Watch: Trailer For Ayn Rand Adaptation 'Atlas Shrugged Part 1' Hilarious On So Many Levels

by Oliver Lyttelton
February 14, 2011 3:06 AM
32 Comments
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For the moment, let's try to leave aside the politics and philosophy of Ayn Rand -- after all, only so many words can really be expounded on a point of view that ultimately comes down to not giving a shit about your fellow human beings. There's a reason that it's taken over half a century for a film adaptation of Rand's magnum opus, "Atlas Shrugged," to reach screens; as well as being an awful sociopath (her ideal man was a convicted murderer who kidnapped, disemboweled and chopped the legs off a twelve year old girl), Rand was also a terrible writer, whose books are full of leaden prose, heavy-handed metaphor and very little drama.

"Atlas Shrugged," or at least the first part of a interminable-sounding four part adaptation, finally went before cameras last summer, thanks to the imminent expiry of the rights, with "One Tree Hill" star Paul Johansson (no, us neither) at the helm, and starring relative newcomer Taylor Schilling and the boat captain from "Lost" who looks like Richard Roxburgh. A trailer hit over the weekend after premiering at The American Conservative Union's Conservative Political Action Conference; could it possibly be as bad as we predicted back at the start of the year?

You bet your ass it could. Looking for all the world like a Funny or Die parody of the novel, it's packed to the brim with terrible readings of unintentionally hilarious lines ("Why ask useless questions? How deep is the ocean? How high is the sky? Who is John Galt?"), features more shots of poorly-rendered CGI trains than the first assembly of "Unstoppable," and appears to have been shot by the DoP from a daytime soap opera.

On the plus side, this certainly seems to have the potential to replace "The Room" as an endlessly quotable disaster, destined to play midnight movies to drunken hecklers for years to come -- we can certainly see "They are not getting my metal!" becoming a meme in years to come. On the down side, it also looks really fucking boring.

Still, congrats to Johansson & co for seemingly delivering the movie that Rand has always deserved. That's not a compliment. Matthew Marsden ("Rambo"), Graham Beckel ("Battlestar Galactica"), Edi Gathegi ("Twilight"), Jsu Garcia ("Che"), Michael Lerner ("Barton Fink") and Patrick Fischler ("Mad Men"), all of whom were presumably about to have their homes repossessed when the gig came along, co-star. If you're an Objectivist, a hardcore "One Tree Hill" fan, Glenn Beck, or a masochist, you'll be able to see the finished product soon: the picture's being self-distributed by The Strike Productions from April 15th, timed, predictably, to coincide with Tax Day.

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More: Films, Atlas Shrugged: Part I

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32 Comments

  • Galty McGaltGalt | May 3, 2011 6:19 AMReply

    Hello everyone, I'm from the future! I thought all you February posters might like to know that the film bombed at the box office and the producer was hilarious! He said after the first weekend it was a hit and would be in a 1000 theaters! (it wasn't and managed 465 screens before shrinking again!) Then he said he was quitting because the critics hurt his feelings! Then he said he wasn't and he'd be making parts 2 and 3! Then he begged Hollywood to come rescue him and to please make bigger-budget sequels to a box office bomb! One day there will be an excellent documentary about the making and release of this move. The word "hubris" will probably be used a lot on the poster.

  • Rick Smith | March 11, 2011 12:09 AMReply

    Rand's prophetic novel will finally reach the masses.
    The government schooled brainwashed socialistas will rage
    and imagine a vain thing, all for nought.
    Socialism always has and always will have the same end.
    Those that pull the wagon inevitably tell those in the wagon
    to get out and walk.

  • h2oclerk | February 27, 2011 1:38 AMReply

    Lyttelton has obviously never read any of Rand, nor it seems has seen anything more than the trailer. Obviously though, she has picked up much erroneous information about Rand and Objectivist ideas from third hand sources, and not thought it important enough to verify any facts before committing her ignorance to words. So sad for her, and for others who might not recognize how truly ignorant and dishonest her review is.

  • Cognomen | February 17, 2011 2:21 AMReply

    Only an act of charity could bring Rand’s work to the screen and to her credit very few wasted much of anything on the making of this film.

  • Brandon | February 16, 2011 4:09 AMReply

    Am I the only person who has a problem with the director (Paul Johansson) casting himself as John Galt?

    As to the ignorant venom spewed at Rand's philosophy and writing by Oliver, it is in itself, self defeating. He books are considered classics for a reason. Relegate your comments to the film itself (which yes looks rushed, and is not the film I've been waiting for) not the books. This is a film site after all.

    Her writing however is prophetic, 50 plus years after it was published and what it predicted is now coming to pass. In a world where the line between rich and poor grows ever more pronounced and the middle classes are forced to shoulder the financial burden for everyone, and a president that wants to give everything to the people for free (and failing to mention that it's not free, we will pay for it in taxes, and get far worse service for it) I can't think of a novel that is more timely or relevant.

    Her philosophy is simple: What's mine is mine, and no one else's, because I've earned it. No man has the right to take what's mine away from me and call it virtuousness. Charity by force is not by its very definition charity. Thievery is thievery, no matter what name, or cause, is claimed.

    Sounds pretty reasonable to me.

  • Jessica | February 15, 2011 9:50 AMReply

    In all the frothy-mouthed hysteria, why has no one made more of the most amazing discovery in this trailer: that guy is NOT Richard Roxburgh?

  • Christopher Bell | February 15, 2011 6:38 AMReply

    RF, honestly, what the hell was that? You sound like one of her poorly written characters.

  • girlofreason | February 15, 2011 5:08 AMReply

    You are certainly entitled to your opinion about Atlas Shrugged the book - if you read it, which I doubt. You are also entitled to your opinion of Ayn Rand and her philosophy, Objectivism which I doubt you've even read anything about. Do you realize there is a difference between fact and fiction? I don't think you do. Your opinions are your opinions but they are nothing unless the facts which you use to form them are correct.

    With regards to the trailer, I think it is fabulous and I look forward to seeing the movie. Perhaps you should hold off on forming an opinion of the movie until you actually see it! That would be a novel idea.

  • Lone Wolf | February 15, 2011 3:56 AMReply

    This movie and this idea will grow and grow like a Tsunami. All of your lame hate for Ayn and the movie will just create curiosity to see it. The freedom-loving, intelligent people will love it and the lazy, stupid, blood-sucking liberals who fear the truth will hate it. This movie will break records...for years...remember Star Wars? Call this "Mind Wars".

    "As scarce as truth is, the supply has always exceeded the demand."

    I am not a liberal OR conservative OR Tea Partier...I AM an Objectivist! Get off my back!

  • John Donohue | February 15, 2011 1:53 AMReply

    good one RF.

    I have a new mathematical discovery: "The amount of jealousy, fear, panic and impotence in the heart of a Progressive is proportional to the square of foaming froth spewed forth at the sight of Miss Rand's inevitability." I am considering a corollary: 'Said proportion becomes the cubic exponent when someone tries to film Atlas Shrugged.'

  • Freedom | February 15, 2011 1:49 AMReply

    Even more importantly, why is Dagny Taggart, a billionaire railroad executive, driving a Toyota Corolla? Was that in the novel?

  • RF | February 15, 2011 1:26 AMReply

    "Since the Randian world view is based entirely on shameless contempt for others, I have no qualms with roundly dismissing her disciples."

    Good for you. And we don't give a shit. You see, we have no use for you, because most of you do not produce anything of value. Most of you subsist on the government or on wealthy parents.

    But you need me because I produce something of value, and your politicians steal from me to give to you. Your life depends on the constant political campaign for your own livelihood. You must fool the public into thinking that what you do in your government funded occupation is essential. But you know, deep down, that you are weak human beings. You are slaves to your own game. And when the checks stop flowing in your direction you will be free, but unable to survive on your own. Good luck frail ones. You'll need it. :)

  • Gabe Toro | February 15, 2011 1:08 AMReply

    Except that the Tea Party movement is NOT A FUCKING MOVEMENT.

    There's politics, and then there's being a fucking imbecile.

  • Robert | February 15, 2011 12:32 AMReply

    You know, the highest tribute to Ayn Rand -- given abundant if unintended evidence here -- is that her critics must distort everything she stood for in order to attack her.

    Look: She advocated reason, not force; every individual's rights to freedom of action, speech, property, aspiration, and association -- and not to some "Superman's" alleged supremacy over "inferiors; self-responsibility, NOT self-indulgence; and a live-and-let-live society in which each individual is treated as an END -- not as the MEANS to the ends of others.

    Now how many critics would dare honestly state that she advocated THESE ideas, and then say: " . . .and that's what I hate and despise about her philosophy"?

    As for the film, I think you're predictions of its failure will prove about as accurate as two years of predictions of the failure and collapse of the Tea Party movement. You folks are simply whistling past the graveyard of "progressivism."

  • Freedom | February 15, 2011 12:06 AMReply

    I can't find a single comment section about this trailer that doesn't fall into these lame political 'debates'. This honestly is a gold mine trailer of awful acting, CGI, cinematography and plot shilling. I can't wait to torrent this.

  • Sean | February 14, 2011 10:49 AMReply

    Movie looks shitty. Ayn Rand is a great writer. People have opinions.

    Let's not forget she was born Russian.

  • Stephen M | February 14, 2011 10:34 AMReply

    Looks better than Kaboom.


    And I should point out that Conservative does not equal Randian. William F Buckley, Jr. and Ayn Rand hated each other. She hated plenty of libertarian leaders, too.

  • John Donohue | February 14, 2011 9:48 AMReply

    @Christopher Bell
    flathead comment. Goes to show you are part of the unneeded choir if you think "Ayn Rand" was just the human being who died in 1982.

    @eric
    another useless one. Rand's contempt was not the collectivist "others" you spouted. Her contempt was sharp, pointed and lethal for all who deserved it and non-existent for those who did not. Not to mention that her philosophy was not 'entirely based' on this contempt; the contempt was only a rapier designed to skewer anyone who was a "bad guy" under her beliefs. A mere tool.

  • Kevin Jagernauth | February 14, 2011 9:32 AMReply

    Enlightened self-interest is also responsible for this movie. #fail

  • DuluozGray | February 14, 2011 9:31 AMReply

    The movie looks awful, but that has nothing to do with your complete misrepresentation of her philosophy.

    Enlightened self interest benefits society as a whole. It is not selfishness, which is a negative that destroys society. Many people simply can't grasp the difference between the two.

    Enlightened self interest is responsible for clean air and water, for innovation, for advancement as a society. It's that simple.

  • Kevin Jagernauth | February 14, 2011 7:37 AMReply

    Butthurt conservatives are more hilarious than anything in this trailer.

  • brett | February 14, 2011 7:36 AMReply

    "For the moment, let’s try to leave aside the politics and philosophy of Ayn Rand—after all, only so many words can really be expounded on a point of view that ultimately comes down to not giving a shit about your fellow human beings."

    Wow, way to fail at your own request! Yes, let's leave all that aside (other than this quick jab about how people who aren't liberals shouldn't be allowed to breathe much less hold a political ideology)

  • Erik | February 14, 2011 6:45 AMReply

    Since the Randian world view is based entirely on shameless contempt for others, I have no qualms with roundly dismissing her disciples.

  • mikeinla | February 14, 2011 6:43 AMReply

    This may kill conservatism.

    That said, The Fountainhead is a pretty good movie.

  • The Savage | February 14, 2011 5:34 AMReply

    Communitarianism is already on its downfall. The reason? Corruption from within.

  • JP | February 14, 2011 5:10 AMReply

    Boom. Roasted.

  • Christopher Bell | February 14, 2011 5:04 AMReply

    Reading "Atlas Shrugged" now and he's right on the money. Sorry guys, I know it must be annoying when people talk shit about what you like, but it doesn't take a philosophy degree to have a negative opinion on her work.

  • Oliver Lyttelton | February 14, 2011 5:01 AMReply

    I hate to be the one to tell you, but Ayn Rand isn't immune. Her heart, which was probably two sizes too small, packed it in 1982.

  • John Donohue | February 14, 2011 4:52 AMReply

    Take you best shot. Hopefully you can do better than the tired crap you just spewed, since it is all old, wrong and long stomped on.

    You should take you best shot, because Ayn Rand is immune. No matter how bad this film is, she will keep right on marching and your puny efforts have no effect whatsoever. Remember: Ayn Rand does NOT NEED your choir, and her choir gets bigger and strong all the time.

  • Kevin Klawitter | February 14, 2011 4:46 AMReply

    This seems like one of those movies like "An American Carol", where the filmmakers will blame the "liberal media" for the inevitable torrent of bad reviews.

  • Tyler | February 14, 2011 4:38 AMReply

    Please don't comment on politics or philosophy you have no credibility in such areas, stick to reporting film "news" and drop the laughably bad "color" commentary.

  • Mike D | February 14, 2011 3:41 AMReply

    I doubt Objectivists are happy about this in the least bit.

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