It has been said that there is nothing new under the sun. From fashion to societal morality, history keeps on repeating itself. Who ever thought skinny jeans would come back in style? What’s next, stirrup pants and scrunchies?
Atlas Shrugged: Part 1 is an excellent reminder of the dangers of socialism in our current age of entitlement. The parallels between the story and our current political and cultural state are uncanny and more than a little bit unsettling. As a witness to the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia, author Ayn Rand was well aware of the tragedies of statism, and her most famous work of literature depicts what happens when the wealth is spread around in the name of fairness.
The movie adaptation of Atlas Shrugged remains faithful to Rand’s themes of capitalism and the evils of collectivism. One major change from the pages to the screen was the decision to change the setting from a future fictional country to America in 2016. It was a good decision, in this writer’s opinion, as it illustrates the slippery slope of socialism our nation is teetering on.
It opens with America in decline. Fuel prices are through the roof, making air travel impossibly unaffordable and bringing back trains as the major mode of transportation for people and goods. Airplanes and buildings are in disrepair, businesses shut down, and successful citizens disappear after being sought out by a shadowy character calling himself John Galt.
Taylor Schilling does a beautiful job portraying heroine Dagny Taggart, who fights tooth and nail against her annoying brother James (Mathew Marsden) and his political cronies in Washington to make Taggart Transcontinental a success. Poised, polished, and with an iron will, Dagny partners with Hank Rearden (Grant Bowler), an entrepreneur who has invented a new metal that is lighter, cheaper, and stronger than steel. Together, they battle oppressive government restrictions and sanctions to rebuild the Rio Norte line in Colorado. The Centennial state is one of the last prosperous states in the nation, thanks in large part to oil tycoon Ellis Wyatt (Graham Beckel). Once the newly christened John Galt line is completed, Wyatt will have a safe way to transport his product to consumers. That is real job creation.
Dagny and Rearden hit roadblock after roadblock in their quest to build the John Galt line, but their determination to make a thing and see it work pushes them forward. Harry Reid-like politicians do all they can to destroy the business partners, while maintaining a public face of empathy and equality. They apply new taxes to steel mills, make it illegal to own more than one enterprise, and even get a government committee to testify that Rearden metal is untested and unsafe.
In a scene that could have included former SEIU president Andy Stern, Dagny is warned that she cannot force the union members to work on her ‘dangerous’ train. Her response shows the grit required for business success: “You can do whatever you want with your men … but that train will run if I have to drive the damn thing myself.”
Bravo to The Strike Productions for tackling this ambitious project and producing a wonderful film. Add it to your must-see list – it is definitely worth the price of a ticket.
Cross-posted at Big Hollywood