Saturday, October 28, 2006

The Atlas Shrugged movie challenge

Most Objectivists are aware by now that a movie version of Ayn Rand's Atlas Shrugged is in production, featuring Randall Wallace ("Braveheart," "Pearl Harbor") as screenwriter, Angelina Jolie as Dagny Taggart, and tolerationist-in-chief David Kelley as consultant. While hope springs eternal, I wager the movie will be a disaster on the terms that are most important to us, and that it will likely be attacked in the press as a vanity project for a bunch of egotistical Hollywood types.

There's a big silver lining in all this, no matter how awful the movie proves to be, or just how vicious the denunciations of Objectivism that result from it are, and that’s the simple fact that Atlas Shrugged will be in the news, and there is no way that can be a bad thing.

In fact, there are a lot of things that we can do to capitalize on an Atlas movie, and here's just one idea. Since one of the elements that will greatly impact the quality of the movie will be how well Ayn Rand's ideas are brought to screen (including the challenging job of culling Galt’s radio address), why not create a "Galt's challenge" for film students. Say for a top prize of $50,000, we run a competition that would have film students present excerpts from Galt's speech totaling no more that five minuets, but with the goal of dramatizing the presentation of Galt's speech in film.

This way, if the movie makes a muck of it because of the inherent challenges in encapsulating a climax that takes the shape of a three hour radio address, one could point to the film contest winners to show examples of how the various entrants worked to get the presentation right. Put the best on YouTube, and let the world beat a path to your door.

To pull the contest off, one would have to hire an IP expert to make sure that student’s use of Atlas snippets falls under fair use. Beyond that, I think it would be a fantastic way to present Ayn Rand's ideas, and good way to counter any weakness in the Atlas Shrugged movie.


Anonymous said...

Actually the IP is the biggest problem. The movie companies themselves might see the whole contest as "unfair competition" in the sense that their contracts probably guarantee them the **exclusive** right to make a movie based on Atlas Shrugged, or any part of Atlas Shrugged.

However, once the movie is made, and has had its run in theaters, I'm pretty sure the rights would revert to the estate of Ayn Rand. It might then be possible to make a better movie.

Of course I haven't read the actual contract, the one that grants the movie companies the right to make this film at all. So their exclusive rights might not be that exclusive, or they might not ever revert to the author's estate, either. One would have to scrutinize its terms carefully.

Apollo said...

"I wager the movie will be a disaster on the terms that are most important to us"

I don't think the word "disaster" is stront enough. If Angelina Jolies and Brad Pitts private life is any indication; and it is, she ddoes not understand Atlas Shrugged.

But here is another indication, what other kind's of "art" do Angelina and Brad Pitt enjoy?
Here is an example,

One of the art works is called "Picnic", "that depicts a family of white people eating while several Africans look on hungrily." Another one has a beutiful Greek sculpture with a bullet through it's head.

They are all from an artists called Bansky, by the way one of his other art works is called "No More Heroes" How Original . . .

coreyo said...

I dont think anyone argues for the integrity of Jolie of Pitt's philosophical stances. The only thing the argue is that they are talented enough actors to pull it off.

By the way, I really like the contest idea. I think it's plausible and should be examined more closely.

Roger Theriault said...

Actually, since I heard about the movie effort years ago, I never thought that Galt's speech would have to be pared down to fit into a short scene. Many movies use voice-over narration (think "The Shawshank Redemption"), and I always thought the movie could use Galt's speech as a similar mechanism. As the movie progresses, and as each scene unfolds, the part of Galt's speech (or some edited version therefrom)that was philosophically appropriate to the scene could be voiced-over. The excerpts could occur more often as the movie progressed, with a final cut to the studio where Galt would finish up.

I'm not a filmmaker, and some experts would probably say, "That's why - what a dumb idea", and I'm sure something like that would be just as challenging as paring the speech down to one scene, but you could certainly get a lot more of it into the movie.

david said...

Wow -- Roger, that actually sounds like a pretty good idea.