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OCON: The Leading Conference on Atlas Shrugged and Ayn Rand’s Philosophy of Objectivism

This year’s conference — OCON 2011 — will be held from July 2–8 in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. In addition to the beauty of our beachfront setting, the Fort Lauderdale area offers a wide array of leisure and entertainment activities.

This year also marks the 75th anniversary of Ayn Rand’s We the Living, which we will mark with a special panel discussion featuring Drs. Shoshana Milgram, Robert Mayhew, and Onkar Ghate who will discuss the new chapters they have written for the forthcoming expanded edition of Essays on Ayn Rand’s “We the Living,” edited by Robert Mayhew. Two years ago, John Allison former CEO of BB&T delivered a lecture titled “Principled Leadership”; this year his lecture is titled “Teamwork and Independent Thinking.” Longtime Capitalism Magazine writer John David Lewis presents a special perspective on the thought and work of doctors based on his recent experiences as a patient in his new talk, “Individual Rights and Health Care Reform: A Patient’s Perspective.”

Other general session lectures will include: The Objectivist Movement: 50 Years Later by Yaron Brook; Individual Rights and Health Care Reform: A Patient’s Perspective by John David Lewis; Q&A with Interviewees in 100 Voices: An Oral History of Ayn Rand by Michael S. Berliner and others; The Culture of “Package-Dealing” by Peter Schwartz; What It Takes to Win: A Workshop on Defending Capitalism by Yaron Brook and Don Watkins; an Open Q&A by Yaron Brook and Onkar Ghate; Spaceflight as It Was—and as It Ought to Be by Andrew Lewis.

Optional classes include: Principles by Harry Binswanger; Ayn Rand and the Romantic School by Tore Boeckmann; History of the Supreme Court (part 1): The Least Dangerous Branch? by Eric Daniels; Egoism and Altruism by Gregory Salmieri; Bach and the 19th Century by Thomas Shoebotham; The Nature of Literary Heroism by Andrew Bernstein; Topics in Intellectual Property: The Computer and Biotech Revolutions by Adam Mossoff; The Philosophy of Immanuel Kant (part 2): Kant’s Moral Philosophy by Jason Rheins; To Imagine a Heaven—and How “Sense of Life” Can Help You to Claim It by Tara Smith;  The Measure of All Things by Robert Knapp; The History of Ancient Greece: The Early Fourth Century by John David Lewis; The Age of Discovery: Discovering the New World (c. 1300–c. 1600) by Andrew Lewis; and Ayn Rand, Private Investigator: Detection in Fiction and Philosophy by Shoshana Milgram.

There will be a variety of events and social opportunities for conference attendees as well, with opening and closing receptions, and an Independence Day BBQ dinner on July 4 at the Marriott Harbor Beach Resort and Spa.

Links: OCON 2011 Website

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Missing from the Atlas Shrugged Movie: The Spirit of Francisco Domingo Carlos Andres Sebastián d’Anconia

Thanks to the bumbling of the Atlas Movie producers, the Francisco d’Anconia of the movie bares little resemblance to the greatness of the character shown in Ayn Rand’s epic novel. The Ayn Rand Novels site has posted an excellent audio lecture by Shoshana Milgram on The Spirit of Francisco, that is definitely worth a listen.

“Francisco, more than anyone else,” commented Ayn Rand in 1961, “seems to have been Minerva in my mind—he came in ready-made.” Her journals on Atlas Shrugged contain few notes on the role of this major figure in the novel, yet he is perhaps her most vivid fictional characterization. Francisco d’Anconia—a key link between Atlantis and the outside world—epitomizes relentless ambition, elegant self-confidence and radiant joy.

This lecture, which draws on Ayn Rand’s hand-edited manuscripts, contrasts her revisions in refining this “ready-made” character, with the changes she made in the characters from all her novels for whom she had prepared extensive notes (such as Hank Rearden and Howard Roark).

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“Atlas Shrugged and Its Ideas,” an Online Exhibit

Atlas Shrugged and its Ideas is an online manuscript exhibit produced by the Ayn Rand Archives, a special collection of the Ayn Rand Institute. This exhibit features 15 high-resolution reproductions of handwritten pages selected from the manuscript of Rand’s controversial novel. The accompanying text panels highlight ideas dramatized in the novel, which are of ongoing relevance to our day.” — Exhibit Curator: Jeff Britting, archivist, Ayn Rand Archives

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Ayn Rand Institute’s Yaron Brook on the Atlas Shrugged Movie

Yaron Brook of the Ayn Rand Institute discusses the Atlas Shrugged movie and the message of the novel. Notable comments: ”Basically sticks to the story of the book…I went into the movie with low expectations…a lot of the movie is mediocre…characterization is not really fleshed out…complexity of Rearden character is missing…” and “When many of us read the book it changed our lives…it changed the way we thought about the world. I don’t believe anyone will walk into this movie…  and walk out of it … and say my life has been changed.”

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Atlas Shrugged Adaption “Competent” and “Credible” according to TOS Review

The Objective Standard (TOS) reviews Part 1 of the Atlas Shrugged Movie Adaption.

The review praises the acting of  Taylor Schilling (Dagny) and Grant Bowler (Rearden) for executing their parts near perfectly, while pointing out that:

…Each plot point is there, as is much of Rand’s dialogue sans most of the overt expressions of her philosophic viewpoint, which first-time director Paul Johansson does his best to illustrate instead through the actions of the characters and the events of the plot. For the most part, the script stays true to the novel while updating it in ways that do not blunt the power of Rand’s theme—no small feat.

The review summarizes that “Atlas Shrugged: Part I is not the novel and it does not pretend to be,” but that:

…It is a fairly competently made, credible adaptation of one of the most complex novels ever written. Even with its flaws, the film is enjoyable and has wonderful moments, including some in which it captures the power of the novel—such as the party during which Dagny gets the Rearden Metal bracelet, the scene during which Hank hands over his ore mine to Paul Larkin, and the already mentioned scene during which Dagny and Hank discover the motor. Fans of Ayn Rand’s masterpiece likely will enjoy these scenes in particular and appreciate the movie generally. Those unfamiliar with the story will probably enjoy the movie as well and may find their curiosity sufficiently piqued to read the book. If so, they will be even more richly rewarded. All in all, Atlas Shrugged: Part I will be a satisfactory journey for many viewers and could help increase awareness of Rand’s work.

Read the full review here.

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Aglialoro Atlas Shrugged Movie Screenplay is “Incomprehensible Gibberish” — Film Stage Review

Writes Timothy Farmer a The Film Stage in his [Review] Atlas Shrugged: Part I on whose dialogue he judges as “incomprehensible gibberish.”

[...] I haven’t a clue in hell what was rolling through John Aglialoro‘s and Brian Patrick O’Toole’s craniums when they wrote the screenplay. Somebody please have them admitted for a CAT scan ASAP.Meeting the script mediocrity head-on is production designer John Mott and his vacant style. Many scenes in the film are either too cluttered or severely lacking character. The book is extremely visual, essentially spelling out what needs to be purchased by the art department. Unfortunately, it seems Mott as if relied solely on Cliff Notes.

[...] There is absolutely no chemistry between the characters, not even a single metabolic drop. Blame it on not enough coverage, rehearsal, etc. The list is long. That said, the actors themselves are terrific, but still unable to escape lazy set-ups and sloppy subplots [...]

This is not good news. Thankfully, there are some redeeming qualities to the movie…

On a more upbeat note, Schilling’s Dagny Taggart is stunning, circumventing her wooden lines with pitch-perfect delivery. The way she composes herself while interacting with fellow cast mates radiates a tired screen, most especially those scenes she shares with Bowler as Henry Rearden. Edi Gathegi playing Eddie Willers and Jsu Garcia, who portrayed Fransisco D’Anconia, did well with their minor roles.

[...] It was neither compelling nor entertaining to watch. I was hyped on the thought that the book was finally being transformed after forty years into a film, yet had my doubts. My doubts won. [...]. C-

 Read the full review here.

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Atlas Shrugged Adaption Lacks Talent and Vision

The movie reviews for the Atlas Shrugged adaption have been making headlines. Perhaps the most interesting one comes from a reader commenting on a sort-of-review at Slate. (In the Slate review that best that we can learn is that “The actors and scenes are there to present Rand’s philosophy to the Twilight and Nicholas Sparks set.”) At the end of the review a reader named “Sean D’Aconnia” opines:

“[...]It is not all the glorious things that David Kelley or Barbara Branden claim it to be. In fact, it’s almost a beautiful mess but doesn’t quite reach that level because it’s not beautiful really, although there are some scenes that could have been. You can almost taste it at times. But that’s because I know the novel.
 
The friend who invited me to the screening commented to me that “Atlas Shrugged Part 1″ is ‘not as bad as we think it is.’  Unfortunately, it is.”

[..]  While I enjoyed the actor playing “Hank Rearden”, the direction was just not up to a standard befitting a movie version of Atlas Shrugged, and changes to the story were not handled well. [...] In fact, it was not lack of budget that
ruined this film – it was lack of talent and vision.

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Atlas Shrugged Movie Producer Comments Make Charlie Sheen Seem Like The Voice of Sanity

From The Daily Caller:

[...] John Aglialoro, the producer of the movie adaptation of the classic Ayn Rand novel “Atlas Shrugged,” hinted that part three of the movie trilogy might be made as a musical.

“But you know, part three could be a musical . . . like a Les Miserables kind of a musical,” said Aglialoro. “That’s part of the impact and I guess I haven’t said this publicly yet, but I’m looking at it completely different if part three is a musical with quality music that’s done in a certain way that people will like.”

[...] Aglialoro, who held the movie rights and toiled over adapting the novel to film for 18 years, told TheDC he wants to shock audiences with the final installment: “I mean, if you saw the play Les Miserables without the music, and then with the music, you may go in there saying, ‘oh hell, I would never want to see that great book in a musical.’ That’s going to shock a lot of people to see part 3 be a musical, and part 2 may be very different from part 3 and very different from part  1. It has to be new, you know . . . We get a freshness, a vitality about it, and yet it has the same, rock-solid principles and philosophies that we all know and love.”

Clueless. If the AS movie bombs Mr. Aglialoro will be the reason for it.

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Grand Prize of $10,000 in 2011 Atlas Shrugged Essay Contest

The Atlas Shrugged Essay Contest is open to 12th Graders, College Undergraduates, and Graduate Students from all over the world with an entry deadline of September 17, 2011. FIRST PRIZE: $10,000; 3 SECOND PRIZES: $2,000; 5 THIRD PRIZES: $1,000; 25 FINALISTS: $100; 50 SEMIFINALISTS: $50. Entrants must write an essay on one of the following topics:

1. What do you think is meant, in Part III of Atlas Shrugged, by the phrase “utopia of greed”?
2. Why does Francisco D’Anconia, heir to the greatest fortune in the world and a productive genius with boundless ambition, change his course and pose as, of all things, a playboy?
3. What does the story of Atlas Shrugged have to say about the relative powers of good and evil and the conditions under which one is victorious over the other?

The winning applicant will be judged on both style and content. Judges will look for writing that is clear, articulate and logically organized. Winning essays must demonstrate an outstanding grasp of the philosophic meaning of Atlas Shrugged.

To learn more visit: Atlas Shrugged Essay Contest.

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Impressive: Holleran on the Atlas Shrugged Movie Trailer

Writes Scott Holleran on his blog on the forthcoming Atlas Shrugged movie:

Having seen a sneak preview of the trailer, scheduled to open in select theaters on April 15, I must say that this low-budget effort looks better than I had expected.

Exciting enough for the uninitiated, substantial enough for Objectivists and Ayn Rand fans, the trailer opens with a man named Midas Mulligan, met by a shadowy figure who has something important to say.

From there, we see skylines, speeding trains, and men of steel (including Ellis Wyatt, Hank Rearden, and, of course, Dagny Taggart), and the action and drama never let up.

The trailer looks crisp, clean and polished and wraps with the question: Who is John Galt? A tag-on teases “…Ask the Question.” This is the world’s first movie about Ayn Rand’s epic theme, the mind on strike, and, though it is impossible to gauge a movie’s merits on the basis of a trailer, for what it’s worth, I’m impressed.

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