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« Our Postmodern Judiciary | Main | Around The Fence »

Who Is Brad Galt?

Apparently, Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie bonded during the making of Mr. & Mrs. Smith by reading each other passages from Atlas Shrugged. Now they want to make a movie out of it.

As for stars, book provides an ideal role for an actress in lead character Dagny Taggart, so it's not a stretch to assume Rand enthusiast Angelina Jolie's name has been brought up. Brad Pitt, also a fan, is rumored to be among the names suggested for lead male character John Galt.

To answer the other obvious questions:

While Rand was still alive, she had script approval, complicating the process. After the author's death in 1982, Ruddy continued his efforts and, in 1999, he inked a pactpact to produce "Atlas" as a miniseries for TNT. Ultimately, the deal faltered.

The less obvious questions point to a book that's hard to dramatize. Would you even center it around a railroad anymore? Does "motive power" still inspire the way that it did in 1957?

In an era of unsurpassed innovation, will people take the book's projections of universal decay seriously? Is the US even the most free economy in the world any more? And if not, why can't others take up the slack? After all, people will leave the theater having seen a world in ruin, and immediately hop into their ultra-safe cars, download the soundtrack into their iPods, use their phone-PDAs to get directions to the nearest pizza joint, and then check their email on the way there.

The Coloradoan in me want to keep oil shale the center of attention, but I suspect that the first thing to go will be the railroad. The slow drying up of the supply of copper wire just isn't going to rivet audiences to their seats. Transportation will be important; nothing can illustrate the problem like gas prices, but I'm sure they'll be tempted to make Dagny the head of a large biotech, trying to bring a bird-flu vaccine to market ahead of the epidemic. Hank Rearden doesn't make steel, but a GMO corn that the NGOs won't let anyone grow. Naturally, a by-product of the corn is a key ingredient in the vaccine.

And there's the problem. Big Things, like trains and steel and great giant buildings move the spirit viscerally in a way that a petri dish just can't. And the visual image of the country slowly, inevitably, literally grinding to a halt under the accumulated weight of well-meaning taxes, regulation, and redistribution is going to be terribly hard to compress into two hours. It's moviemaking on the scale of the great war epics, and the last one of those took three films and nine hours.

I have no idea if this can be done well, and it would be better not done at all than done poorly. I do think the country's ready for it now, in a way that would have been inconceivable in, say, 1973. It might help alleviate some of the current economic illiteracy. Released in 2008, it might just remind enough people of the actual cost of all that "free" stuff the Democrats will be offering. Assuming it's set in the future, a few numbers from early-21st-century Eurosclerosis might connect it to the real world. And the sheer number of entrepreneurs out there might assure it of a sympathetic audience.

I am heartened to see that Miss Rand has made fans with this kind of star power even in the Heart of Darkness, er, Hollywood. At least, if the main movers and shakers have the right motivation, there's a chance that they'll make the right compromises rather than the wrong ones.


If they make the movie or series let,s hope they dont do the typical Hollywood twist and use it as a vehicle to carry the "Blame America First" theme. Script approval is a must as this is a powerful novel and could be just terrible in the wrong hands.

With these two (Pitt and Jolie), I don't see how it can possibly be as good as the Fountainhead, the 1949 movie starring Gary Cooper and Patricia Neal.

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