Reading the Screen: An Atlas Shrugged Movie? (Shrug)

200px-atlasshruggedI can scarcely believe it, but after nearly 40 years of “development hell,” it looks like someone is finally making a movie out of Atlas Shrugged. Ayn Rand’s mammoth novel, published in 1957, is brilliant, complex, thought-provoking, and — in my opinion — utterly unfilmable. But I wish them well.

Apparently, according to this report at comingsoon.net, the book will be broken into two movies. That’s a good idea: it would be exercise in futility to try to pack Rand’s epic story of a dystopian United States in which the best and brightest minds rebel against an anti-capitalist government (and I’m recklessly simplifying here) into a single movie. Unless the movie was, say, eight hours long.

To give you an idea what the filmmakers are up against: The Fountainhead, Rand’s 1943 novel, was made into a movie in 1949. It had a sterling cast (which included Gary Cooper as Howard Roark, the nonconformist architect), a top-flight director (King Vidor), and a screenwriter familiar with the material (Rand herelf), but it was still a misfire. An ambitious misfire, but still.

On the other hand, if they make the movie, and it works, it could bring Rand’s challenging ideas to the attention of a lot of people who might shy away from a thousand-page novel.

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