Atlas Shrugged Producer John Aglialoro on Ayn Rand's Enduring Impact


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Plan 9 from Outer Space is a work of inadvertent cinematic genius forever in a class by itself. These Atlas movies can't touch it.

"Great jumping dust bunnies, this thing makes Plan 9 from Outer Space look like the original specs for the Apollo 11 moon launch. How bad is Atlas III? It’s lead-based paint bad. It’s asbestos in the nursery bad." http://www.intercollegiatereview.com/index.php/2014/09/17/this-is-john-galt/

"I loved this movie in the same way I loved Plan 9 From Outer Space... Run-of-the-mill bad films are boring and uninteresting. But now and then a classically horrible film comes along that deserves notice for being so utterly ridiculous." http://sbj.net/main.asp?SectionID=18&SubSectionID=23&ArticleID=89356

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The general incompetence on display in the cinematic works of Kaslow-Aglialoro is so monumental that they may well be contenders for cult bad movies, products so shamefully rotten that they are sought out by fans who enjoy ridiculing them. Thus we may soon see the Atlas movies on a "best worst" list that includes Reefer Madness and Plan 9 from Outer Space

That's ridiculous. You've just got a hard-on for having art-panic attacks. You don't like something so you completely blow it out of proportion and act like the fucking world is going to end. You wrote in the same frantic, overblown terms on that silly thread about architecture: http://www.objectivistliving.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=14488

Get a grip.

J

I agree that the egregious quality of AS 1,2 & 3 is not equivalent to the end of the world. That you found such apocalyptic warnings in my criticisms of the films (and of most contemporary architecture), shows that you have a rather vivid imagination.

Judging by your choice of language, it seems that there's more panic gushing from your side of the gray line than mine.

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The general incompetence on display in the cinematic works of Kaslow-Aglialoro is so monumental that they may well be contenders for cult bad movies, products so shamefully rotten that they are sought out by fans who enjoy ridiculing them. Thus we may soon see the Atlas movies on a "best worst" list that includes Reefer Madness and Plan 9 from Outer Space


That's ridiculous. You've just got a hard-on for having art-panic attacks. You don't like something so you completely blow it out of proportion and act like the fucking world is going to end. You wrote in the same frantic, overblown terms on that silly thread about architecture: http://www.objectivistliving.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=14488

Get a grip.

J

I agree that the egregious quality of AS 1,2 & 3 is not equivalent to the end of the world. That you found such apocalyptic warnings in my criticisms of the films (and of most contemporary architecture), shows that you have a rather vivid imagination.

Judging by your choice of language, it seems that there's more panic gushing from your side of the gray line than mine.

Seriously? You didn't get that I was mimicking you and your overblown panicking?

J

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Plan 9 from Outer Space is a work of inadvertent cinematic genius forever in a class by itself. These Atlas movies can't touch it.

"Great jumping dust bunnies, this thing makes Plan 9 from Outer Space look like the original specs for the Apollo 11 moon launch. How bad is Atlas III? It’s lead-based paint bad. It’s asbestos in the nursery bad." http://www.intercollegiatereview.com/index.php/2014/09/17/this-is-john-galt/

"I loved this movie in the same way I loved Plan 9 From Outer Space... Run-of-the-mill bad films are boring and uninteresting. But now and then a classically horrible film comes along that deserves notice for being so utterly ridiculous." http://sbj.net/main.asp?SectionID=18&SubSectionID=23&ArticleID=89356

"Notice I didn’t mention character development. The characters are reliably screed thin, two-dimensional sounding boards for Rand’s theories. But the screenwriters in Parts I and II were at least able to shape human-sounding sentences. Here, everyone sounds like they’re reading the Accounting practices employed at the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, an institution no one involved with this film need ever worry about associating with in any capacity."

That's what most critics say about the novel's characters.

"I found the novel overly preachy and the dialogue stilted and wooden."

So, why would she expect the film to be any different? The film is bad because its creators didn't improve on Rand and get rid of the stilted woodenness?

"The cinematography, however, is atrocious. The lighting is crisp and the colors sharp, so I could see everything that was happening."

According to the Objectivist Esthetics, crisp lighting and sharp colors would be "objective" reasons to adore the cinematography.

J

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There you go Wolf...with all those negative waves...

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I have to be honest about this. I'm embarrassed to be associated with anyone who quotes Donald Sutherland.

Well then feel free to blush.

I thought I was quoting the character he was playing.

What do you have against Southerland?

A...

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Seriously? You didn't get that I was mimicking you and your overblown panicking?

J

I wasn't aware that laughter is a sign of panic.

It can be in rare cases, but this is an out of yours and Wolf's context remark.

--Brant

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Seriously? You didn't get that I was mimicking you and your overblown panicking?

J

I wasn't aware that laughter is a sign of panic.

Laughter isn't a sign of panic. You're not laughing, but worrying about a generation who won't be converted to Objectivism because you think the movie was so bad. Your posts are uptight. You're fretting about the movie's quality, not laughing about it, just as you were fretting about buildings on the architecture thread -- about a "much needed" design "revolution," and about "dramatic change" being "badly needed." You're an art-panicker. You like to piss and moan and preach doom.

J

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Clearly, you have me mixed up with someone else. I am not an Objectivist. I disagree with Rand on nearly everything, with the exception of the moral and practical need for laissez-faire capitalism. I am not interested in converting anyone to Objectivism--although it's worth pointing out that such was the apparent aim of the producers, and now what do they have to show for it?

If there is doom--it won't be mine.

As I made clear in my review of this movie on this thread, http://www.objectivistliving.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=14641&p=217206 Atlas Shrugged is an unintentionally hilarious film. It is on the order of Plan 9 from Outer Space. The fact that I am not the only one to say so, might suggest there is a nugget of truth in the comparison. The only possible bright spot is that over the years it might become a camp classic and return its financiers' investment through DVD sales.

If I have pointed out how far the movie deviates from the style and content of the novel, it is only to show how clueless the filmmakers were about the original property. They must have skipped the big book and read an internet summary instead. Had another team put the socialist Looking Backward on film and made the same number of errors, I'd be ridiculing them too.

Of course, if you would like to challenge anything specific I said about this turkey, go ahead. You've seen it. You apparently liked it more than I. Now is the time to speak on its behalf.

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Okay, "Frisco," I will speak on its behalf (with some caveats)!

Perhaps, before we join all those "well-intentioned" :unsure: movie critics who are universally condemning the movie, we should consider whether these same critics would have praised it, if Aglialoro had had the financial backing (which he did not) to have hired the most popular and expensive director, producer, writers, cinematographers, and cast - and then had spent the requisite $100 million plus to complete the movie.. Would these same critics then praise the resulting movie?

If their track record on lambasting Ayn Rand is any indication of their ultimate intent, they would instead increase their levels of condemnation and scorn, much worse then we see now. Because it is her message, her philosophy, that they hate. No amount of money, no amount of professionalism, no amount of talent invested in the movie would change their views for the better.

.

So, why wasn't a huge amount of money from the "captains of industry" and commerce invested in this movie? After all, the Left claims Rand is the defender of special privileges for Big Business, So shouldn't they be showing their appreciation and enthusiasm, and mega-bucks on a film glorifying their role?. Why didn't this happen? Because, contrary to the Leftist mythology, Atlas Shrugged is NOT about defending or promoting Big Business or crony capitalists.In fact, it is just the opposite. Those that have (actually) read it, know this. Big Business loves "corporate welfare," or "crony capitalism," and they are not about to finance or promote any political-economic philosophy that threatens their special privileges..

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Perhaps, before we join all those "well-intentioned" movie critics who are universally condemning the movie, we should consider whether these same critics would have praised it, if Aglialoro had had the financial backing (which he did not) to have hired the most popular and expensive director, producer, writers, cinematographers, and cast - and then had spent the requisite $100 million plus to complete the movie.. Would these same critics then praise the resulting movie?

Short answer about movie critics, yes -- Keanu Reeves as Galt, Anne Hathaway as Dagny, Barry Sonnefeld directing, four stars easy.

But there were flies in the grease paint. Pages ago, I raised an eyebrow at the "lease of film rights" from Peikoff.

Aglialoro holds merchandising, ancillary, derivative, prequel, sequel, and remake rights -- unless he signed a very goofy deal letter outside the customary terms of the entertainment industry... which, now that I think about it, may very well explain why Lionsgate backed out, perhaps on advice of counsel.

Second problem with a $100 million film deal was Aglialoro. His wife Joan explained that Aglialoro initially tried to package it with Peikoff approved schlubs (Craig Anderson producer, Gloria Alter assoc producer, Karen Arthur director, Cynthia Peikoff screenplay). If they had succeeded in funding that 1996 deal, the result would have been infinitely worse than the Part 1 junk that was thrown together by horror hacks Kaslow and O'Toole -- another stupendously brainless decision by Aglialoro, who had no experience or business acumen as a film producer. The only chance Aglialoro had get a studio-funded A-list adaptation of Atlas on screen was to step aside entirely. His negotiation with Angelina Jolie's people went nowhere. Floating sleezeball Vadim Perelman as director (House of Sand and Fog - drug addict meets corrupt cop) was another piece of amateur hour insanity.

Third problem: adapting Atlas for the screen as a single movie of 175 minutes was the right way to go, which Al Ruddy pitched in 1972. If Ruddy and Coppola could squeeze The Godfather into 175 minutes and win 3 Oscars including Best Picture, then why the hell not Atlas Shrugged? It was the right move for Aglialoro to go hat in hand to Al Ruddy after the Baldwins flopped -- but too late, as in 20 years too late, because Ruddy's career was kaput. He couldn't even make a TV deal stick.

The way Hollywood works today is strictly a question of top billing. Who is John Galt? Dagny? Hank Rearden? -- and everything else comes second. No stars attached, no deal, no matter how much money is on the table. It could have been a great movie, and the key to making it happen was casting libertarian Kurt Russell as Hank Rearden.

No understanding of how Hollywood works, no vision of Atlas as a blockbuster -- Aglialoro made stinky amateur mud pies.

Hollywood Reporter and Variety were objectively right to pan it.

"a low-grade TV soap opera, with acting to match... Rand would have been embarrassed" - Variety

"Atlas Shrugged was never properly reconceived for a modern audience" - Hollywood Reporter

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Okay, "Frisco," I will speak on its behalf (with some caveats)!

Perhaps, before we join all those "well-intentioned" :unsure: movie critics who are universally condemning the movie, we should consider whether these same critics would have praised it, if Aglialoro had had the financial backing (which he did not) to have hired the most popular and expensive director, producer, writers, cinematographers, and cast - and then had spent the requisite $100 million plus to complete the movie.. Would these same critics then praise the resulting movie?

If their track record on lambasting Ayn Rand is any indication of their ultimate intent, they would instead increase their levels of condemnation and scorn, much worse then we see now. Because it is her message, her philosophy, that they hate. No amount of money, no amount of professionalism, no amount of talent invested in the movie would change their views for the better.

.

So, why wasn't a huge amount of money from the "captains of industry" and commerce invested in this movie? After all, the Left claims Rand is the defender of special privileges for Big Business, So shouldn't they be showing their appreciation and enthusiasm, and mega-bucks on a film glorifying their role?. Why didn't this happen? Because, contrary to the Leftist mythology, Atlas Shrugged is NOT about defending or promoting Big Business or crony capitalists.In fact, it is just the opposite. Those that have (actually) read it, know this. Big Business loves "corporate welfare," or "crony capitalism," and they are not about to finance or promote any political-economic philosophy that threatens their special privileges..

Big money does not always mean big quality. The Atlas movies could have been made with a budget equivalent to Waterworld (the most expensive movie ever made at the time, 1995) and still had the same disastrous outcome. More importantly, there have been quite a few low budget movies that didn't have to sacrifice quality for lack of funds. Mad Max, Dr. Strangelove, and Being John Malkovich, three great movies set in the future, come to mind.

You may be right: no matter how good Atlas the Movie turned out to be, the liberal establishment's attack dogs would have shredded it. But, face it, Aglialoro and Kaslow wrote a lousy script, blew a small fortune on incompetent directors and miscast actors and ended up with a film that richly deserves to be attacked--by people of all persuasions.

Atlas is my least favorite Rand novel. Still, Rand thought cinematically and there is much in the book that would transfer well to the screen. If Aglialoro and Kaslow had given us a work marred by a few gaffes and weak production values but at least distinguished by heart and spirit and--what's the term?--sense of life, I'd praise it to the skies no matter what the critics said.

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Okay, "Frisco," I will speak on its behalf (with some caveats)!

Perhaps, before we join all those "well-intentioned" :unsure: movie critics who are universally condemning the movie, we should consider whether these same critics would have praised it, if Aglialoro had had the financial backing (which he did not) to have hired the most popular and expensive director, producer, writers, cinematographers, and cast - and then had spent the requisite $100 million plus to complete the movie.. Would these same critics then praise the resulting movie?

If their track record on lambasting Ayn Rand is any indication of their ultimate intent, they would instead increase their levels of condemnation and scorn, much worse then we see now. Because it is her message, her philosophy, that they hate. No amount of money, no amount of professionalism, no amount of talent invested in the movie would change their views for the better.

.

So, why wasn't a huge amount of money from the "captains of industry" and commerce invested in this movie? After all, the Left claims Rand is the defender of special privileges for Big Business, So shouldn't they be showing their appreciation and enthusiasm, and mega-bucks on a film glorifying their role?. Why didn't this happen? Because, contrary to the Leftist mythology, Atlas Shrugged is NOT about defending or promoting Big Business or crony capitalists.In fact, it is just the opposite. Those that have (actually) read it, know this. Big Business loves "corporate welfare," or "crony capitalism," and they are not about to finance or promote any political-economic philosophy that threatens their special privileges..

Big money does not always mean big quality. The Atlas movies could have been made with a budget equivalent to Waterworld (the most expensive movie ever made at the time, 1995) and still had the same disastrous outcome. More importantly, there have been quite a few low budget movies that didn't have to sacrifice quality for lack of funds. Mad Max, Dr. Strangelove, and Being John Malkovich, three great movies set in the future, come to mind.

You may be right: no matter how good Atlas the Movie turned out to be, the liberal establishment's attack dogs would have shredded it. But, face it, Aglialoro and Kaslow wrote a lousy script, blew a small fortune on incompetent directors and miscast actors and ended up with a film that richly deserves to be attacked--by people of all persuasions.

Atlas is my least favorite Rand novel. Still, Rand thought cinematically and there is much in the book that would transfer well to the screen. If Aglialoro and Kaslow had given us a work marred by a few gaffes and weak production values but at least distinguished by heart and spirit and--what's the term?--sense of life, I'd praise it to the skies no matter what the critics said.

That's a decent critique.

My least favorite Rand novel was her first. This not to say I disliked it but it hadn't the alternate reality feel of her following work. Also, I so dislike the Soviet Union I don't like such a vivid experience of what it was like.

My favorite is The Fountainhead because it so self-contained and more smoothly literarily than Atlas. Each of her novels shows a big step-up in the style of writing because of the author's huge brain and the sheer need to match up with what she wanted to express. I recommend The Fountainhead as a first read. You can enter that world completely and will come out whole. Too many people enter the world of Atlas Shrugged and come out all screwed up not knowing they had left their individualism and its necessary intellectual autonomy behind. That's what happened to Rand and she never got out and, obviously, never wanted to or even understood what had happened to her.

Unlike Ellen, who seems never to have been taken that way by the novel or Objectivism--classic Objectivism is a pure extension of the novel--I got trapped too; it took me many years if not decades to transition back into what I'd call human normality with one big difference: I am a modern man. Take it as a boast, but for me it's just a fact, albeit dour. Like Rand I feel like an adult in a world of children. Unlike Rand, I'm more accepting of that. Psychologically and philosophically I am a human being for a quite different future. That doesn't mean you can pull me out of this world and put me into the world of, say, 1000 years from now. Unlike humans of a thousand or more years ago, humans a thousand years from now will be so much more intelligent and self-evolved through biological manipulation--biology is the big future of technology--I would be out of place and something of a moron--a curiosity. You might see me in a zoo interacting with my fellow time travelers in our "natural habitat."

--Brant

the missing link?

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...My least favorite Rand novel was her first. This not to say I disliked it but it hadn't the alternate reality feel of her following work. Also, I so dislike the Soviet Union I don't like such a vivid experience of what it was like.

My favorite is The Fountainhead because it so self-contained and more smoothly literarily than Atlas. Each of her novels shows a big step-up in the style of writing because of the author's huge brain and the sheer need to match up with what she wanted to express. I recommend The Fountainhead as a first read. You can enter that world completely and will come out whole. Too many people enter the world of Atlas Shrugged and come out all screwed up not knowing they had left their individualism and its necessary intellectual autonomy behind. That's what happened to Rand and she never got out and, obviously, never wanted to or even understood what had happened to her.

You always write interesting things. Like yourself, I can't read We The Living any more. Way too sad. And like yourself, I deem The Fountainhead her finest work. Regarding Atlas, again I agree. It's heady stuff that threw me for a loop, launched me on a crusade with substantial life-wasting (and life-giving) consequences.

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Clearly, you have me mixed up with someone else. I am not an Objectivist. I disagree with Rand on nearly everything, with the exception of the moral and practical need for laissez-faire capitalism. I am not interested in converting anyone to Objectivism--although it's worth pointing out that such was the apparent aim of the producers, and now what do they have to show for it?

I see, you're not an Objectivist. So I misidentified you as being uptight and fretting about people not being converted by the films to Objectivism. You're actually uptight and fretting about their not being converted to laissez-faire capitalism.

If there is doom--it won't be mine.

Yeah, I don't think that you feel doomed, or that you like doom per se, but rather that you like the feeling of being above the doom. You seem to really enjoy finding something to bitch about so that you can feel superior to it.

As I made clear in my review of this movie on this thread, http://www.objectivistliving.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=14641&p=217206 Atlas Shrugged is an unintentionally hilarious film.

Your review doesn't sound like laughter. It sounds like bitching and disappointment. It comes across as too personal and important to you to be laughter.

If I have pointed out how far the movie deviates from the style and content of the novel, it is only to show how clueless the filmmakers were about the original property. They must have skipped the big book and read an internet summary instead.

No, I think that the problem is that the book isn't something that translates well to film. It's romanticized, heroic talky-talk. It's not cinematic. It would be quite difficult for even the best people in Hollywood to make a great film (or films) of Atlas Shrugged.

Rand called her style Romantic Realism. The people who produced these films decided to go contemporary, thus placing more emphasis on the Realism half of the equation, and the films' harshest critics (at least the ones that I've read) have suggested that the style should have leaned even farther toward the Realism side -- they wanted deeper character development (much deeper than what was contained in the novel), they wanted realistic-sounding dialog (despite its not being in the novel), etc.

I think the opposite approach should have been taken. Every frame of the films should have had the look and feel of a clearly alternate reality. On a previous thread, Michael Marotta suggest the visual style of Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, as well as possibly steam punk/diesel punk. And I agree that the novel demands something like that when translated to film: more Romanticism than Realism in the mix -- both in visuals and in acting. Maybe even something like Sin City. The posed, talky-talk artifice needs to be ramped up rather than toned down.

Of course, if you would like to challenge anything specific I said about this turkey, go ahead. You've seen it. You apparently liked it more than I. Now is the time to speak on its behalf.

I don't think that any of the three films were great, nor were they bad. Compared to their contemporaries at Redbox or on Netflix streaming, I'd say that they're better than 50 or 60 percent of their competition.

J

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Short answer about movie critics, yes -- Keanu Reeves as Galt, Anne Hathaway as Dagny, Barry Sonnefeld directing, four stars easy.

Keanu as Galt: "Uh...Dude...Like, WHOAH! Uh...like, let's go on strike, bro! Totally!"

If they had succeeded in funding that 1996 deal, the result would have been infinitely worse than the Part 1 junk that was thrown together by horror hacks Kaslow and O'Toole...

And you still haven't seen any of the films, right?

The way Hollywood works today is strictly a question of top billing. Who is John Galt? Dagny? Hank Rearden? -- and everything else comes second. No stars attached, no deal, no matter how much money is on the table. It could have been a great movie, and the key to making it happen was casting libertarian Kurt Russell as Hank Rearden.

Kurt Russell? Hahahahaha! Jesus. Please, keep your weird bromance fantasies to yourself!

No understanding of how Hollywood works, no vision of Atlas as a blockbuster -- Aglialoro made stinky amateur mud pies.

They should have put you in charge of the projects, Pup. You and Phil Coates.

Hollywood Reporter and Variety were objectively right to pan it.

Nothing will convince me that they panned it. So there!

"a low-grade TV soap opera, with acting to match... Rand would have been embarrassed" - Variety

"Atlas Shrugged was never properly reconceived for a modern audience" - Hollywood Reporter

I think that Rand would have produced a much worse set of films. She wasn't a cinematographer. She wasn't very visual.

J

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As I made clear in my review of this movie on this thread, http://www.objectivistliving.com/forums/index.php?showtopic=14641&p=217206 Atlas Shrugged is an unintentionally hilarious film.

Your review doesn't sound like laughter. It sounds like bitching and disappointment. It comes across as too personal and important to you to be laughter.

The review came across to me as laughter, not as J describes.

I'd read the review before I saw the movie and, while watching, I thought that Francisco's descriptions were on target. I especially enjoyed:

Kristoffer Polaha as John Galt could be a Weight Watchers "before" model. What happened to the angular planes we associate with Rand's heroes? The most altruistic thing one can say about Polaha's performance is that he comes across a nice young man. "My name is Kris and I'll be your waiter tonight. Would you guys like to hear about our starters?" There is no sense of Galt's mental powers, charisma, or sexual energy.

Ellen

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I think that Rand would have produced a much worse set of films. She wasn't a cinematographer. She wasn't very visual.

J

She was quite visual, but not as a cinematographer--a novelist. She never had any ambition to produce a movie. A movie maybe a tv script. She simply didn't want anyone screwing up a word of her dialogue or anything else script approved by her. There's not a decent movie-maker movie money man who would ever give her that say so. It was her way or the highway and that's what happened. Peikoff must have needed the money or was a dolt or thought he knew nothing would come of it except the money it put in his pocket.

--Brant

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What a tragedy. Had to ghostwrite his dissertation, spoonfeed ideas to him, and Peter Keating ends up with all the marbles.

“I had the extraordinary good fortune to read Atlas Shrugged in manuscript as it was being written, and to ask the author all the questions I wished about her ideas,” Peikoff says. “My knowledge of philosophy was primitive at the time, but she was tremendously gifted at explaining her ideas. She was also patient and recommended many books for me to read. We talked philosophy late into the night on countless occasions. It was, for me, an invaluable education.” http://www.peikoff.com/biography/

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What a tragedy. Had to ghostwrite his dissertation, spoonfeed ideas to him, and Peter Keating ends up with all the marbles.

Roark and Reardon could have founded VA ...

Victims Anonymous ... a three (3) step process:

Step one - stop being a victim.

Step two - surrender to a higher power, your rational mind.

Step three - do not compromise as you work for what you value.

A...

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I think that Rand would have produced a much worse set of films. She wasn't a cinematographer. She wasn't very visual.

J

She was quite visual, but not as a cinematographer--a novelist. She never had any ambition to produce a movie. A movie maybe a tv script. She simply didn't want anyone screwing up a word of her dialogue or anything else script approved by her. There's not a decent movie-maker movie money man who would ever give her that say so. It was her way or the highway and that's what happened. Peikoff must have needed the money or was a dolt or thought he knew nothing would come of it except the money it put in his pocket.

--Brant

She wasn't very visual.

Oh, yikes. I think Rand was incredibly visual - as I commented the other day about Red Pawn - post #50 on the "The Fountainhead" thread.

Ellen

Sorry for not being clear. Yes, as a novelist Rand could be quite "visual" -- she could verbally handle visuals, and even be quite evocative. But when it came to actual visuals, she was lacking. She treated visual art as if it were literature. She didn't see its nuances, its compositional structures, its moods or even its errors. She had rules prior to knowing anything about visual media (based on what she subjectively preferred), and she doesn't appear to have ever been interested in seriously studying the media.

Her comments on photography are not only ignorant but dismissive: she treats the medium as merely allowing a small degree of artistic selectivity and expression. In other words, she mistakes her own very limited knowledge of the medium as being the medium's limitations. A person with those opinions and that level of disinterest would not make a good cinematographer.

If she had been alive during any attempt to film AS, I think that she would have prevented its visual success. I think that she would have stood in the way of any original thinking about how to match the visual style to the verbal.

J

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