Atlas Shrugged Filming Wraps Up


Ed Hudgins

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I wasn't terribly pleased with this interview with the director. An excerpt:

GM:  To return to the themes of the novel.  Do you think the characters are beyond good and evil, beyond morality in a Nietzschean sense?

PJ:  I really believe that.  I really believe that.

GM:  That they’re these Promethean, Titanic figures who are above such things?

PJ:  I really believe that.  Rand uses a lot of things like good and evil in her text but I don’t think she really believed those ideas.  It’s like what Oscar Wilde said … I don’t know the exact quote – he said that a book can either be poorly written or well written, but it can’t be evil.

GM:  But the novel has that Nietzschean overtone to it.

PJ:  Absolutely.

http://www.libertasfilmmagazine.com/exclusive-lfm-visits-the-set-of-atlas-shrugged-director-paul-johanssons-first-interview-about-the-film-part-i/

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Yes, you always cast a black guy for the part of the red shirt.

Redshirt is a slang term for a minor stock character of an adventure drama who dies violently soon after being introduced in order to dramatize the dangerous situation experienced by the main characters. Wikipedia

Ahem, Eddie Willers makes it to the end, doesn’t die violently, and maybe doesn’t die at all. Tut Tut Ted.

Eddie Willers was also not a "minor stock character". He was a very significant character in the novel.

I've looked over photos of the different cast members. Some of them definitely don't seem to me to have the right appearance for their characters. But casting a black actor as Eddie Willers is really going against his physical description in the novel. Eddie was described as having blonde hair and blue eyes. I also think that this is a bad idea because it seems to feed into a racial stereotype. Eddie is described as being Dagny's assistant, just as his father and grandfather worked for Dagny's father and grandfather. So this almost seems to fit the racial stereotype of black underlings working for their white superiors over several generations. I would not have made this choice. Then again, I'm not the director.

Martin

It's been a long time since I have read Atlas Shrugged. Were there any nonwhite characters in the book? I really cannot remember if there were. I was surprised and amused that the actor selected to play Eddie is black because I always pictured him as black even though Rand described him as having blonde hair and blue eyes. The person they selected to play James is too attractive. I always thought of James as looking almost 50, fat and balding.

I can't wait to see the movie though.

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Yes, you always cast a black guy for the part of the red shirt.

Redshirt is a slang term for a minor stock character of an adventure drama who dies violently soon after being introduced in order to dramatize the dangerous situation experienced by the main characters. Wikipedia

Ahem, Eddie Willers makes it to the end, doesn’t die violently, and maybe doesn’t die at all. Tut Tut Ted.

Eddie Willers was also not a "minor stock character". He was a very significant character in the novel.

I've looked over photos of the different cast members. Some of them definitely don't seem to me to have the right appearance for their characters. But casting a black actor as Eddie Willers is really going against his physical description in the novel. Eddie was described as having blonde hair and blue eyes. I also think that this is a bad idea because it seems to feed into a racial stereotype. Eddie is described as being Dagny's assistant, just as his father and grandfather worked for Dagny's father and grandfather. So this almost seems to fit the racial stereotype of black underlings working for their white superiors over several generations. I would not have made this choice. Then again, I'm not the director.

Martin

It's been a long time since I have read Atlas Shrugged. Were there any nonwhite characters in the book? I really cannot remember if there were. I was surprised and amused that the actor selected to play Eddie is black because I always pictured him as black even though Rand described him as having blonde hair and blue eyes. The person they selected to play James is too attractive. I always thought of James as looking almost 50, fat and balding.

I can't wait to see the movie though.

Interesting question. For many of the characters in Atlas Shrugged, the physical description given is not sufficient to determine the character's race. Unless information is given about skin color, hair color, eye color, or nationality, race cannot be determined. For example, Ragnar was Nordic and therefore, presumably, causacian, Francisco had blue eyes and his ancestors were from Spain, Rearden had blue eyes, and Galt had green eyes. One may reasonably extrapolate that these characters cannot be black. I would guess that Rand envisioned all of her characters as being white, for the simple reason that she was originally from Russia, and most likely all of her friends and acquaintances were white. Objectivism has never had much of a following among blacks. Nevertheless, if the character's physical description is not determinative of race, the director can take liberties in this area without directly contradicting the novel's physical description.

Just out of curiousity, what did you always picture Eddie as being black? I certainly didn't.

Martin

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I wasn't terribly pleased with this interview with the director.

The director doesn’t write the screenplay, so I’m not overly concerned about this. We’d need to hear him demonstrate his knowledge of philosophy more extensively to judge if he even knows what he’s talking about. This isn’t Oliver Stone talking (who’s reportedly sought to remake The Fountainhead, yikes!).

Were there any nonwhite characters in the book?

I don't believe so, but remember 1957 was the heyday of Amos and Andy, and still 3 years from To Kill a Mockingbird, so I don't think it reflects badly on the book. There's no Asians either.

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I made no such claim. There is a huge difference in meaning between saying and claiming.

Gee, if only there were some way to figure out what this post is replying to, I'm sure it would gain immensely in intelligibility.

JR

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Yes, you always cast a black guy for the part of the red shirt.

Redshirt is a slang term for a minor stock character of an adventure drama who dies violently soon after being introduced in order to dramatize the dangerous situation experienced by the main characters. Wikipedia

Ahem, Eddie Willers makes it to the end, doesn’t die violently, and maybe doesn’t die at all. Tut Tut Ted.

Eddie Willers was also not a "minor stock character". He was a very significant character in the novel.

I've looked over photos of the different cast members. Some of them definitely don't seem to me to have the right appearance for their characters. But casting a black actor as Eddie Willers is really going against his physical description in the novel. Eddie was described as having blonde hair and blue eyes. I also think that this is a bad idea because it seems to feed into a racial stereotype. Eddie is described as being Dagny's assistant, just as his father and grandfather worked for Dagny's father and grandfather. So this almost seems to fit the racial stereotype of black underlings working for their white superiors over several generations. I would not have made this choice. Then again, I'm not the director.

Martin

It's been a long time since I have read Atlas Shrugged. Were there any nonwhite characters in the book? I really cannot remember if there were. I was surprised and amused that the actor selected to play Eddie is black because I always pictured him as black even though Rand described him as having blonde hair and blue eyes. The person they selected to play James is too attractive. I always thought of James as looking almost 50, fat and balding.

I can't wait to see the movie though.

Interesting question. For many of the characters in Atlas Shrugged, the physical description given is not sufficient to determine the character's race. Unless information is given about skin color, hair color, eye color, or nationality, race cannot be determined. For example, Ragnar was Nordic and therefore, presumably, causacian, Francisco had blue eyes and his ancestors were from Spain, Rearden had blue eyes, and Galt had green eyes. One may reasonably extrapolate that these characters cannot be black. I would guess that Rand envisioned all of her characters as being white, for the simple reason that she was originally from Russia, and most likely all of her friends and acquaintances were white. Objectivism has never had much of a following among blacks. Nevertheless, if the character's physical description is not determinative of race, the director can take liberties in this area without directly contradicting the novel's physical description.

Just out of curiousity, what did you always picture Eddie as being black? I certainly didn't.

Martin

I probably thought of him as black because "Eddie is described as being Dagny's assistant, just as his father and grandfather worked for Dagny's father and grandfather. So this almost seems to fit the stereotype of blacks working for white superiors over several generations." -[edited] However, I never considered it as a racial issue. I pictured the time period of the novel to be in the late 30s or early 40s (technologically and culturally). The one thing I was sure of was that the relationship between the Taggart and the Willers family was special and built on respect, ability and fair trade. If Willers had actually been black, I could have easily pictured a great Taggart relative fighting for the rights of a Willers relative to be free of slavery (underground railroad). That is the feeling I got. To be absolutely clear, because it is so easy to be misunderstood, I don't consider non-essential stereotyping to be racist. Racism is when you consider yourself morally superior or deserving of special rights or privileges based on race alone. The fact that Italians (in general) like pasta and pizza is not racist nor is it a moral issue.

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An interview with director Paul Johansson and with Grant Bowler, who plays Henry Rearden, was just posted by reason.tv on YouTube.

The production has a Facebook page and has just released a quite informative media info sheet, with full cast and crew lists and biographies of the principals. Among other matters, it confirms David Kelley's report that John Aglialoro had to start production by June 15 in order to retain the rights.

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An interview with director Paul Johansson and with Grant Bowler, who plays Henry Rearden, was just posted by reason.tv on YouTube.

The production has a Facebook page and has just released a quite informative media info sheet, with full cast and crew lists and biographies of the principals. Among other matters, it confirms David Kelley's report that John Aglialoro had to start production by June 15 in order to retain the rights.

I don't think I'm going to go see an Atlas Shrugged on the cheap movie. Obviously no serious financing was available. A good movie would emphasize the visual elements not the talking heads, which you get much better in the novel itself. The most powerful, dynamic part of the novel is the first run of The John Galt Line. If they don't get that right they got nothing. The novel itself goes downhill from there. If it had been a purely American novel that would have ended the novel. The stuff that did follow was so depressive Russian. Maybe Rand sublimated a tendency toward depression writing the novel and after the post-publication high it all came rushing back because she had really been living in such a world all the time. The American hero doesn't go on strike, doesn't give up--he keeps on fighting. Do we understand that the bad guys in Atlas basically achieved all their real goals?

--Brant

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I made no such claim. There is a huge difference in meaning between saying and claiming.

Okay. I meant no offense. I only meant to say that the Rearden logo wasn't in the clip as I had been led to believe by your comment. No biggie.

J

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An interview with director Paul Johansson and with Grant Bowler, who plays Henry Rearden, was just posted by reason.tv on YouTube.

The production has a Facebook page and has just released a quite informative media info sheet, with full cast and crew lists and biographies of the principals. Among other matters, it confirms David Kelley's report that John Aglialoro had to start production by June 15 in order to retain the rights.

The more I see of these interviews and behind-the-scenes glimpses, the more confident I am in the director and his cast and crew.

J

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The director doesn’t write the screenplay, so I’m not overly concerned about this.

Correction, I hadn't seen this yet, and he implies that he did get involved with the screenplay.

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I made no such claim. There is a huge difference in meaning between saying and claiming.

Okay. I meant no offense. I only meant to say that the Rearden logo wasn't in the clip as I had been led to believe by your comment. No biggie.

J

Only J-Rig seems to have really taken offence, God bless him.

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Brant:

The most powerful, dynamic part of the novel is the first run of The John Galt Line. If they don't get that right they got nothing. The novel itself goes downhill from there.

Brant, do I detect an influence of a second drink? From what perspective do you hold that view?

My favorite section is Dagny's introduction to the valley in which all these people communicate variations on the strike theme, and that they are alive and happy. My view of heaven is like that.

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Brant:

The most powerful, dynamic part of the novel is the first run of The John Galt Line. If they don't get that right they got nothing. The novel itself goes downhill from there.

Brant, do I detect an influence of a second drink? From what perspective do you hold that view?

My favorite section is Dagny's introduction to the valley in which all these people communicate variations on the strike theme, and that they are alive and happy. My view of heaven is like that.

After Dagny meets Galt in the Valley I had interest in the first several readings. I still like that first scene with Galt, but I cannot stand the idea of living amongst such people any more than I could stand living in a Mormon community. As for heaven, the great irony of heaven is it would be hell in so far as humans have been publicly imagining it.

--Brant

American perspective

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For the life of me I don't know why anyone who could make an inexpensive movie about Atlas Shrugged didn't make a movie about Anthem first to show what he could do. He had years and years to do that.

--Brant

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I still like that first scene with Galt, but I cannot stand the idea of living amongst such people any more than I could stand living in a Mormon community.

I guess she didn't like her house, or later on, her nice suite. Maybe she was into the hippie thing more than we know about--she was a little dirty in her article about Woodstock. Maybe there was a piece of her that wanted to be there. But, then again, she was busy in her own counterculture way. And getting laid some, too.

rde

It Couldn't Have Been All That Bad

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The person they selected to play James is too attractive. I always thought of James as looking almost 50, fat and balding.

Imo they can't portray in the film all the "bad guys" as "ugly" as they are described in the novel because this would add a ridiculous, almost caricaturistic visual touch. Even when reading AS, the pysical description of the the bad guys' ugliness made me laugh, for it was so much in black and white:

On one side, there are the dazzling appearances of the physically attractive group: Dagny, Rearden, D'Anconia, Galt, Ragnar and his wife Kay. This group is also (from Rand's perspective) the 'ideologically attractive' group.

The ideological adversaries are almost all depicted as physically unattractive, like e. g. Wesley Mouch and Bertram Scudder. And the ridiculous names they have! One can connote Mouch with "mooch(er)". Also with "pouchy", as in pouchy eyes.

With Bertram Scudder's last name, one can associate 'shudder'; the name also evoked in the me image of some scurrying, ferret-like creature.

The most powerful, dynamic part of the novel is the first run of The John Galt Line. If they don't get that right they got nothing. The novel itself goes downhill from there.

Brant, do I detect an influence of a second drink? From what perspective do you hold that view?

I too am of the opinion that the first run of The John Galt Line is the most powerful, dynamic part of the novel.

Very impressive also how Rand manages to convey in that scene the strong erotic tension between Dagny and Rearden, using elements like the pounding rhythm and drive of the engine to enhance that tension.

I found reading reading AS mostly tedious ("still so many pages to go") but that compelling scene was mastefully crafted imo.

My favorite section is Dagny's introduction to the valley in which all these people communicate variations on the strike theme, and that they are alive and happy. My view of heaven is like that.

My impression was totally different. I was suspicious of this kind of brave new world society where they all sing from the same hymn sheet. Galt gave me the creeps as well.

BG: After Dagny meets Galt in the Valley I had interest in the first several readings. I still like that first scene with Galt, but I cannot stand the idea of living amongst such people any more than I could stand living in a Mormon community.

Nor can I. It would contradict my concept of individualism.

I can't image such such societies (whether it is Galt's Gulch or the Mormons) having a place for individuals not sharing the code of values advocated there. This makes them ideologically closed societies.

As for heaven, the great irony of heaven is it would be hell in so far as humans have been publicly imagining it.

Well said. :)

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