The long-awaited film version of Ayn Rand’s 1957 novel “Atlas Shrugged” has finally seen the light of day in “Atlas Shrugged Part

Picture of one of the playbills used for display for the movie, Atlas Shrugged Part I

Atlas Shrugged Part I

I,” the first in a planned trilogy. The film, about 1 hour, 40 minutes, received an encouraging audience response on the April 15 weekend opening. A tight budget and limited distribution brought it to about 300 theaters, but positive response has increased showings to 1,000 theaters the following week and more later on as word of mouth spreads. Producers hope to release Part II on April 15, 2012 and Part III on April 15, 2013.

 

Response has been somewhat predictable to Rand’s pro-capitalist and individualistic epic view of economic collapse and government takeover in the near future — all too hauntingly realistic considering today’s headlines. Many fans of the novel voiced enthusiasm over the filmmakers’ ability to create heroes of the main characters in Part I while setting up the mystery for what awaits in Parts II and III. Some fans enjoyed the film, but felt much was left out of Rand’s 1,000-page plus novel, a near-impossible task considering the lengthy dialogue and deep philosophical segments in the book.

Because film needs to take an entirely different approach than books for artistic appeal, visual and emotional aspects replace much of the written page. There has to be movement instead of speech, along with creating banter, to get across the message, producer John Aglialoro explained. Aglialoro purchased the rights to the novel in 1992 and proceeded with great difficulty over the years to finally get it filmed, a mammoth accomplishment to overcome the resistance of pro-liberal and leftist leaning Hollywood. However, the film, as well as the two sequels to follow, focuses on ideas rather than left vs. right, the producer added.

Many opponents of Rand’s philosophy responded typically with anti-capitalist ravings on blogs. It was obvious some of them haven’t even seen the film and used the opportunity for left-wing vitriol. On Rotten Tomatoes, a popular review site, the response was revealing. While only 6 percent of critics gave the film thumbs up, 85 percent of moviegoers gave it high ratings. Some of the elitist comments from critics include, “weirdly esoteric about weirdly esoteric things,” “sterile and lifeless” and a “low-budget, no-talent treatment.” Kyle Smith of the New York Post was among the exceptions, stating the film has “a fire and a fury that makes it more compelling than the average mass-produced studio item.”

Contrary to narrow-minded and politically obsessed criticism, the film is extraordinarily well-made for an independent production with fine to excellent performances. Brilliant scenes take us to authentic laying down of railroad track and through colorful and mountainous Colorado and other regions, especially the victorious ride of the John Galt Line. Excitement rises during the journey to find the creator of an invention that could change the world. The emotional and stirring ending of Part I adds to the “why are people leaving” mystery that follows throughout the film.

Over the years, speculation about who should portray the novel’s characters in a movie version have been ongoing. Clint Eastwood was often mentioned as Hank Reardon. Rand herself, a fan of TV’s “Charley’s Angels,” mentioned Farrah Fawcett for the Dagny Taggart role. As it is, the selection of Grant Bowler as Reardon and Taylor Schilling as Dagny could not have been better. But Graham Beckel (brother of liberal commentator Bob Beckel) steals the show as entrepreneur Ellis Wyatt. Well-known supporting actor Michael Lerner (“Elf,” “Godzilla”) brings to life government villain Wesley Mouch. Matthew Marsden, who plays Dagny’s sinister brother, James Taggart, said he was honored to have a part in the film, but notes that, “unfortunately, that was not the case for many people out there,” referring to the reluctance of some actors who feared liberal Hollywood repercussions.

The Destruction From Within or What Is Wrong With Us?

 

Pictured here during his drug binging and destruction days, Robert Downey Jr. has turned his life and career around

Drug Days of Downey

The media circus that surrounds the self-absorbed, addicted lives of Charlie Sheen, Lindsay Lohan and numerous fallen “idols” overshadows the courage of other celebrities.

A rising star, Robert Downey Jr. appeared in several critically acclaimed films, including Chaplin, for which he was nominated for an Academy Award as best actor in 1992. During the years that followed he was frequently arrested on drug charges and went through several rehab programs. Despite several attempted comebacks, his appearances before court judges seemed pathetic as he was repeatedly given more chances. Following his last drug arrest in 2001 for cocaine use, Downey, nearly at the point of no return, decided on life instead of death and reached out for help.

His determination at staying clean and sober pulled his life together and revitalized his career, which has reached new heights. He has starred in

Back on Top with the award winning movie Holmes

Back on Top in Holmes

the hugely successful “Iron Man” movies and won a Golden Globe in 2010 for his performance in “Sherlock Holmes.” Like many addicts, he once blamed others for his problems. It was when he took responsibility for his own actions that he turned his life around. He credits his victory over drugs and alcohol to his family, therapy and the 12-step approach, which emphasizes turning an unmanageable self-centered life over to God.

Mickey Mantle was one of the best New York Yankee sluggers to ever live. But he could have been greater, maybe even equal to baseball’s legendary Babe Ruth, had he not destroyed his life with alcohol. Mickey’s father, uncle and grandfather died of Hodgkin’s disease at young ages. He never thought he’d see age 40 because of the hereditary disease. Despite winning three Most Valuable Player awards for the season, holding the record for most

World Series home runs and being called the “greatest switch hitter of all time,” Mantle was plagued by injuries throughout his career. Although it seemed to be bad luck, the injuries most likely stemmed from his partying lifestyle, particularly his drinking. After being a consistent .300 hitter, his career suddenly took a downturn in 1965

Mickey Mantle Yankee Great of the 50's and 60's lost his career to booze

Mickey Mantle, the Once Yankee Great

and he had to quit baseball in 1969. His drinking got worse during his retiring years, often caused by regrets over what could have been.

When he finally decided to give up the bottle, his liver was so damaged he needed a transplant. During the operation, doctors discovered a cancer, which was inoperable. Mickey lived for another year and a half and bravely came forward with a final message to his many lifelong fans. He confessed before news cameras that God had given him superior talents to play sports, but he “blew it” and insisted he was not a hero. “Don’t be like me,” Mantle pleaded. He died in 1995 at age 63. He had tried to beat a family curse with self-affliction. His courage to the end provided a valuable lesson. All of us have crosses to bear. They can be overcome through acceptance without tempting fate.