It was not by accident that in her novel, The Fountainhead, Rand made the evil Ellsworth Toohey a newspaper critic. Toohey’s power existed entirely in his ability to scribble his column and tell non-thinkers how to think. Toohey had no impact on individuals, thinkers and creators, and thus he attacked them, in a manner not different from the way reviewers have attacked Atlas Shrugged, Part 1.
Could reviewers have sensed Rand's attitude toward them in Atlas Shrugged, Part 1, in its non-stop promotion of individuals and independent thinking? Did the movie strike at the core?
How much more Ellsworth Toohey-like can you get than Roger Ebert's snarky comment about the movie and Rand's philosophy:
I figured it [the movie] might provide a parable of Ayn Rand’s philosophy that I could discuss. For me, that philosophy reduces itself to: "I’m on board; pull up the lifeline."But enough about Toohey (and Ebert), the movie itself is very true to the novel. It has been decades since I have read Atlas Shrugged, but the movie brought back memories of even the pace and tone of the novel.
That said, it is not like any other movie you will ever see. It is not about special effects. It is not about actors portraying real life characters. It is about actors portraying heroes and villains the way Rand created them in her novel. The stunning beauty, Bette Davis eyes, and heroic presence of Taylor Schilling would have been exactly what Rand would have wanted to see in an actress who portrays Dagny Taggart.
Most important about the movie is that it does the courageous and ignores conventions, in order to get Rand's ideas across (including her idea that one should ignore conventions). The movie is a movie about ideas. Ideas that can be discussed and debated for a long time. The movie was created in a manner to fit the novel and indeed it was successful in that. Other filmmakers won't and shouldn't mimic the style of this movie. This movie is about a very unique novel and is successful because it is created in a unique manner to fit the tone and theme of the novel. Form fitting function, if you will.
I have no idea how successful the movie will be in a popular sense, but I do suspect it will become an underground favorite for ages. It's a movie that can be seen many times, simply because of the number of ideas and concepts that are packed into the film.
There's a lot to Rand's philosophy, mostly good and some unusual (including her penchant for having heroes blow things up), and this film does a magnificent job of being true to Rand's ideas, which means there is very, very much that can be discussed. And, I do hope it is a commercial success so that there is a Part 2 and Part 3.