Katniss Everdeen voluntarily takes her younger sister's place in the Hunger Games, a televised fight to the death in which two teenagers from each of the twelve Districts of Panem are chosen at random to compete.
An aspiring author during the civil rights movement of the 1960s decides to write a book detailing the African-American maids' point of view on the white families for which they work, and the hardships they go through on a daily basis.
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 by
When Dagny gets in her car after leaving the roadside diner in Brandon, WY, the license plate is a red Colorado plate. When she arrives in Wyatt Junction, CO, the plate is a county 22 Wyoming plate. Same car, different plates. See more »
How is Atlas Shrugged different from any other movie? Why has is taken 54 years to bring Ayn Rand's epic 1,100 page novel to the big screen? Why is it lacking participation from the A-list Hollywood names once attached to it, Anjelina Jolie, Charlize Theron, Robert Redford, Clint Eastwood, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Faye Dunaway? Why did it open on only 300 screens nationwide, and why was that opening on April 15, 2011, coincident with the third annual Tax Day Tea Party? Why are the founders and top executives of the nation's most successful industrial empires disappearing without a trace, one by one? Why ask useless questions? Who is John Galt? Because they have answers, that's why. Those who have read Rand's 1957 magnum opus know the answer to the last of those questions. This posting will suggest an answer to the first, which may in turn offer clues to the others.
So, what makes Atlas Shrugged different? It takes place in the near-term future, 2016 (a departure from the book). That's not it; we have seen thousands of movies about an imagined future. The nation is in the worst economic recession in history. Nothing new there. People of former means are living in the streets, homeless and destitute, while the captains of industry and owners of large corporations grow rich. No departure from the Hollywood norm there. The story is told from the points of view of those ultra-rich tycoons and moguls, the movie's sympathetic characters. There it is. Never before has a major Hollywood movie departed from its pet formula in which the "bad guys" are the evil rich. Not until now has a movie examined the question, why do we hate the founders of corporations, and why do we blame them for unemployment, when they are the ones who create jobs, not destroy them?
Atlas Shrugged asks the viewer to think and understand, similar to other business- themed files like Wall Street and Rollover. Readers may be disappointed that the monumental size of the novel does not afford time for the screenplay to take the user into certain folds of the full story, since many characters must be introduced, and much of the political/business climate must be laid down as foundation. As a result, much of the screenplay consists of dry dialog, and much of the action from the novel is absent, presented in exposition such as newspaper headlines. The train wreck with which the book introduces us to heroine Dagny Taggart's heroic can-do character is shown only on a television news screen, and mentioned only once much later in dialog. The story of the Twentieth Century Motor Company's failure is given in brief narration by Hank Rearden. The back-story relationship between Dagny and Francisco D'Anconia is not explored at all. Eddie Willers is reduced to little more than an office messenger, periodically updating the principles on the latest story developments.
Dagny and Rearden themselves are played with dry professionalism by Taylor Schilling and Paul Johansson, owing to their characters' purely-business attitudes toward life. Only in the final cliffhanging scene does Schilling display the real passion of Dagny, in a single exclamation reminiscent of Scarlett O'Hara's anguished cry which closes the first half of Gone with the Wind. Some familiar character actors are present: Graham Beckel gives a compelling performance as oil magnate Ellis Wyatt, as do John Polito as steel competitor Orren Boyle and Michael Lerner as Washington lobbyist Wesley Mouch (conspicuously not pronounced, "mooch"). Rebecca Wisocky is delightfully unlikeable Rearden's ungrateful wife of 10 years, Lillian, inducing chuckles among viewers as she delivers snide, condescending comments directed at her successful husband, from whom she is nonetheless not too proud to freeload.
The cinematography is extraordinary, particularly during a montage in which the inaugural run of the new Rio Norte train crosses breathtaking views of Colorado. This movie gives us heavy industrial shots such as rail yards and steel mills, not as hideous rusted eyesores but as the industrialists see them: glorious grand machinery producing goods and pumping wealth into the nation's economy. That is another way in which this movie is different - its view that industry is not evil, enemy to all that is good and healthy, but rather the foundation upon which modern society is built.
The biggest disappointment is the sudden ending, to those who have not read the book and were expecting more than "half a movie." In reality, it is one-third, as the filmmakers have divided the story in same manner Ayn Rand divided the novel: into three parts. Atlas Shrugged, then is a trilogy, in which Part 1 only begins to hint at the answer to the pervasive question, "Who is John Galt?" The closing credits veritably beg for Part 2.
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