Happy Birthday, Ayn Rand

Atlas ShruggedToday is Ayn Rand’s (1905-1982) birthday. So, I decided to check out the new movie version of the first part of her 1957 novel, Atlas Shrugged, in earnest (more on the film, which I have not seen, later). I spent some time with the picture’s screenwriter, co-producer Brian Patrick O’Toole, who is adapting the novel for the screen. Having seen a sneak preview of the trailer for the movie, scheduled to open in select theaters on April 15, I must say that this low-budget effort looks better than I had expected. Exciting enough for the uninitiated, substantial enough for Objectivists and Ayn Rand fans, the trailer opens with a man named Midas Mulligan, met by a shadowy figure who has something important to say. From there, we see skylines, speeding trains, and men of steel (including Ellis Wyatt, Hank Rearden, and, of course, Dagny Taggart), and the action and drama never let up. The trailer looks crisp, clean and polished and wraps with the question: Who is John Galt? A tag-on teases “…Ask the Question.” This is the world’s first movie about Ayn Rand’s epic theme, the mind on strike, and, though it is impossible to gauge a movie’s merits on the basis of a trailer, for what it’s worth, I’m impressed.

Another movie trailer, the two-minute trailer for the 1949 cinematic adaptation of Rand’s third novel, The Fountainhead, which she adapted for Warner Bros., wrongly refers to the story’s mediocre architect Peter Keating, as “selfish.” But a DVD feature, The Making of The Fountainhead, included with the erroneous trailer on the disc’s extras, gets Ayn Rand’s ideas right in an informative account that makes a solid companion to what is rightly called a unique and hugely entertaining movie.

Anthem stageRand’s second novel, Anthem, has been adapted for a comic book (or graphic novel) by Charles Santino with illustration by artist Joe Staton. Anthem: The Graphic Novel ($15), published this week in trade paperback, is the first ever illustrated novelization of any of Ayn Rand’s work. Anthem was also adapted by Jeff Britting for the stage in Austin, Texas, where it was apparently a resounding commercial and critical success. Rand’s unsung first novel, We the Living, was pirated in fascist Italy in 1942 for what became an outstanding screen version. I reviewed the movie for the Ayn Rand Institute’s newsletter, Impact, here.

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