. But she also rejected the notion that characters should be symbolic rather than realistic.”[23] and Rand herself stated, “My characters are never symbols, they are merely men in sharper focus than the audience can see with unaided sight. … My characters are persons in whom certain human attributes are focused more sharply and consistently than in average human beings.”[23]

In addition to the plot’s more obvious statements about the significance of industrialists to society, and the sharp contrast it provides to the Marxist version of exploitation and the labor theory of value, this explicit conflict is used by Rand to draw wider philosophical conclusions, both implicit in the plot and via the characters’ own statements. Atlas Shrugged portrays fascism, socialism and communism any form of state intervention in society as systemically and fatally flawed. In addition, positions are expressed on a variety of other topics, including sex, politics, friendship, charity, childhood, and many others. Rand said it is not a fundamentally political book, but a demonstration of the individual mind’s position and value in society.[26]

Rand argues that independence and individual achievement enable society to survive and thrive, and should be embraced. But this requires a rational moral code. She argues that, over time, coerced self-sacrifice must cause any society to self-destruct.

Similarly, Rand rejects faith (that “short-cut to knowledge”, she writes in the novel, which in fact is only a “short-circuit” destroying knowledge), along with any sort of a god or higher being. Rand urges the rejection of anything claiming “authority” over one’s own mind apart from the absolute of existence, itself. The book positions itself against religion specifically, often directly within the characters’ dialogue.

The concept “sanction of the victim” is defined by Leonard Peikoff as “the willingness of the good to suffer at the hands of the evil, to accept the role of sacrificial victim for the ‘sin’ of creating values”.[27] Rand holds that evil is a parasite on the good and can only exist if the good tolerates it. Atlas Shrugged can be seen as an answer to the question of what would happen if this sanction were revoked. When Atlas shrugs, relieving himself of the burden of carrying the world, he is revoking his sanction.

Throughout Atlas Shrugged, numerous characters admit there is something wrong with the world that they cannot identify; frequently, they are struggling with the idea of sanction of the victim. We first glimpse the concept when Hank Rearden feels he is duty-bound to support his family, despite their hostility towards him; later, the principle is stated explicitly by Dan Conway: “I suppose somebody’s got to be sacrificed. If it turned out to be me, I have no right to complain.” John Galt vows to stop the motor of the world by persuading the creators of the world to withhold their sanction: “Evil is impotent and has no power but that which we let it extort from us”, and, “I saw that evil was impotent… and the only weapon of its triumph was the willingness of the good to serve it”.

In Rand’s view, morality requires we do not sanction our own victimhood. She assigns virtue to the trait of rational self-interest. However, Rand contends moral selfishness does not mean a license to do whatever one pleases, guided by whims. It means the exacting discipline of defining and pursuing one’s rational self-interest. A code of rational self-interest rejects every form of human sacrifice, whether of oneself to others or of others to oneself.

Atlas Shrugged endorses the belief that a society’s best hope rests on adopting a system of pure laissez-faire. Rand’s view of the ideal government is expressed by John Galt, who says, “The political system we will build is contained in a single moral premise: no man may obtain any values from others by resorting to physical force”, and claims that “no rights can exist without the right to translate one’s rights into reality to think, to work and to keep the results which means: the right of property”. Galt himself lives a life of laissez-faire capitalism as the only way to live consistently with his beliefs.

In the world of Atlas Shrugged, society stagnates when independent productive achievers are socially demonized and even punished for their accomplishments.[28] Independence and personal happiness had flourished to the extent that people were free, and achievement was rewarded to the extent that individual ownership of private property was strictly respected. This is in line with an excerpt from a 1964 interview with Playboy magazine in which Rand states “What we have today is not a capitalist society, but a mixed economy that is, a mixture of freedom and controls, which, by the presently dominant trend, is moving toward dictatorship. The action in Atlas Shrugged takes place at a time when society has reached the stage of dictatorship. When and if this happens, that will be the time to go on strike, but not until then.”[29]

Rand characterizes the actions of government employees in a way that is consistent with public choice theory, describing how the language of altruism is used to pass legislation that is nominally in the public interest (e.g., the “Anti-Dog-Eat-Dog Rule”, and “The Equalization of Opportunity Bill”) but which in reality serves special interests and government agencies at the expense of the public and the producers of value.[30]

“Run for your life from any man who tells you that money is evil. That sentence is the leper’s bell of an approaching looter.”[31]

Francisco d’Anconia, Atlas Shrugged

Rand’s heroes must continually fight against “parasites”, “looters”, and “moochers” who demand the benefits of the heroes’ labor. Edward Younkins describes Atlas Shrugged as “an apocalyptic vision of the last stages of conflict between two classes of humanity the looters and the non-looters. The looters are proponents of high taxation, big labor, government ownership, government spending, government planning, regulation, and redistribution.”[32]

“Looters” confiscate others’ earnings by force (“at the point of a gun”) and include government officials, whose demands are backed by the implicit threat of force. Some officials are merely executing government policy, such as those who confiscate one state’s seed grain to feed the starving citizens of another; others are exploiting those policies, such as the railroad regulator who illegally sells the railroad’s supplies for his own profit. Both use force to take property from the people who produced or earned it.

“Moochers” demand others’ earnings on behalf of the needy and those unable to earn themselves; however, they curse the producers who make that help possible and are jealous and resentful of the talented upon whom they depend. They are ultimately as destructive as the looters destroying the productive through guilt, and appealing to “moral right” while enabling the “lawful” looting performed by governments.

Looting and mooching are seen at all levels of the world Atlas Shrugged portrays, from the looting officials Dagny Taggart must work around and the mooching brother Hank Rearden struggles with, to the looting of whole industries by companies like Associated Steel and the mooching demands for foreign aid by the starving countries of Europe.

One of the novel’s heroes, Francisco d’Anconia, indicates the role of “looters” in relation to money itself:

“So you think that money is the root of all evil?… Have you ever asked what is the root of money? Money is a tool of exchange, which can’t exist unless there are goods produced and men able to produce them. Money is the material shape of the principle that men who wish to deal with one another must deal by trade and give value for value. Money is not the tool of the moochers, who claim your product by tears, or the looters who take it from you by force. Money is made possible only by the men who produce. Is this what you consider evil? …Not an ocean of tears nor all the guns in the world can transform those pieces of paper in your wallet into bread you need to survive tomorrow. …Whenever destroyers appear among men, they start by destroying money, for money is men’s protection and the base of a moral existence. Destroyers seize gold and leave its owners a counterfeit pile of paper. This kills all objective standards and delivers men into the arbitrary power of an arbitrary setter of values… Paper is a mortgage on wealth that does not exist, backed by a gun aimed at those who are expected to produce it. Paper is a check drawn by legal looters upon an account which is not theirs: upon the virtue of the victims. Watch for the day when it bounces, marked: ‘Account Overdrawn.'”[31]

“Through Dagny’s associations… Rand illustrates what a relationship between two self-actualized, equal human beings can be… Rand denies the existence of a split between the physical and the mental, the desires of the flesh and the longings of the spirit.”[33]

In Atlas Shrugged, characters are sexually attracted to those who embody or seem to embody their values, be they higher or lower values by Rand’s standards. Characters who lack clear purpose find sex devoid of meaning. This is illustrated in the contrasting relationships of Hank Rearden with Lillian Rearden and Dagny Taggart, by the relationships of James Taggart with Cherryl Brooks and with Lillian Rearden, and finally in the relationship between Dagny and John Galt.

Adultery is committed by three characters throughout the course of the novel. The first and predominate act is that of Hank Rearden, who sleeps with Dagny after the opening of the John Galt Line, to celebrate the success of his metal and her determination to have the line built. The affair continues for some time – even including a cross-country vacation for the two – until Hank’s wife finds out; his wife does not want to divorce him, but instead wants to maintain her image as Mrs. Rearden and allows the affair to continue until Hank manipulates the judicial system to obtain a divorce. Later in the novel, as Mrs. Rearden knows the divorce will be processed shortly, she has sex with Dagny’s brother James (who is also married, and despises Hank), as an act of revenge for them both against him. Having caught them, James’ wife proceeds to commit suicide. Yet adultery is never addressed on moral grounds; the sex is addressed on its own, either as celebration of accomplishment or as an act of revenge.

Technological progress and intellectual breakthroughs in scientific theory both figure prominently in Atlas Shrugged, leading some observers to classify Atlas in the genre of science fiction. Writer Jeff Riggenbach notes, “Galt’s motor is one of the three inventions that propel the action of Atlas Shrugged”, the other two being Rearden Metal and the government’s sonic weapon, Project X.[34] Other fictional technologies included in the story are refractor rays (Gulch mirage), a sophisticated electrical torture device (the Ferris Persuader), voice activated door locks (Gulch power station), palm-activated door locks (Galt’s New York lab), Galt’s means of quietly turning the entire contents of his laboratory into a fine powder when a lock is breached, and a means of taking over all radio stations worldwide. Riggenbach adds, “Rand’s overall message with regard to science seems clear: the role of science in human life and human society is to provide the knowledge on the basis of which technological advancement and the related improvements in the quality of human life can be realized. But science can fulfill this role only in a society in which human beings are left free to conduct their business as they see fit.”[35]

Atlas Shrugged debuted on The New York Times Bestseller List at #13 three days after its publication. It peaked at #3 on December 8, 1957, and was on the list for 22 consecutive weeks.[9]

“Both conservatives and liberals were unstinting in disparaging the book; the right saw promotion of godlessness, and the left saw a message of greed is good. Rand is said to have cried every day as the reviews came out.”

Atlas Shrugged was generally disliked by critics, despite being a popular success. The book was dismissed by some as “a homage to greed”, while author Gore Vidal described its philosophy as “nearly perfect in its immorality”.[10] Helen Beal Woodward, reviewing Atlas Shrugged for The Saturday Review, opined that the novel was written with “dazzling virtuosity” but that it was “shot through with hatred”.[36] This was echoed by Granville Hicks, writing for The New York Times Book Review, who also stated that the book was “written out of hate”.[37] The reviewer for Time magazine asked: “Is it a novel? Is it a nightmare? Is it Superman in the comic strip or the Nietzschean version?”[38] In the magazine National Review, Whittaker Chambers called Atlas Shrugged “sophomoric” and “remarkably silly”, and said it “can be called a novel only by devaluing the term”.[39] Chambers argued against the novel’s implicit endorsement of atheism, whereby “Randian man, like Marxian man is made the center of a godless world”.[39] Chambers also wrote that the implicit message of the novel is akin to “Hitler’s National Socialism and Stalin’s brand of Communism” (“To a gas chamber go!”).[39]

The negative reviews produced responses from some of Rand’s admirers, including a letter by Alan Greenspan to The New York Times Book Review, in which he responded to Hicks’ claim that “the book was written out of hate” by saying, “…Atlas Shrugged is a celebration of life and happiness. Justice is unrelenting. Creative individuals and undeviating purpose and rationality achieve joy and fulfillment. Parasites who persistently avoid either purpose or reason perish as they should.”[40] Greenspan had read unpublished drafts of the work in Rand’s salon at least three years earlier.[41] In an unpublished[42] letter to the National Review, Leonard Peikoff wrote, “…Mr. Chambers is an ex-Communist. He has attacked Atlas Shrugged in the best tradition of the Communists by lies, smears, and cowardly misrepresentations. Mr. Chambers may have changed a few of his political views; he has not changed the method of intellectual analysis and evaluation of the Party to which he belonged.”

Positive reviews appeared in a number of publications. Richard McLaughlin, reviewing the novel for The American Mercury, compared it to Uncle Tom’s Cabin in importance.[43] Well-known journalist and book reviewer John Chamberlain, writing in The New York Herald Tribune, found Atlas Shrugged satisfying on many levels: science fiction, a “Dostoevsky” detective story and, most importantly, a “profound political parable”.[44][45] However, Mimi Reisel Gladstein writes that reviewers who have “appreciated not only Rand’s writing style but also her message” have been “far outweighed by those who have been everything from hysterically hostile to merely uncomprehending”.[46]

Former Rand friend, associate, business partner and lover Nathaniel Branden, to whom the book was originally dedicated, has had differing views of Atlas Shrugged in his life. He was initially quite favorable to it, praising it in the book he and Barbara Branden wrote in 1962 called Who is Ayn Rand?[47] After he and Ayn Rand ended their relationship in 1968, both he and Barbara Branden repudiated their book in praise of Rand and her novels.[48] As of 1971 though, in an interview he gave to “Reason” he listed some critiques, but concluded, “But what the hell, so there are a few things one can quarrel with in the book, so what? ATLAS SHRUGGED is the greatest novel that has ever been written, in my judgment, so let’s let it go at that.”[49]

But years later, in 1984, two years after Rand’s death, he argued that Atlas Shrugged “encourages emotional repression and self-disowning” and that her works contained contradictory messages. Branden claimed that the characters rarely talk “on a simple, human level without launching into philosophical sermons”. He criticized the potential psychological impact of the novel, stating that John Galt’s recommendation to respond to wrongdoing with “contempt and moral condemnation” clashes with the view of psychologists who say this only causes the wrongdoing to repeat itself.[50] Rand herself, however, would not have regarded a novel as needing to portray such “ordinary” human interaction at all, even if an entire philosophy of life does need to address this.[51]

Template:DetailsOver the years, Atlas Shrugged has attracted an energetic and committed fan base. Each year the Ayn Rand Institute donates 400,000 copies of works by Ayn Rand, including Atlas Shrugged, to high school students.[10] According to a 1991 survey done for the Library of Congress and the Book of the Month Club, Atlas Shrugged was situated between the Bible and M. Scott Peck’s The Road Less Traveled as the book that made the most difference in the lives of 5,000 Book-of-the-Month club members surveyed, with a “large gap existing between the #1 book and the rest of the list”.[52] Modern Library’s 1998 nonscientific online poll of the 100 best novels of the 20th century[53][54] found Atlas rated #1 although it was not included on the list chosen by the Modern Library board of authors and scholars.[55]

In 1997, the libertarian Cato Institute held a joint conference with The Atlas Society, an Objectivist organization, to celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the publication of Atlas Shrugged.[56] At this event, Howard Dickman of Reader’s Digest stated that the novel had “turned millions of readers on to the ideas of liberty” and said that the book had the important message of the readers’ “profound right to be happy”.[56]

The C-SPAN television series American Writers listed Rand as one of twenty-two surveyed figures of American literature, though primarily mentioning The Fountainhead rather than Atlas Shrugged.[57]

Rand’s impact on contemporary libertarian thought has been considerable, and it is noteworthy that the title of the leading libertarian magazine, Reason: Free Minds, Free Markets, is taken directly from John Galt, the hero of Atlas Shrugged, who argues that “a free mind and a free market are corollaries”.

The Austrian School economist Ludwig von Mises admired the unapologetic elitism of Rand’s work. In a private letter to Rand written a few months after the novel’s publication, he declared, “…Atlas Shrugged is not merely a novel. It is also (or may I say: first of all) a cogent analysis of the evils that plague our society, a substantiated rejection of the ideology of our self-styled “intellectuals” and a pitiless unmasking of the insincerity of the policies adopted by governments and political parties… You have the courage to tell the masses what no politician told them: you are inferior and all the improvements in your conditions which you simply take for granted you owe to the efforts of men who are better than you.”[58]

Acclaim has not been unanimous. Nobel Prize-winning economist and liberal commentator Paul Krugman alluded to an oft-quoted quip[59] by John Rogers in his blog: “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”[60]

“I know from talking to a lot of Fortune 500 C.E.O.’s that Atlas Shrugged has had a significant effect on their business decisions, even if they don’t agree with all of Ayn Rand’s ideas.”

In the late 2000s, the book gained more media attention and conservative commentators suggested the book as a warning against a socialistic reaction to the finance crisis. Conservative commentators Neal Boortz,[61] Glenn Beck, and Rush Limbaugh[62] have offered high praise of the book on their respective radio and television programs. In 2006 Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Clarence Thomas cited Atlas Shrugged as among his favorite novels.[63] Republican Congressman John Campbell said for example: “People are starting to feel like we’re living through the scenario that happened in [the novel]… We’re living in Atlas Shrugged”, echoing Stephen Moore in an article published in The Wall Street Journal on January 9, 2009, titled “Atlas Shrugged From Fiction to Fact in 52 Years”.[64]

The sales of Atlas Shrugged have since then sharply increased, according to The Economist magazine and The New York Times. The Economist reported that the fifty-two-year-old novel ranked #33 among Amazon.com’s top-selling books on January 13, 2009 and that its thirty day sales average showed the novel selling three times faster than during the same period of the previous year. With an attached sales chart, The Economist reported that sales “spikes” of the book seemed to coincide with the release of economic data. Subsequently, on April 2, 2009, Atlas Shrugged ranked #1 in the “Fiction and Literature” category at Amazon and #15 in overall sales.[65][66][67] Total sales of the novel in 2009 exceeded 500,000 copies.[68] The book sold 445,000 copies in 2011, the second-strongest sales year in the novel’s history. At the time of publication the novel was on the New York Times best-seller list and was selling at roughly a third the volume of 2011.[69]

A film adaptation of Atlas Shrugged was in “development hell” for nearly 40 years.[70] In 1972, Albert S. Ruddy approached Rand to produce a cinematic adaptation. Rand agreed that Ruddy could focus on the love story. “That’s all it ever was,” Rand said.[1][2][3] Rand insisted on having final script approval, which Ruddy refused to give her, thus preventing a deal. In 1978, Henry and Michael Jaffe negotiated a deal for an eight-hour Atlas Shrugged television miniseries on NBC. Michael Jaffe hired screenwriter Stirling Silliphant to adapt the novel and he obtained approval from Rand on the final script. However, in 1979, with Fred Silverman’s rise as president of NBC, the project was scrapped.[71]

Rand, a former Hollywood screenwriter herself, began writing her own screenplay, but died in 1982 with only one-third of it finished. She left her estate, including the film rights to Atlas, to her student Leonard Peikoff, who sold an option to Michael Jaffe and Ed Snider. Peikoff would not approve the script they wrote, and the deal fell through. In 1992, investor John Aglialoro bought an option to produce the film, paying Peikoff over $1 million for full creative control.[71]

In 1999, under Aglialoro’s sponsorship, Ruddy negotiated a deal with Turner Network Television (TNT) for a four-hour miniseries, but the project was killed after the AOL Time Warner merger. After the TNT deal fell through Howard and Karen Baldwin obtained the rights while running Phillip Anschutz’s Crusader Entertainment. The Baldwins left Crusader and formed Baldwin Entertainment Group in 2004, taking the rights to Atlas Shrugged with them. Michael Burns of Lions Gate Entertainment approached the Baldwins to fund and distribute Atlas Shrugged.[71] A draft screenplay was written by James V. Hart[72] and re-written by Randall Wallace,[73] but was never produced.

In May 2010, Brian Patrick O’Toole and Aglialoro wrote a screenplay, intent on filming in June 2010. Stephen Polk was set to direct.[74] However, Polk was fired and principal photography began on June 13, 2010 under the direction of Paul Johansson and produced by Harmon Kaslow and Aglialoro.[75] This resulted in Aglialoro’s retention of his rights to the property, which were set to expire on June 15, 2010. Filming was completed on July 20, 2010,[76] and the movie was released on April 15, 2011.[77] Dagny Taggart was played by Taylor Schilling and Hank Rearden by Grant Bowler.[78]

The film was met with a generally negative reception from professional critics, getting an 11% (rotten) rating, however audience and user reviews rate it at a 74% rating, on movie review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes,[79] and had less than $5 million in total box office receipts.[80] The producer and screenwriter John Aglialoro blamed critics for the film’s paltry box office take and said he might go on strike.[81]

However, on February 2, 2012, Kaslow and Aglialoro announced Atlas Shrugged: Part II was fully funded and that principal photography was tentatively scheduled to commence in early April 2012.[82] The film was released on October 12, 2012.[83] Critics gave the film a 5% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 19 reviews, while audiences gave the film an 84% rating.[84] Film critics were not impressed with the film based on several reviews: one reviewer gave the film a “D” rating;[85] while another reviewer gave the film a “1” rating (of 4).[86]

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About Atlas Shrugged – CliffsNotes

Introduction

Atlas Shrugged is Ayn Rand’s masterpiece and the culmination of her career as a novelist. With its publication in 1957, the author accomplished everything she wanted to in the realm of fiction; the rest of her career as a writer was devoted to nonfiction. Rand was already a famous, best-selling author by the time she published Atlas Shrugged. With the success of The Fountainhead a decade earlier and its subsequent production as a Hollywood film starring Gary Cooper in 1949, her stature as an author was established. Publishers knew that her fiction would sell, and consequently they bid for the right to publish her next book.

Atlas Shrugged, although enormously controversial, had no difficulty finding a publisher. On the contrary, Rand conducted an intellectual auction among competing publishers, finally deciding on Random House because its editorial staff had the best understanding of the book. Bennett Cerf was a famous editor there. When Rand explained that, at one level, Atlas Shrugged was to provide a moral defense of capitalism, the editorial staff responded, “But that would mean challenging 3,000 years of Judeo-Christian tradition.” Their depth of philosophical insight impressed Ayn Rand, and she decided that Random House was the company to publish her book.

Atlas Shrugged furthers the theme of individualism that Ayn Rand developed in The Fountainhead. In The Fountainhead, she shows by means of its hero, the innovative architect Howard Roark, that the independent mind is responsible for all human progress and prosperity. In Atlas Shrugged, she shows that without the independent mind, our society would collapse into primitive savagery. Atlas Shrugged is an impassioned defense of the freedom of man’s mind. But to understand the author’s sense of urgency, we must have an idea of the context in which the book was written. This includes both the post-World War II Cold War and the broader trends of modern intellectual culture.

The Cold War and Collectivism

Twentieth-century culture spawned the most oppressive dictatorships in human history. The Fascists in Italy, the National Socialists (Nazis) in Germany, and the Communists first in Russia and later in China and elsewhere seriously threatened individual freedom throughout the world. Ayn Rand lived through the heart of this terrifying historical period. In fact, when she started writing Atlas Shrugged in 1946, the West had just achieved victory over the Nazis. For years, the specter of national socialism had haunted the world, exterminating millions of innocent people, enslaving millions more, and threatening the freedom of the entire globe. The triumph of the free countries of the West over Naziism was achieved at an enormous cost in human life. However, it left the threat of communism unabated.

Ayn Rand was born in Russia in 1905 and witnessed firsthand the Bolshevik Revolution, the Communist conquest of Russia, and the political oppression that followed. Even after her escape from the Soviet Union and her safe arrival in the United States, she kept in close touch with family members who remained there. But when the murderous policies of Joseph Stalin swallowed the Soviet Union, she lost track of her family. From her own life experiences, Ayn Rand knew the brutal oppression of Communist tyranny.

During the last days of World War II and in the years immediately following, communism conquered large portions of the world. Soviet armies first rolled through the countries of Eastern Europe, setting up Russian “satellite” nations in East Germany, Poland, Hungary, Romania, and elsewhere. Communists then came to power in China and North Korea and launched an invasion of South Korea. Shortly thereafter, communism was also dominant in Cuba, on America’s doorstep. In the 1940s and 1950s, communism was an expanding military power, threatening to engulf the free world.

This time period was the height of the Cold War the ideological battle between the United States and the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union ruled its empire in Eastern Europe by means of terror, brutally suppressing an uprising by Hungarian freedom fighters in 1956. The Russians developed the atomic bomb and amassed huge armies in Eastern Europe, threatening the free nations of the West. Speaking at the United Nations, Soviet dictator Nikita Khrushchev vowed that communism would “bury” the West. Like the Nazis in the 1930s, communists stood for a collectivist political system: one in which an individual is morally obliged to sacrifice himself for the state. Intellectual freedom and individual rights, cherished in the United States and other Western countries, were in grave danger.

Foreign military power was not the only way in which communism threatened U.S. freedom. Collectivism was an increasingly popular political philosophy among American intellectuals and politicians. In the 1930s, both national socialism and communism had supporters among American thinkers, businessmen, politicians, and labor leaders. The full horror of Naziism was revealed during World War II, and support for national socialism dwindled in the United States as a result. But communism, in the form of Marxist political ideology, survived World War II in the United States. Many American professors, writers, journalists, and politicians continued to advocate Marxist principles. When Ayn Rand was writing Atlas Shrugged, many Americans strongly believed that the government should have the power to coercively redistribute income and to regulate private industry. The capitalist system of political and economic freedom was consistently attacked by socialists and welfare statists. The belief that an individual has a right to live his own life was replaced, to a significant extent, by the collectivist idea that individuals must work and live in service to other people. Individual rights and political freedom were threatened in American politics, education, and culture.

An Appeal for Freedom

Rand argues in Atlas Shrugged that the freedom of American society is responsible for its greatest achievements. For example, in the nineteenth century, inventors and entrepreneurs created an outpouring of innovations that raised the standard of living to unprecedented heights and changed forever the way people live. Rand, who thoroughly researched the history of capitalism, was well aware of the progress made during this period of economic freedom. Samuel Morse invented the telegraph a device later improved by Thomas Edison, who went on to invent the phonograph, the electric light, and the motion picture projector. John Roebling perfected the suspension bridge and, just before his death, designed his masterpiece, the Brooklyn Bridge. Henry Ford revolutionized the transportation industry by mass-producing automobiles, a revolution that the Wright Brothers carried to the next level with their invention of the airplane. Railroad builders like Cornelius Vanderbilt and James J. Hill established inexpensive modes of transportation and opened up the Pacific Northwest to economic development.

Likewise, Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone during this era, Cyrus McCormick the reaper, and Elias Howe the sewing machine. Charles Goodyear discovered the vulcanization process that made rubber useful, and George Eastman revolutionized photography with the invention of a new type of camera the Kodak. George Washington Carver, among myriad agricultural accomplishments, developed peanuts and sweet potatoes into leading crops. Architects like Louis Sullivan and William LeBaron Jenney created the skyscraper, and George Westinghouse, the inventor of train airbrakes, developed a power system able to transmit electricity over great distances. The penniless Scottish immigrant Andrew Carnegie built a vast company manufacturing steel, and John D. Rockefeller did the same in the oil industry.

These are a few examples from an exhaustive list of advances in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Ayn Rand argues that economic freedom liberated these great creative thinkers, permitting them to put into practice new ideas and methods. But what would happen if economic freedom were lost?

Atlas Shrugged provides Ayn Rand’s answer to this question. In the story, she projects the culmination of America’s twentieth-century socialist trend. The U.S. government portrayed in the story has significant control over the domestic economy. The rest of the world has been swallowed up by communist “Peoples’ States” and subsists in abject poverty. A limited degree of economic freedom still exists in America, but it is steadily declining, as is American prosperity. The successful are heavily taxed to support the poor, and the American poor are similarly levied to finance the even poorer people in foreign Peoples’ States. The government subsidizes inefficient businesses at the expense of the more efficient. With the state controlling large portions of the economy, the result is the rise of corrupt businessmen who seek profit by manipulating crooked politicians rather than by doing productive work. The government forces inventors to give up their patents so that all manufacturers may benefit equally from new products. Similarly, the government breaks up productive companies, compelling them to share the market with weaker (less efficient) competitors. In short, the fictionalized universe of Atlas Shrugged presents a future in which the U.S. trend toward socialism has been accelerated. Twentieth-century realities such as heavy taxation, massive social welfare programs, tight governmental regulation of industry, and antitrust action against successful companies are heightened in the universe of this story. The government annuls the rights of American citizens, and freedom is steadily eroded. The United States of the novel the last bastion of liberty on earth rapidly becomes a fascist/communist dictatorship.

The result, in Rand’s fictional universe, is a collapse of American prosperity. Great minds are shackled by government policies, and their innovations are either rejected or expropriated by the state. Thinkers lack the freedom necessary to create new products, to start their own companies, to compete openly, and to earn wealth. Under the increasing yoke of tyranny, the most independent minds in American society choose to defend their liberty in the most effective manner possible: They withdraw from society.

The Mind on Strike

Atlas Shrugged is a novel about a strike. Ayn Rand sets out to show the fate that befalls the world when the thinkers and creators go on strike. The author raises an intriguing question: What would happen if the scientists, medical researchers, inventors, industrialists, writers, artists, and so on withheld their minds and their achievements from the world?

In this novel, Rand argues that all human progress and prosperity depend on rational thinking. For example, human beings have cured such diseases as malaria, polio, dysentery, cholera, diphtheria, and tuberculosis. Man has learned to fly, erect cities and skyscrapers, grow an abundant food supply, and create computers. Humans have been to the moon and back and have invented the telephone, radio, television, and a thousand other life-promoting technologies. All of these achievements result from the human application of a rational mind to practical questions of survival. If the intellectuals responsible for such advances abandon the world, regression to the primitive conditions of the Dark Ages would result. But what would motivate intellectuals to such an extreme act as going on strike? We are used to hearing about strikes that protest conditions considered oppressive or intolerable by workers. The thinkers go on strike in Atlas Shrugged to protest the oppression of their intellect and creativity.

The thinkers in Atlas Shrugged strike on behalf of individual rights and political freedom. They strike against an enforced moral code of self-sacrifice the creed that human life must be devoted to serving the needs of others. Above all, the thinkers strike to prove that reason is the only means by which man can understand reality and make proper decisions; emotions should not guide human behavior. In short, the creative minds are on strike in support of a person’s right to think and live independently.

In the novel, the withdrawal of the great thinkers causes the collapse of the American economy and the end of dictatorship. The strike proves the role that the rational mind plays in the attainment of progress and prosperity. The emphasis on reason is the hallmark of Ayn Rand’s fiction. All of her novels, in one form or another, glorify the life-giving power of the human mind.

For example, in The Fountainhead, Ayn Rand emphasizes the independent nature of the mind’s functioning that rational individuals neither conform to society nor obey authority, but trust their own judgment. In her early novelette Anthem, Ayn Rand shows that under a collectivist dictatorship, the mind is stifled and society regresses to a condition of primitive ignorance. Anthem focuses on the mind’s need for political freedom. The focus of Atlas Shrugged is the role that the human mind plays in human existence. Atlas Shrugged shows that rational thinking is mankind’s survival instrument, just as the ability to fly is the survival tool for birds. In all of her major novels, Ayn Rand presents heroes and heroines who are brilliant thinkers opposed to either society’s pressure to conform or a dictatorial government’s commands to obey. The common denominator in all of her books is the life-and-death importance, for both the individual and society, of remaining true to the mind.

Objectivism in Action

In Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand presents, for the first time and in a dramatized form, her original philosophy of Objectivism. She exemplifies this philosophy in the lives of the heroes and in the action of the story. Objectivism holds that reason not faith or emotionalism is man’s sole means of gaining knowledge. Her theory states that an individual has a right to his or her own life and to the pursuit of his or her own happiness, which is counter to the view that man should sacrifice himself to God or society. Objectivism is individualistic, holding that the purpose of government is to protect the sovereign rights of an individual. This philosophy opposes the collectivist notion that society as a whole is superior to the individual, who must subordinate himself to its requirements. In the political/economic realm, Objectivism upholds full laissez-faire capitalism a system of free markets that legally prevent the government from restricting man’s productive activities as the only philosophical system that protects the freedom of man’s mind, the rights of the individual, and the prosperity of man’s life on earth.

Because of Ayn Rand’s uncompromising defense of the mind, of the individual, and of capitalism, Atlas Shrugged created great controversy on its publication in 1957. Denounced by critics and intellectuals, the book nevertheless reached a wide audience. The book has sold millions of copies and influenced the lives of countless readers. Since 1957, Ayn Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism has gradually taken hold in American society. Today, her books and ideas are becoming widely taught in high schools and universities.

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About Atlas Shrugged – CliffsNotes

Book Summary

The story of Atlas Shrugged takes place in the United States at an unspecified future time. Dagny Taggart, vice president in charge of operations for Taggart Transcontinental Railroad, seeks to rebuild the crumbling track of the Rio Norte Line that serves Ellis Wyatt’s oil fields and the booming industrial areas of Colorado. The country is in a downward economic spiral with businesses closing and men out of work. Other countries in the world have become socialist Peoples’ States and are destitute. Colorado, based on Wyatt’s innovative method of extracting oil from shale, is the last great industrial center on earth. Dagny intends to provide Colorado the train service it requires, but her brother James Taggart, president of Taggart Transcontinental, tries to block her from getting new rails from Rearden Steel, the last reliable steel manufacturer. James wants to do business with the inefficient Associated Steel, which is run by his friend Orren Boyle. Dagny wants the new rail to be made of Rearden Metal, a new alloy that Hank Rearden developed after ten years of experiment. Because the metal has never been tried and has been denounced by metallurgists, James won’t accept responsibility for using it. Dagny, who studied engineering in college, has seen the results of Rearden’s tests. She accepts the responsibility and orders the rails made of Rearden Metal.

Worsening the economic depression in the U.S. is the unexplained phenomenon of talented men retiring and disappearing. For example, Owen Kellogg, a bright young Taggart employee for whom Dagny had great hopes, tells her that he is leaving the railroad. McNamara, a contractor who was supposed to rebuild the Rio Norte Line, retires unexpectedly. As more great men disappear, the American people become increasingly pessimistic. Dagny dislikes the new phrase that has crept into the language and signifies people’s sense of futility and despair. Nobody knows the origin or exact meaning of the question “Who is John Galt?,” but people use the unanswerable question to express their sense of hopelessness. Dagny rejects the widespread pessimism and finds a new contractor for the Rio Norte Line.

The crisis for Taggart Transcontinental worsens when the railroad’s San Sebastian Line proves to be worthless and is nationalized by the Mexican government. The line, which cost millions of dollars, was supposed to provide freight service for the San Sebastian Mines, a new venture by Francisco d’Anconia, the wealthiest copper industrialist in the world. Francisco was Dagny’s childhood friend and her former lover, but she now regards him as a worthless playboy. In this latest venture, d’Anconia has steered investors completely wrong, causing huge financial losses and a general sense of unrest.

James Taggart, in an attempt to recover the railroad’s losses on the San Sebastian Line, uses his political friendships to influence the vote of the National Alliance of Railroads. The Alliance passes what’s known as the “Anti-dog-eat-dog rule,” prohibiting “cutthroat” competition. The rule puts the superb Phoenix-Durango Railroad, Taggart Transcontinental’s competitor for the Colorado freight traffic, out of business. With the Phoenix-Durango line gone, Dagny must rebuild the Rio Norte Line quickly.

Dagny asks Francisco, who is in New York, what his purpose was in building the worthless Mexican mines. He tells her that it was to damage d’Anconia Copper and Taggart Transcontinental, as well as to cause secondary destructive consequences. Dagny is dumbfounded, unable to reconcile such a destructive purpose from the brilliant, productive industrialist Francisco was just ten years earlier. Not long after this conversation, Francisco appears at a celebration for Hank Rearden’s wedding anniversary. Rearden’s wife Lillian, his mother, and his brother are nonproductive freeloaders who believe that the strong are morally obliged to support the weak. Rearden no longer loves and cannot respect them, but he pities their weakness and carries them on his back. Francisco meets Rearden for the first time and warns him that the freeloaders have a weapon that they are using against him. Rearden questions why Francisco has come to the party, but Francisco says that he merely wished to become acquainted with Rearden. He won’t explain his presence any further.

Although public opinion and an incompetent contractor are working against them, Dagny and Rearden build the Rio Norte Line. Rearden designs an innovative bridge for the line that takes advantage of the properties that his new metal possesses. The State Science Institute, a government research organization, tries to bribe and threaten Rearden to keep his metal off the market, but he won’t give in. The Institute then issues a statement devoid of factual evidence that alleges possible weaknesses in the structure of Rearden Metal. Taggart stock crashes, the contractor quits, and the railroad union forbids its employees to work on the Rio Norte Line. When Dr. Robert Stadler, a brilliant theoretical scientist in whose name the State Science Institute was founded, refuses to publicly defend Rearden Metal even though he knows its value, Dagny makes a decision. She tells her brother that she will take a leave of absence, form her own company, and build the Rio Norte Line on her own. She signs a contract saying that when the line is successfully completed, she’ll turn it back over to Taggart Transcontinental. Dagny chooses to name it the John Galt Line in defiance of the general pessimism that surrounds her.

Rearden and the leading businessmen of Colorado invest in the John Galt Line. Rearden feels a strong sexual attraction to Dagny but, because he regards sex as a demeaning impulse, doesn’t act on his attraction. The government passes the Equalization of Opportunity Bill that prevents an individual from owning companies in different fields. The bill prohibits Rearden from owning the mines that supply him with the raw materials he needs to make Rearden Metal. However, Rearden creates a new design for the John Galt Line’s Rearden Metal Bridge, realizing that if he combines a truss with an arch, it will enable him to maximize the best qualities of the new metal.

Dagny completes construction of the Line ahead of schedule. She and Rearden ride in the engine cab on the Line’s first train run, which is a resounding success. Rearden and Dagny have dinner at Ellis Wyatt’s home to celebrate. After dinner, Dagny and Rearden make love for the first time. The next day, Rearden is contemptuous of them both for what he considers their low urges, but Dagny is radiantly happy. She rejects Rearden’s estimate, knowing that their sexual attraction is based on mutual admiration for each other’s noblest qualities.

Dagny and Rearden go on vacation together, driving around the country looking at abandoned factories. At the ruins of the Twentieth Century Motor Company’s factory in Wisconsin, they find the remnant of a motor with the potential to change the world. The motor was able to draw static electricity from the atmosphere and convert it to usable energy, but now it is destroyed.

Realizing how much the motor would benefit the transportation industry, Dagny vows to find the inventor. At the same time, she must fight against new proposed legislation. Various economic pressure groups, seeking to cash in on the industrial success of Colorado, want the government to force the successful companies to share their profits. Dagny knows that the legislation would put Wyatt Oil and the other Colorado companies out of business, destroy the Rio Norte Line, and remove the profit she needs to rebuild the rest of the transcontinental rail system, but she’s powerless to prevent the legislation.

Dagny continues her nationwide quest to find the inventor of the motor, and she finally finds the widow of the engineer who ran the automobile company’s research department. The widow tells Dagny that a young scientist working for her husband invented the motor. She doesn’t know his name, but she provides a clue that leads Dagny to a cook in an isolated Wyoming diner. The cook tells Dagny to forget the inventor of the motor because he won’t be found until he chooses. Dagny is shocked to discover that the cook is Hugh Akston, the world’s greatest living philosopher. She goes to Cheyenne and discovers that Wesley Mouch, the new economic coordinator of the country, has issued a series of directives that will result in the strangling of Colorado’s industrial success. Dagny rushes to Colorado but arrives too late. Ellis Wyatt, in defiance of the government’s edict, set fire to his oil wells and retired.

Months later, the situation in Colorado continues to deteriorate. With the Wyatt oil wells out of business, the economy struggles. Several of the other major industrialists have retired and disappeared; nobody knows where they’ve gone. Dagny is forced to cut trains on the Colorado schedule. The one bright spot of her work is her continued search for the inventor of the motor. She speaks to Robert Stadler who recommends a young scientist, Quentin Daniels of the Utah Institute of Technology, as a man capable of undertaking the motor’s reconstruction.

The State Science Institute orders 10,000 tons of Rearden Metal for a top-secret project, but Rearden refuses to sell it to them. Rearden sells to Ken Danagger, the country’s best producer of coal, an amount of Rearden Metal that the law deems illegal. Meanwhile, at the reception for James Taggart’s wedding, Francisco d’Anconia publicly defends the morality of producing wealth. Rearden overhears what Francisco says and finds himself increasingly drawn to this supposedly worthless playboy. The day following the reception, Rearden’s wife discovers that he’s having an affair, but she doesn’t know with whom. A manipulator who seeks control over her husband, Lillian uses guilt as a weapon against him.

Dr. Ferris of the State Science Institute tells Rearden that he knows of the illegal sale to Ken Danagger and will take Rearden to trial if he refuses to sell the Institute the metal it needs. Rearden refuses, and the government brings charges against himself and Danagger. Dagny, in the meantime, has become convinced that a destroyer is loose in the world some evil creature that is deliberately luring away the brains of the world for a purpose she cannot understand. Her diligent assistant, Eddie Willers, knows that Dagny’s fears are justified. He eats his meals in the workers’ cafeteria, where he has befriended a nameless worker. Eddie tells the worker about Dagny’s fear that Danagger is next in line for the destroyer that he’ll be the next to retire and disappear. Dagny races to Pittsburgh to meet with Danagger to convince him to stay, but she’s too late. Someone has already met with Danagger and convinced him to retire. In a mood of joyous serenity, Danagger tells Dagny that nothing could convince him to remain. The next day, he disappears.

Francisco visits Rearden and empathizes with the pain he has endured because of the invention of Rearden Metal. Francisco begins to ask Rearden what could make such suffering worthwhile when an accident strikes one of Rearden’s furnaces. Francisco and Rearden race to the scene and work arduously to make the necessary repairs. Afterward, when Rearden asks him to finish his question, Francisco says that he knows the answer and departs.

At his trial, Rearden states that he doesn’t recognize his deal with Danagger as a criminal action and, consequently, doesn’t recognize the court’s right to try him. He says that a man has the right to own the product of his effort and to trade it voluntarily with others. The government has no moral basis for outlawing the voluntary exchange of goods and services. The government, he says, has the power to seize his metal by force, and they have the power to compel him at the point of a gun. But he won’t cooperate with their demands, and he won’t pretend that the process is civil. If the government wishes to deal with men by compulsion, it must do so openly. Rearden states that he won’t help the government pretend that his trial is anything but the initiation of a forced seizure of his metal. He says that he’s proud of his metal, he’s proud of his mills, he’s proud of every penny that he’s earned by his own hard work, and he’ll not cooperate by voluntarily yielding one cent that is his. Rearden says that the government will have to seize his money and products by force, just like the robber it is. At this point, the crowd bursts into applause. The judges recognize the truth of what Rearden says and refuse to stand before the American people as open thieves. In the end, they fine Rearden and suspend the sentence.

Because of the new economic restrictions, the major Colorado industrialists have all retired and disappeared. Freight traffic has dwindled, and Taggart Transcontinental has been forced to shut down the Rio Norte Line. The railroad is in terrible condition: It is losing money, the government has convinced James Taggart to grant wage raises, and there is ominous talk that the railroad will be forced to cut shipping rates. At the same time, Wesley Mouch is desperate for Rearden to cooperate with the increasingly dictatorial government. Because Rearden came to Taggart’s wedding celebration, Mouch believes that Taggart can influence Rearden. Mouch implies that a trade is possible: If Taggart can convince Rearden to cooperate, Mouch will prevent the government from forcing a cut in shipping rates. Taggart appeals to Lillian for help, and Lillian discovers that Dagny Taggart is her husband’s lover.

In response to devastating economic conditions, the government passes the radical Directive 10-289, which requires that all workers stay at their current jobs, all businesses remain open, and all patents and inventions be voluntarily turned over to the government. When she hears the news, Dagny resigns from the railroad. Rearden doesn’t resign from Rearden Steel, however, because he has two weeks to sign the certificate turning his metal over to the government, and he wants to be there to refuse when the time is up. Dr. Floyd Ferris of the State Science Institute comes to Rearden and says that the government has evidence of his affair with Dagny Taggart and will make it public dragging Dagny’s name through the gutter if he refuses to sign over his metal. Rearden now knows that his desire for Dagny is the highest virtue he possesses and is free of all guilt regarding it, but he’s a man who pays his own way. He knows that he should have divorced Lillian long ago and openly declared his love for Dagny. His guilt and error gave his enemies this weapon. He must pay for his own error and not allow Dagny to suffer, so he signs.

Dagny has retreated to a hunting lodge in the mountains that she inherited from her father. She’s trying to decide what to do with the rest of her life when word reaches her that a train wreck of enormous proportions has destroyed the famed Taggart Tunnel through the heart of the Rockies, making all transcontinental traffic impossible on the main track. She rushes back to New York to resume her duties, and she reroutes all transcontinental traffic. She receives a letter from Quentin Daniels telling her that, because of Directive 10-289, he’s quitting. Dagny plans to go west to inspect the track and to talk to Daniels.

On the train ride west, Dagny rescues a hobo who is riding the rails. He used to work for the Twentieth Century Motor Company. He tells her that the company put into practice the communist slogan, “From each according to his ability, to each according to his need,” a scheme that resulted in enslaving the able to the unable. The first man to quit was a young engineer, who walked out of a mass meeting saying that he would put an end to this once and for all by “stopping the motor of the world.” The bum tells her that as the years passed and they saw factories close, production drop, and great minds retire and disappear, they began to wonder if the young engineer, whose name was John Galt, succeeded.

On her trip west, Dagny’s train is stalled when the crew abandons it. She finds an airplane and continues on to Utah to find Daniels, but she learns at the airport that Daniels left with a visitor in a beautiful plane. Realizing that the visitor is the “destroyer,” she gives chase, flying among the most inaccessible peaks of the Rockies. Her plane crashes.

Dagny finds herself in Atlantis, the hidden valley to which the great minds have gone to escape the persecution of a dictatorial government. She finds that John Galt does exist and that he’s the man she’s been seeking in two ways: He is both the inventor of the motor and the “destroyer,” the man draining the brains of the world. All the great men she admires are here inventors, industrialists, philosophers, scientists, and artists. Dagny learns that the brains are on strike. They refuse to think, create, and work in a world that forces them to sacrifice themselves to society. They’re on strike against the creed of self-sacrifice, in favor of a man’s right to his own life.

Dagny falls in love with Galt, who has loved and watched her for years. But Dagny is a scab, the most dangerous enemy of the strike, and Galt won’t touch her yet. Dagny has the choice to join the strike and remain in the valley or go back to her railroad and the collapsing outside world. She is torn, but she refuses to give up the railroad and returns. Although Galt’s friends don’t want him to expose himself to the danger, he returns as well, so he can be near at hand when Dagny decides she’s had enough.

When she returns, Dagny finds that the government has nationalized the railroad industry and controls it under a Railroad Unification Plan. Dagny can no longer make business decisions based on matters of production and profit; she is subject to the arbitrary whims of the dictators. The government wants Dagny to make a reassuring speech to the public on the radio and threatens her with the revelation of her affair with Rearden. On the air, Dagny proudly states that she was Rearden’s lover and that he signed his metal over to the government only because of a blackmail threat. Before being cut off the air, Dagny succeeds in warning the American people about the ruthless dictatorship that the United States government is becoming.

Because of the government’s socialist policies, the collapse of the U. S. economy is imminent. Francisco d’Anconia destroys his holdings and disappears because his properties worldwide are about to be nationalized. He leaves the “looters” the parasites who feed off the producers nothing, wiping out millions of dollars belonging to corrupt American investors like James Taggart. Meanwhile, politicians use their economic power to create their own personal empires. In one such scheme, the Taggart freight cars needed to haul the Minnesota wheat harvest to market are diverted to a project run by the relatives of powerful politicians. The wheat rots at the Taggart stations, the farmers riot, farms shut down (as do many of the companies providing them with equipment), people lose their jobs, and severe food shortages result.

During an emergency breakdown at the Taggart Terminal in New York City, Dagny finds that John Galt is one of the railroad’s unskilled laborers. She sees him in the crowd of men ready to carry out her commands. After completing her task, Dagny walks into the abandoned tunnels, knowing that Galt will follow. They make love for the first time, and he then returns to his mindless labor.

The government smuggles its men into Rearden’s mills, pretending that they’re steelworkers. The union of steelworkers asks for a raise, but the government refuses, making it sound as if the refusal comes from Rearden. When Rearden rejects the Steel Unification Plan the government wants to spring on him, they use the thugs they’ve slipped into his mills to start a riot. The pretense of protecting Rearden is the government’s excuse for taking over his mills. But Francisco d’Anconia, under an assumed name, has taken a job at Rearden’s mills. He organizes the workers, and they successfully defend the mills against the government’s thugs. Afterward, Francisco tells Rearden the rest of the things he wants him to know. Rearden retires, disappears, and joins the strike.

Mr. Thompson, the head of state, is set to address the nation regarding its dire economic conditions. But before he begins to speak, he is preempted, cut off the air by a motor of incalculable power. John Galt addresses the nation instead. Galt informs citizens that the men of the mind are on strike, that they require freedom of thought and action, and that they refuse to work under the dictatorship in power. The thinkers won’t return, Galt says, until human society recognizes an individual’s right to live his own life. Only when the moral code of self-sacrifice is rejected will the thinkers be free to create, and only then will they return.

The government rulers are desperate. Frantically, they seek John Galt. They want him to become economic dictator of the country so the men of the mind will come back and save the government, but Galt refuses. Realizing that Dagny thinks the same way that Galt does, the government has her followed. Mr. Thompson makes clear to Dagny that certain members of the government fear and hate Galt, and that if they find him first, they may kill him. Terrified, Dagny goes to Galt’s apartment to see if he’s still alive. The government’s men follow her and take Galt into custody, and the rulers attempt to convince Galt to take charge of the country’s economy. He refuses. They torture him, yet still he refuses. In the end, the strikers come to his rescue. Francisco and Rearden, joined now by Dagny, assault the grounds of the State Science Institute where Galt is held captive. They kill some guards and incapacitate others, release Galt, and return to the valley. Dagny and Galt are united. Shortly after, the final collapse of the looters’ regime occurs, and the men of the mind are free to return to the world.

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Book Summary

Atlas Shrugged | Folio Society

Rand was born in Russia in 1905, and saw her family driven to the brink of starvation by the Soviet revolution. The experience left her with a deeply felt scepticism for socialism and the notion of altruism. With her arrival in America, a land famous for its pioneering spirit and celebration of the single-minded genius, she was inspired to formulate a new way of thinking about work and achievement. Filled with admiration for entrepreneurs such as Thomas Edison and Nikola Tesla, Rand began work on her magnum opus, through which she would champion competition, creativity and the role of the mind in mans existence.

The heroic characters who rise to the top in Atlas Shrugged espouse Rands philosophy of objectivism: the determined pursuit of personal happiness and the development of unfettered capitalism. Her philosophy would, she was certain, make America and therefore the world great again. Atlas Shrugged remains a controversial text, both for its ideas about economics and industry, and for its popularity among libertarian movements around the world. Whichever side of the fence one is on and no one remains sitting on it for long after reading this novel one cannot deny the sheer scale of Rands ambition: she pulls at the roots of mans existence and derives radical, original solutions.

The book saw a huge surge of popularity during the recent financial crisis, selling hundreds of thousands of copies in the first few months of 2009 alone. Never far from discussions of economics and industry, the events of Atlas Shrugged seemed strangely prescient, and it has again become a vital text as people seek to question the role of government, and how a new financial future can be built outside of subsidies and handouts. Often called the most influential book in America after the Bible, Rands epic still regularly tops the polls when readers are asked to vote for the best novel of the 20th century.

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Atlas Shrugged | Folio Society


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