ATLAS SHRUGGED PART 1 Ayn Rand’s 1957 novel ran 1,200 pages, and she famously rebuffed her publisher, who wanted trims, “Would you cut the Bible?” Apart from its deficiencies as fiction, whatever its philosophical limitations (the rich and able should only help themselves in Rand’s “Objectivism”), the book proves proudly indigestible on film. This is perhaps a fitting tribute to its stubborn writer, who scorned The Fountainhead's not-terrible adaptation and died (in 1982) while laboring on a TV miniseries script for Atlas Shrugged, intended to star her favorite actress, Farrah Fawcett. Here, doe-eyed mannequin Taylor Schilling portrays railway magnate Dagny Taggart, who casts off the shackles of family, mediocrity and compromise to lay her own tracks across Colorado. Aided by steel baron Henry Reardon (Grant Bowler), she also pursues the mystery of why society’s greatest innovators are suddenly going AWOL. While the world crumbles in economic crisis in the year 2016, with gas at $37.50 a gallon, Rand’s free-market superheroes are fleeing to a mountain compound ruled by … just who is this John Galt anyway? (Director Paul Johansson, and we’ll see more of him in Part II.) Those outside the Rand cult will snicker at the wooden acting, cheap effects and constant warnings against wealth redistribution and government regulation (a dog whistle raised to Tea Party ears). But a movie that celebrates high-speed rail, constant boozing and adultery can’t be all bad. With two recent biographies on Rand (a Russian Jew who escaped to Hollywood, then best-sellerdom), hers is the life you want to see filmed, not that of her laissez-faire cartoon heroine. (AMC Rolling Hills, Landmark Regent) (Brian Miller)
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