I finally got around to watching Atlas Shrugged Part 3.
For Part 1, I had to travel a bit to get to a theater screening it. It was not the best, but that was overshadowed somewhat by the excitement of that book being brought to film. Dagny didn’t look (or seem enough) like Dagny. Francisco absolutely wasn’t Francisco. It was fascinating to see the science fictional aspect of the book rendered more so by extrapolating it into the future, rather than depicting a fictional past as it didn’t happen.
For Part 2, I was able to see it locally. That made it all the more disappointing that the travel required for the final part turned out to be too much to bother. Dagny still wasn’t Dagny. Francisco was perfect. I was intrigued by D.B. Sweeney as Galt, except we really didn’t get more than a voice. The effects were substantial. Definitely science fiction. I thought at the time that it was a step up.
Part 3 I never saw in the theater, as mentioned. I was expecting it to be horrible, based on the reception it got. Instead, it was very well done, I’d say my favorite of the three parts. That could be because of when in the books it took place. It doesn’t hurt that, while still not looking like Dagny, this was the best Dagny of the three. Or perhaps I just thought she was that attractive. Galt was not my vision of Galt, but I am not sure he could ever be depicted as described in the book. He grew on me and will probably be my mental image from now on. Even if he didn’t match my visual, he did well in tone and bearing. Francisco appeared to old compared to the other two. Ellis Wyatt (always loved that name) was arguably closer than the first one, while still not being right. And yet, the first one has now become my mental image. He clearly did something right.
I did have minor quibbles. Why bother with license plates on cars in Galt’s Gulch? I dismissed that as being so they could take them outside without jumping through hoops. Why was there a road in Galt’s Gulch that had clearly been paved and lined by government? The special government project was not the torture device! That was just a torture device. The special project was up there with nukes in terms of secretly developed super weapons, but aimed more internally. I was hoping to see the culmination of that, however abbreviated, as the cause of the Taggart Bridge collapse. Finally, I missed the epilogue.
I thought “this is John Galt speaking” was handled extremely well. The philosophy was more prevalent in this one, which may have been a reason I liked it better than the others. Even in the book it was never clear why we had “head of state” and not President. This film made it clear that the very structure and name of the nation had changed. The entire last third of the book was condensed pretty well for this movie, considering the challenge that represents.
Atlas Shrugged the book is special to me. It can be a slog to read. I’ve only ever read all of John Galt’s broadcast once in multiple rereads. I was living in my first apartment, late 1981, when I read 1984. That book gave me nightmares and threw me into a depressed state of mind. Reading Atlas Shrugged was what snapped me out of it. The whole episode had the side effect of making me question where I was headed and deciding to attend college, three years out of high school. That whole thing could have gone better, but it was a net positive.
At the same time, I can think of at least one book, Terry Goodkind’s Faith of the Fallen, that is Atlas Shrugged philosophically, done better and shorter, in a fantasy setting to boot. Faith of the Fallen is part of a series that starts with Wizard’s First Rule. In that one, it turns out that the sixth rule is: “The only sovereign you can allow to rule you is reason.” It doesn’t get much more concise than that.