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Finally…

26 July 2010 @ 14:04

Just when it appeared as though the filmmakers who owned the rights to film Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged had ‘gone Galt’, word comes that the shooting of Part 1 of what will be a trilogy is well underway.

From Big Hollywood’s John Nolte [via Smitty, via Morgan Freeberg, via Pancho], we learn:

Throughout the decades, stars from Barbara Stanwyck to Angelina Jolie have expressed interest in bringing the novel to life, but it’s going to be producers Harmon Kaslow and John Aglialoro who finally break the curse. Directed by Paul Johansson, who also stars as John Galt, and co-starring Taylor Schilling as Dagny Taggart and Matthew Marsden as James Taggart, principal photography wrapped this very day. Which means…

Yes, there will be an “Atlas Shrugged” movie. Well, at least a part one.

The plan is to film it in three parts [Good Lord willing — sorry Ayn], the same structure as the novel.

Mr. Nolte’s report is very informative as he has talked with the filmmakers and one of the Big Hollywood staff has visited the set several times, so please do take the time to click here and read the full report.

Over at Libertas Film Magazine, Jason Apuzzo comments:

I’m sure that everyone involved in the project would call it a coincidence, but it’s fascinating to me that this project – which has been developed in fits and starts at least since the 1970’s – would finally come to life in an era when … America’s most productive citizens are feeling the squeeze of government taxation and regulation more than ever, and more industries are being nationalized. Because that’s essentially what Atlas Shrugged is about: how America’s most productive citizens essentially decide to ‘drop out’ of productive life, after feeling the bite of excessive exploitation by the government.

What also fascinates me is that the project is not coming to life as some studio-backed, behemoth production starring Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz (ahem). It’s being made essentially as a scrappy indie production by people who are obviously passionate about the film’s message. [I know some of you are saying: a $5 million budget is ‘scrappy’? It certainly is if you’re trying to shoot Atlas Shrugged!] Isn’t this perfectly reflective of the current Tea Party phenomenon? A phenomenon whereby regular citizens working outside the usual channels harness their passion to hit the streets and make things happen.

That last point he makes is why it is most definitely a good sign who the people are that are making it.  If they bring a TEA Party spirit to the enterprise, then the translation to screen will be faithful enough, I think.  Maybe it will have been worth the wait.

Over at House Of Eratosthenes, we find out that Morgan has engaged in some dream casting:

Pictured at right is Taylor Schilling, who is cast as Dagny Taggart. I had Dagny pegged as brunette — a studious, anal-retentive, details-oriented, sexually-repressed, Madam Librarian brunette.

Hey, when the goddamn thing is 1,100 pages long these mental images are important.

I always pegged Mel Gibson for Hank Rearden. No way in hell is that going to happen at this point.

Miss Shilling has the look in that picture he supplies, although I have no idea as to how good an actress she is.  For years in my dream casting of the movie, I had a lot of trouble coming up a good choice for Dagny, then came Angelina Jolie and she was near-perfect.

I always like the idea of Charlton Heston for Hank Reardon, Rutger Hauer as Ragnar Danneskjöld, and Tom Selleck as Francisco.  I always thought Robert Redford could do John Galt.  As you can tell, I did my prime casting in the late 1970’s.

One quibble with the real casting: damn fine character actor Michael O’Keefe [you know the face, not the name] has been cast as Hugh Atkinson [‘renowned philosopher and the head of the Department of Philosophy at Patrick Henry University, where he taught Francisco d’Anconia, John Galt, and Ragnar Danneskjöld’].  He most certainly can play the role, but I think he would have been better cast as James Taggert, the sniveling weasel brother of Dagny.  Mr. O’Keefe has the chops for that role.  I just don’t know if Matthew Marsden has.

5 Comments
  1. Erich Madden permalink
    27 July 2010 @ 04:01 04:01

    Just be thankful that Angelina Jolie version never got made! Physical appearance aside, that would not be pretty!

    • bobbelvedere permalink*
      27 July 2010 @ 07:50 07:50

      Erich: I would agree because she can be such a demanding diva. But, it must be admitted, she had the looks and the acting chops for it. The hardest part of translating Atlas to the screen is finding actors who can pull off melodramatic dialogue – make it credible. That is one of the reasons why I thought Chuck Heston would have worked. I think Mrs. Pitt could have too.

  2. Tonestaple permalink
    27 July 2010 @ 12:59 12:59

    I see one problem already: Dagny and Francisco were childhood friends, the same age or pretty close, but the actor playing Francisco is 20 years older than the actress playing Dagny. That should be interesting. I think the actress playing Dagny looks right, although I too think brunette (with, from the book, gun-metal gray eyes), but she’s awfully young.

    • bobbelvedere permalink*
      27 July 2010 @ 17:12 17:12

      Tonestaple: Her age does concern me. As for Francisco looking older [and the same goes for Hank] both men have worked a lot outdoors so their faces, I think, would look more ‘lived-in’. Who could play Dagny, so many actresses the right age are, frankly, binks.

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