My initial impressions? There are a lot of things to be critical about. But I am going to keep them to a minimum. Most of them just relate to time constraints and probably resulted to some extent from last-minute editing as much as a need to scale things down for a reasonable timeline. The one’s I’ll include here (as well as others I won’t mention) entail primarily things ‘left out’ that I thought crucial or at least very important.
From the anniversary party, the scene with the Reardon Metal bracelet should have been more of a ‘scene’ [as it was in a book]. Lillian was in the process of mock-raving about the bracelet [in the book] with some of her fellow society-types when Dagny interceded and offered an exchange. In the movie Dagny just walks up to her when she’s pretty much by herself.
I would have liked that to be more ‘in your face’, not so much to be an affront to Lillian in the presence of her ‘friends’ but to show how much Lillian’s attitude was an affront to Dagny. (not to mention to her husband)
Another great moment that was left out was when Dagny went to see Francisco to beg him for money to help with the starting of her rail line. I’m referring specifically to the line after she mentions the name of the ‘John Galt Line’ to Francisco’s horror. In the book she says “Let him come claim it!” and Francisco’s responds, “He will!”
The scene with Dr. Stadler at the State Science Institute, when he mentions the ‘three students’ was completely non-contiguous. Um ok, nice story – why are you mentioning this?
Yeah, I understand that it is important to the plot but it was so ‘shoe-horned’ into that scene with really no relevant context preceding it or following it.
Finally, they left out the change of mood in Ellis Wyatt at the celebration dinner after the successful first-run of the ‘John Galt Line’. It’s telling of his character and the truth behind the story. Wyatt was no pretender. He took the moment to rejoice but came back down (in the book) throwing his glass at the wall. You kind of get the impression later that he may be mulling things over when the knock comes to the door, but it’s not stated.
This is more of a personal peeve mainly because I think that the actor who plays Wyatt could have played that VERY well and I was looking forward to seeing it.
I was quickly made aware just how much they had to ‘condense’ and all-in-all I think it was a pretty good job (short of some of the omissions and incongruousness mentioned above). In many cases they pulled it off better than I thought it they might have.
As I sort of expected, some of the ‘feeling’ you get from Rand’s descriptions was made up for with the medium. (for example, I’m sure a lot of people might suggest that the party scenes and the pans over Colorado could have been shortened to make room for more content. But I’d suggest they go watch it again and see what kind of ‘sense’ they got from the extended pans and short spurts of dialogue or context woven between them)
I really liked the guy they picked for Francisco. He didn’t have a lot of dialogue and you don’t have the benefit of Rand’s verbose descriptions and backstory. They of course play him off as the latin playboy and dress him up slovenly and unshaven so you get the ‘sense’ again via the medium of the ‘act’ Rand had him portraying without the need for extra words. But the guy playing him could do things with subtleties that immediately alert you to more depth to Franky.
I also – and this surprised me – like what they are doing with James. The description in the book made me picture a guy that was older, and looked older. This guy comes off young and idiotic. (I was the only one in the theater that laughed in the scene where Dagny comes into his office to lay down the terms of her branch – once when I realized just what James was doing and again even louder when she ended it to get his attention) He comes off even more buffoonish as a slightly younger guy – thinking he’s a player with the ‘big boys’ he runs with – the ‘big boys’ of sway. But in reality he’s just a useful idiot to them.
The significance of the bridge was downplayed considerably as well, but I didn’t mention it in my criticisms because it was more than made up for by the bridge itself when you finally see it. Whoever designed the artwork for that bridge deserves a pat on the back. It looks impossible. But of course, the premise was that it was like no other bridge built before and was only made possible because of the metal with which it was made. Again, medium making up for lots of context.
Why the Movie Could be a Great Thing
Now…. as to why I think this movie is a good thing. As in good ‘beyond’ simply increasing interest in Rand’s ideas. It stems from something I realized not while or after watching the film, but from something that occurred to me unrelated to it on the way home.
I encourage anyone that sees this movie to make a few stops on their way home…
- hit the gas station
- hit the corner store or the supermarket
- stop at a department store
- turn the radio onto some station that occasionally has the news
What happened on the way home was nothing out of the ordinary. It was because ‘what happened on the way home was nothing out of the ordinary’ that I think this will be a good thing. The way home was only out of the ordinary due to the fact I was on my way home from watching this movie.
What actually happened was that it became hard to tell I was not still in the theater.
I noticed the rising price of gas. I saw a couple of closed up businesses. Part of the way was through a run down part of town where there were only a few sparse open businesses. One leg passes 3 distinct subdivisions that were half finished, further construction abandoned to empty, weed grown fields bordering the few interspersed 6 figure homes.
Ultimately, I stopped at the supermarket. I ended up confronted with an idiot running the self-checkout. I stood in line realizing I had been there with the same 6 people at each self-serve register long enough to have noticed the MOVEMENT OF THE MINUTE HAND on the clock on the wall.
When I finally got to a register, my own time at it was less than 20 seconds. But the device that prints the receipt was goofed up and the receipt was rolling inside it’s case.
I pointed this out to the morbidly obese girl at the console station used to monitor the self-serve-registers, but she was too busy on the phone desperately (but quite obviously with great difficulty and little success) trying to fix 2-3 other problems with other people at the other 5 registers. I turned around to notice that almost all of them were held up waiting for some interaction from her. I suspect this was also the case prior to my getting to one of the registers myself and likely was the reason for my prolonged wait (but my attention was pre-occupied at the time with thinking about the film while watching the minute hand move).
She was so busy she failed to even acknowledge my attempt to notify her of the problem with the receipt printer, no less hear me and thus be able to do anything about it. I suddenly saw images of the men on a stalled train in the book in my mind, shrugging when asked what they were going to do to get it moving again.
When I got back out to the car, I heard a news report on the radio about a leaked conversation from Obama daring the congress to ‘toy’ with his funding for ObamaCare. It then went into a discussion about a particular politician and his work with unions. There was more, but you get the idea.
Anyone that sees this movie that has read the book and enjoyed it will be disappointed by what is left out but equally excited to see something Rand on the big screen in a time like this.
Anyone that sees it that read the book and didn’t enjoy it is going to think some of the characters and depictions and gloss overs are almost comical, and – not much unlike the books and Rand herself – they’ll consider it a non-issue.
Anyone that sees it that hasn’t read the book is going to be made more curious and may – just may – look more into the ideas behind it.
But more importantly, anyone that has half a brain and is paying attention will notice what I noticed on the way home. The movie doesn’t end when you walk out of the theater.