Atlas Shrugged the movie, has burst onto the scene to become a stunning box office success amid cheers and jeers, from both the ranks of the left and right. One shouldn’t be surprised by the polarizing effect this movie is having on conversations across America.
Based on an epic bestselling novel, Ayn Rand’s masterpiece of heroic “retro- fiction” may seem eerily familiar to Americans in these trying times of economic uncertainty.
She intended her books to be the clarion call of reason to the minds of rugged individualists, who in her view were beset by government incompetence and a society falling into moral ruin from the many living off the genius of the few. She coined the term Objectivism as her philosophy on a purposeful life in society.
Ayn Rand understood the peril of relentless societal decay, growing up after the Bolshevik Revolution in Russia. She immigrated to America in 1926 and coincidentally, just two years ahead of the last most devastating economic event in our own history.
Though her family was above middle class, affording her luxuries like attending University, her future was uncertain as a Russian Jew and an intellectual. She came to America to visit relatives in New York, but after experiencing the audacity of personal freedom first hand, she determined she could never leave.
Both of her most famous novels: The Fountainhead (published 1943) and Atlas Shrugged (1951) guide the reader through a disturbingly downward spiral of societal dysfunction, ultimately to the brink of chaos. She then offers a glimmer of hope through the guiding light of a few bigger than life characters, whose principles remain unswerving no matter what consequences befall them. Ultimately their heroic sacrifices magnetize a group of loyalists that grows to overshadow the forces of evil, providing a bright ray of hope of uprighting civilization once more.
This recent movie adaptation of Atlas Shrugged is being hailed by many as a breath of fresh air for those who struggle to understand how America has come to this difficult place in history. Others see it as yet another narrowly simplistic view of the world. In any case, people are adamantly talking about the movie. And it does offer inspiring moments that anyone can embrace, no matter their political persuasion, left or right leanings.
In troubling times, anything that uplifts the human spirit can be refreshing.