Visit the Official Atlas Shrugged Movie Web Site!
To Ayn Rand
, the New York City skyline spoke of the highest achievement of man's productive mind–of the best within us–and Tuesday night, December 7, that skyline seemed to blaze with a brighter, cleaner light. No one can say, of course; but I think and hope that Ayn Rand
would have accepted the tribute to her represented by that radiance. As for me, 48 years after I first read Atlas Shrugged
, at the age of 16, I experienced again something of that first liberation, passion, and hope.
At the historic Hudson Theater, in the Millennium Broadway Hotel, some 150 men and women gathered for a 10-minute preview of the Atlas Shrugged movie, part one, that will premier in theaters across America on April 15. The occasion became, for me, one of the most heartening–and, in the best sense, light hearted–I have had the pleasure to experience in a long time. I believe, now, based on what I saw, that many of you, and millions more, will share something of that joy starting April 15. (And feel free to enjoy the irony in that date of the premier–the audience Tuesday night laughed out loud.)
Can you give yourself, your receptivity, to the telling of a story that you have imagined, perhaps for decades, in the private theater of the mind? The answer, for me, was: yes, in about two minutes. The moment came for me in a scene where Dagny Taggart confronts her brother, James, after the disastrous train wreck on the Rio Norte Line. James Taggart's evasions and wishful thinking have caused this disaster.
Taggart Transcontinental cannot survive without the business of Colorado, but he has diverted crucial resources to a line that "serves" the People's Republic of Mexico and has waited endless months for desperately needed new rail to be delivered by his political buddy Orren Boyle.
I experienced again something of that first liberation, passion, and hope.
When Dagny Taggart storms into his office the morning of the crash, as beautiful and severe as a goddess of vengeance, it is INTEGRITY that is her demand, tool, and weapon. Integrity because the vision of a renewed and efficient rail line to profit from Colorado's booming economy can be made real only by the unbreakable link between vision and facts. With cold fire, Dagny informs James Taggart what she already has done that morning about those facts: ordered all rolling stock pulled out of Mexico and sent to Colorado, canceled the order for steel rails from Orren Boyle, and given Rearden Steel the order for the needed rails–to be made of Rearden Metal.
Friends, there it is, on the screen, in full color, for audiences across America: a business executive from whom integrity blazes in a moment of crisis–integrity as an essential virtue, as the only possible salvation in a crisis, and as the PRACTICAL tool of business as it deals with reality, not politics.
How many years of film, television, and newspapers filled with representations of businessmen as shifty, at best amoral, or just plain plodding, soulless materialists, can a scene like THAT redeem? I have no objective measure, but I can tell you that, somewhere within me, the scene dynamited away all that debris of envious sniping by midgets of the wide screen. And I felt something like the start of tears to see, made real on the screen, ideas many of us have worked and lived to keep alive in our world.
The scene dynamited away all that debris of envious sniping by midgets of the wide screen.
A scene like that can carry so much. That single scene is also the dramatic answer to those who would point to the pull-peddlers, sycophants, and mere manipulators on Wall Street or elsewhere in the business world and ask: how can you admire them? Here, in one arresting scene, is James Taggart, who represents businessmen who scheme to "take" their wealth by political pull and connections–and who cause catastrophes–and Dagny, who represents those who "make" their wealth by productive genius, dealing with reality in the only way it can be mastered: by the virtues of rationality. Here is the contrast, and who can miss it: the president and vice president, the brother and sister. The scene portrays one as heroic (and very beautiful) and the other as despicable. Your handy guide to clarifying a central confusion in today's business and political world.
Friends, that is just one brief scene from part one of the Atlas Shrugged movie.
Many who attended this premier were unfamiliar with Atlas Shrugged–or perhaps read it once, long ago, and came because they were merely intrigued. David Kelley, founder and CEO of the Atlas Society, set the scene for them: the context of the whole novel and the significance of what they were about to see–the portrayal of businessmen as heroes, MORAL heroes. I know his remarks will be published at some point by the Atlas Society.
John Aglialoro, whose incredible dedication and investment over 18 years made the Atlas Shrugged movie possible, introduced his fellow producer Harmon Kaslow and several other individuals essential in producing the first part of the movie. They then participated in a panel discussion moderated by John Fund of the Wall Street Journal. Stephen Moore, also of the Wall Street Journal, who wrote an article about Atlas Shrugged that has become the most-Googled, most-read WSJ feature in two years, discussed the political significance of Atlas Shrugged in the Tea Party movement and among senators and representatives recently elected to Congress.
The Atlas Society's David Kelley advised on the script.
Concluding this part of the evening, Frank Bond and Jay Lapeyre, past and present chairmen of the Atlas Society and themselves successful company builders, said something that I would like to second, here. The Atlas Society has worked for two years to set the new directions, and build the resources, to enable it to increase the philosophical, cultural, and political impact of the Atlas Shrugged movie. The Society's new Web site has every capability for reaching the movie's audience, at their crucial moment of openness to new ideas, with interpretation, amplification, and, yes, defense of the movie's personal significance for every viewer and its significance for the future of capitalism and freedom.
This will be both an intensive and extensive mission. The Society must be prepared for an intensive campaign of information, explanation, and reinforcement during the weeks the movie is in the theaters. But because the movie is in three parts, each separated by approximately a year, this is an opportunity for a sustained campaign to build understanding, excitement, and impact.
There is no organization in a better position to do this. John Aglialoro is a long-time trustee and major supporter of the Atlas Society, and David Kelley advised on the script. That guarantees close and continual cooperation between the Atlas Society and all other elements of the movie's publicity and marketing team. In this context, the special and indispensable role of the Atlas Society is as an interpreter of the movie's philosophical import. With David Kelley, Edward Hudgins, William Thomas, Roger Donway, and dozens of other Objectivist intellectuals–and all the resources of an interactive Web site, The New Individualist magazine, seminars and conferences, speaking engagements, TV talk-show appearances, op-ed publishing, and book publishing–the possibilities for catalyzing the intellectual and cultural impact of Atlas Shrugged are limitless.
The only limit to what the Atlas Society can accomplish is on financial resources to build, strengthen, and extend every capability for reaching the audiences of the movie. If you want to be involved in this opportunity for spreading our ideas–surely the greatest such opportunity since the publication of the novel–then become a member and supporter of the Atlas Society. If you choose to do so, or if you already are a member, then give some thought to what the intellectual, cultural, and political impact of the Atlas Shrugged movie is worth to you, personally. Then, please make your contribution–financial and intellectual, in money and time–at that level.
The possibilities for catalyzing the intellectual and cultural impact of Atlas Shrugged
I have been a trustee of the Atlas Society since the beginning, watching it struggle, grow, achieve its goals, and prepare to build on success. Now, all that hard work, experience, and marshaling of resources may have their greatest payoff.
I personally made a financial contribution–a very significant one, in my context–on the day of the Atlas Shrugged preview. I intend to keep contributing in weeks and months to come at a level commensurate with the importance that Ayn Rand and her work have had in my life, at a level worthy of my commitment to seeing those ideas come into their own–as they must come into their own if we, our children, and our country are to have a future.