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Jolie's Atlas Shrugged gains screenplay

AngelinaJolie.jpgThe weighty tome of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged novel is almost finished the screenplay adaptation, and is set to come in at around two hours long. The film is the latest project for Angelina Jolie who has managed to go further than other big budget and big star productions have failed.

Each time the producers failed to push through with the project, but now with Brad Pitt's Plan B films behind it the completed screenplay is close and filming is set to start in 2008. Randall Wallace is the writer, the man who wrote the Scottish epic Braveheart, and the other revisionist tale Pearl Harbor as well as the stunning We Were Soldiers.

According to the story in the Guardian:

Atlas Shrugged is one of the most controversial books in modern literature. It is a passionate defence of Rand's belief that the world is best served when individuals act entirely in their own rational self-interest. Or, to put it more bluntly, they act selfishly. Rand, who died in 1982, founded the objectivist school of philosophy and still has millions of followers. Atlas Shrugged and another novel The Fountainhead promote her views. In financial circles Atlas Shrugged has been dubbed 'the bible of selfishness'.

But its popularity is undeniable. It has sold six million copies since it was published in 1957 with its grim prediction of an apocalyptic future in which America's elite thinkers, industrialists and artists go on strike and disappear...

...The strike results in the collapse of society. Heroine Dagny Taggart struggles to keep her firm alive in the face of increasing state control and searches for a mysterious man called John Galt, who is still living his life by free principles and who started the strike.

According to the insightful story in the paper, insiders are saying that it was Jolie who had the book and pushed the production, seeking out the backers for the film. A studio executive said:

'She has the book. It is not a passing thing for her. She has a real interest in Rand and her way of thinking,'

Well it certainly does sound like it matches her Hollywood persona. However you can tell why it had such a troubled path to receiving a finalised screenplay, as the story closes with the surprising fact:

Atlas Shrugged ends with a 60-page-long speech by Galt outlining the principles of objectivism.

I doubt we'll see that in the film. However I think we will see a very interesting film. After reading the article I'm genuinely interested in the novel, if somewhat daunted by the length.



The only Rand I've ever been able to bring myself to read is For The New Intellectual, which comprises an essay and excerpts from all her novels, with about half the book being made up of bits of Atlas Shrugged (including the entirety of John Galt speaking). COMPLETE ATROCITY. I find Rand philsophically dubious, but even if she wasn't, my God, what AWFUL writing. Atlas could well be the worst book I've ever come in contact with; I actually literally threw the thing away from me about halfway through John Galt's speech because I couldn't stand the atrocity any longer. Any temptation I might've felt to read the whole book vanished in an instant. Richard, mate, you have SO MANY BETTER THINGS to do with your time, believe me. Even if you don't, better to waste time doing nothing than waste it on this book.

There have been many failed attempts to make this book into a movie. Generally speaking, I don't know how it could be done well in a two hour movie. I've always thought it would be better done as a mini-series. In any event, I don't think it will float well in our current political climate.

It has been said that Jolie has been a huge advocate of Rand's ideas. Nevertheless, she pushes for government aid to Africa. This seems a bit contradictory.

I assume with Jolie and Pitt behind it, it will get done. Probably with Jolie in the Dagney Taggert role and Pitt as John Galt. And by the way, who is John Galt?

Thanks James, although your advice re the book was for Richard, I was waiting for someone to either recommend or dismiss it. I am looking for new books to read but it looks like it wont be this one now after James' post.

James, I take that advice straight to heart and I'm avoiding the book entirely. Thanks for the advice!

Conibear, you've not been keeping up with the other stories - She is playing the lead role, Pitt's only involvement (to date) is in running Plan B.

Speaking of Plan B isn't that production company not just Pitt's but also Aniston's? Interesting.

i can't wait to see this movie made!

Richard Brunton:

NO! Aniston said she took projects that interested her and relinquished her stake in the company.

I don't know Rand's work very well but I have read abstracts about this particular book and I think I did see the film The Fountainhead? with kirk Douglas??

The selfish nature of her ideals does contrast somewhat with Jolie's humanitarian work but I do believe that just because you read and enjoy something does not necesarily mean you believe in it 100%; or that it reflects your own private views. However it can lead to an expansion of your thinking.

oh sorry Richard, my comments are not for you but Simone.

Hey Taegan, thanks for the update on that, and welcome to Filmstalker, hope to see more of you here. ;)

To clarify: Ayn Rand was a Russian emigre who hated the Communist society she escaped as stifling individual initiative and destroying human incentive. Rand champions the opposite of Communism: Capitalism. Communism example: You work hard, but the government takes the money you earn in the form of taxes...as much as it wants. (What if Uncle Sam took 90% of your paycheck instead of 25-35%? No way? Think again. Congress actually taxed the wealthy that much prior to 1970.)

The Fountainhead, Rand's first novel, is based on the life of architect Frank Lloyd Wright, the innovative founder of modern architecture. The book caused as much a sensation as Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind: everybody was reading it, and waiting for the movie to be made. My mother told me if I only read one long book in my life, it should be The Fountainhead. She was right. It was so compelling I cut classes in college and read it for two days straight until I finished it. It's one of the five most influential books I've ever read

Wright's buildings were at first considered shocking because they deviated in form from the repeated, older, established styles. It is the story of the ostracism Wright encountered. It champions individualism, and freedom of individual expression. It has one of the best love stories ever: Howard Roark and Dominique Francon. The Fountainhead (allegory: Individualism is the fountainhead of society) was a very good 1949 movie staring Gary Cooper and Patricia Neal.

Rand's second epic, Atlas Shrugged, was never made into a movie. The allegorical title means: What if Atlas (the name now given to map books), the Greek god who held up the world, put the world down and said to heck with his burden? Atlas Shrugged is how a handful of truly creative, self-made corporate leaders got fed up with government interference (no: they are neither evil nor polluters) and decided to withhold their talent, going on strike. The world then grinds to a halt. Just as companies can't exist without workers, workers can't have employment and jobs without companies to work for. The love story between Dagny Taggert and John Galt is brief and tepid compared to the much more compelling Roark/Dominique love story in the Fountainhead.

You might be tempted to think I'm an arch-conservative. You would be wrong. I am in fact a liberal Democrat. But I am a "Thinking Man's Liberal," a pragmatist. Ayn Rand's novels are among the best books I've ever read and make valid points using fiction and allegory. Liberals: read both books. You will see the truth and validity in the "other side's" stance. Even liberals would not want to live in a Communist society. As bad as losing freedom of speech, press and assembly would be the loss of the ability to better yourself personally via your own creativity and hard work.

In my opinion, the ideas in Atlas Shrugged can provide for a very efficient and happy society when the following are also acknowledged and addressed:

1. Pure Capitalism would be great in a society of fully honest individuals. There need to be some controls outside the realm of pure capitalism in orer to keep things somewhat fair. Controls such as free education, healthcare, and a few laws that may restrict corporations slightly but keep dishonest ones out of the game.

2. We should have compassion for those who try and do not succeed, or cannot help themselvs - we cannot discount any member of society as long as they are working near their potential, and must take care of those who are unable to achieve all basic necessities.

Jeremy Northam for John Galt petition

If you would like to see the brilliant Jeremy Northam as John Galt in the movie “Atlas Shrugged”, please sign this petition which is being sent to Baldwin Entertainment, executive producers of the film.



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