Adam Reed sent me this link to the summary of the supposedly forthcoming movie of Atlas Shrugged. (By way of background, I blogged the initial announcement about the movie way back when. In response to worries about the assignment of screenwriter Jim Hart, who seemingly butchered the story of Contact in writing the script, Ian Hamet wrote up some lengthy comments on why Hart might not have been responsible.) In any case, here’s the current summary:
Written by: Jim V. Hart
Based on the novel ATLAS SHRUGGED by Ayn Rand
GENRE: Action Drama
LOG LINE: Dagny Taggart, one of the great heroines of modern literature, struggles to fulfill her great-grandfather’s legacy as she steers her family’s railroad conglomerate through the triple threat of government corruption, international terrorism and a mysterious force that is silencing the great thinkers of the day.
SYNOPSIS: Ayn Rand’s groundbreaking novel foresees an American future eerily similar to the future that America faces today. The politics of fear embodied by stringent government regulation and irresponsible foreign policy have driven American society to the brink of collapse. Against this backdrop, Dagny Taggart wrestles her corrupt and dissolute brother for control of their great-grandfather’s railroad conglomerate. Determined to live up to her ancestor’s name, Dagny steers the railroad through a minefield of government sabotage, domestic disintegration, and international terrorism. All the while the destruction of the American way is hastened by a mysterious force that is silencing the great thinkers of the day. Their disappearance inspires a universal sense of fatalistic dread that is summed up by the new popular catchphrase: “Who is John Galt?”
TIME PERIOD/LOCATION: Near future – United States
The reference to “international terrorism” is disturbing, as that could signal a substantial change in the plot. However, I’m far more worried about the multiple references to Dagny as “struggl[ing] to fulfill her great-grandfather’s legacy” and “determined to live up to her ancestor’s name.” Remember Dagny’s actual attitude toward Nat Taggart:
Dagny regretted at times that Nat Taggart was her ancestor. What she felt for him did not belong in the category of unchosen family affections. She did not want her feeling to be the thing one was supposed to owe an uncle or a grandfather. She was incapable of love for any object not of her own choice and she resented anyone’s demand for it. But had it been possible to choose an ancestor, she would have chosen Nat Taggart, in voluntary homage and with all of her gratitude. (Atlas Shrugged: Part I, Chapter 3)
In essence, Dagny has the same attitude toward Nat Taggart as Ayn Rand did toward West Point:
West Point has given America a long line of heroes, known and unknown. You, this year’s graduates, have a glorious tradition to carry on–which I admire profoundly, not because it is a tradition, but because it is glorious.
Dagny is motivated by her own life and values in Atlas Shrugged, not by her family tradition. If Nat Taggart were not her ancestor, she would live her life in exactly the same way. His role in the story is to serve as a personal symbol of America’s past greatness — and present loss. To present Dagny as substantially motivated by such ties of blood in the movie would not just undercut her rationality and selfishness: it would undermine the whole theme of the role of reason in man’s life. That would be a disaster.