Atlas Shrugged Part III: Clint Eastwood, and George Lucas, not quite John Galt

It was good to hear that after a recent script meeting where Duncan Scott read 80% of his completed first draft to John Aglialoro and other key production personnel for Atlas Shrugged Part III set for release in July of 2014 that the approach during pre-production is that it’s “our movie.”  Aglialoro understands that he is not making a movie for the masses, but for the very few human beings left on planet Earth who actually enjoy thinking.  The production team released this very short clip from that meeting with discussion between two of the producers, John Aglialoro and Harmon Kaslow speaking about their target audience.

The political left and a vast percentage of everyone else will be disturbed by what they see in Atlas Shrugged Part III.  To do the story justice, Aglialoro cannot worry about making those types of people angry.  Over the years film makers like Clint Eastwood, George Lucas, and now Christropher Nolan have obviously enjoyed the work of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged novel, but have been careful to admit how much in public.  The themes of Atlas Shrugged are certainly in their films, but being mass market film makers they have been financially wise to insert in their movies carefully placed scenes which appeal to the mass audiences.  Specifically in films like Sudden Impact, Eastwood would occasionally have a scene like the one with the little bull-dog named “meat head” who would turn to the camera and “fart” so that the movie audience would have something in the film they understood.  It lets the mass audience know that all the serious stuff happening on the screen isn’t “too” serious, so film critics, beer slugging sports fans, panicky wives on their second marriages, and other non-thinking addicts would know that Eastwood didn’t take himself too serious.  In non-thinking Hollywood, it is “bad” to take oneself too serious, so they will be appalled by John Galt in Atlas III.

George Lucas of course took a lot of critical heat for his early films like THX-1138 which is very close to the concept released in Ayn Rand’s novel Anthem, and the plot to Star Wars: A New Hope is very, very close to the plotline of Atlas Shrugged Part III.  In Atlas Shrugged there is a government weapon called Project X which does essentially the same thing that Lucas created the Death Star to do, and for the same reasons.  But Lucas to keep the masses from looking too closely at what he was up to inserted characters like the robots C3PO and Artoo Detoo for the mass audiences to relate to with comedic relief.  However, later after Lucas had achieved mass success and his liberal friends had his ear for countless hours, Lucas began to change from the kind of director who could produce a film like The Empire Strikes Back.  In that particular film when Luke Skywalker detects that his friends Han Solo and Princess Leia are being tortured in a faraway place, Luke selflessly stops his training with the Jedi Master and preps his ship for takeoff to rescue them.  The wise old Yoda says to Luke not to leave, that he must stay and complete his training.  Luke says what every hero is supposed to say, that his “sacrifice” is needed to save his friends.  Yoda tells Luke that if he honors what they fight for, then “YES” let them die.  Yoda knew that Darth Vader and the non-thinking ways of the Dark Side of the force were attempting to use honor to flush Luke Skywalker out of his hiding so that they could get a hold of his mind and destroy it, making him an agent of evil.  Luke wasn’t yet strong enough to resist such a confrontation, so Yoda advised Luke against rushing off to save his friends who were being dangled like bait to trap Luke.  Luke does what the audience expects him to do, he doesn’t listen to Yoda and rushes off to honorably sacrifice himself in order to save his friends.  But to the audiences shock, Luke’s friend Han Solo ends up frozen in carbonite captured by the bounty hunter and Luke gets his butt kicked, losing a hand, finding out prematurely that Darth Vader is really his father, and discovering that it is he who must be rescued, not the other way around.  These themes are hard-core Ayn Rand in their nature and critics were beginning to notice.  Lucas in the next Star Wars film took cues from Clint Eastwood and inserted not just one, but two belches from on-screen characters after they ate in Return of the Jedi.  He gave the non-thinking movie audience what they wanted, something on-screen that they could relate with, even though they detected something of great importance happening in the Star Wars stories, they simply came away from the films enjoying the cool special effects and action.  Lucas would use the same tactic in Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom where the Thuggie cult captures Indiana Jones and forces him to drink blood to become an agent of human sacrifice.  Jones has to be rescued by Short Round “through pain” so that he can become a thinking individual again who can fight bad guys and escape from the Temple of Doom.  To lighten things up in that film Lucas and Spielberg inserted a scene where someone belched, which made the whole theater erupt into laughter—except me.  Over time, especially after his divorce, Lucas appears to have become much more altruistic in the way Neil Peart did from the rock band Rush who openly supported Ayn Rand for many years, but after several personal life failures, found they could no longer relate, and pulled away from the philosophy of Objectivism.  But to Lucas’ credit, the theme of his Prequel films where the Jedi Knights fall from power is because of their tendency to sacrifice themselves for the “common good.”  This is how the “Dark Side” was able to conceal itself from them and take over the entire galaxy.  This is ultimately why the Prequels are so disliked, because they lack the kind of characters from the originals like Han Solo and Boba Fett—both extreme capitalists who are the favorite characters from the series.  People understand these things conceptually, but not literally.  So the movies make a lot of money, but fans go back to their non-thinking lives only sensing that something important happened, but not understanding why or what.

Atlas Shrugged Part III does not have the luxury of dancing around the issues.  Since it is based on Ayn Rand’s original work it has to be loyal to the text and that means not compromising the integrity of the work to the whims of a mass public that is currently consumed with non-thinking.  The work cannot be one where John Galt belches or farts in order to give the masses a part of the movie they can relate to.  It is a work of philosophy, and has to be dealt with seriously, which means the pill must be swallowed without water as a chaser to help.  This means that most people will not like Atlas Shrugged Part III, and John Aglialoro is fine with that.  He’s not making the movie for everyone else.  He is making the movie for us—people who like to “think.”

One of the criticisms of the Atlas films is that they are not very popular with the masses.  The first two were very heavy in concepts that the masses have been trained in their educations to despise—ideas like capitalism is morally good, and altruism is bad.  Most non-thinking people think in the reverse.   So Atlas Shrugged represents to them a threat to everything they stand for.  I think the film makers actually went soft on a bit of Part I and Part II so not to blow their audiences out of the water completely, in hope that they would see some form of box office success.  But the numbers just aren’t there.  It will take a long time for the masses to find joy in Atlas Shrugged as they will have to do as Yoda suggested in The Empire Strikes Back, they must “unlearn what they’ve learned.”  Audiences in mass will not like Atlas Shrugged Part III.  The film makers have to make the film for themselves as if nobody is ever going to see it.  That is the only way to pull off this third part of the classic novel—and it appears that Aglialoro and company are prepared to do just that.

I look very forward to Atlas Shrugged Part III hitting theaters in the summer of 2014.  I look forward to the kind of film that does not compromise the way other films that have attempted to say important things disguised behind great visual spectacles have done.  The result in those other films is that the non-thinking public only achieves greatness during their time in the darkened theater.  Once the lights come on and they exit, they are quickly back to their non-thinking ways checking sports scores on their iPhones and behaving like ants in a dirt colony ran by some stupid queen.  Atlas Shrugged Part III has to take on philosophy directly, not indirectly, and it has to be honest, because it is the original work which has inspired so many who understood, but lacked the fortitude to make such bold public declarations at the expense of their careers.  Aglialoro, Kaslow, and screenwriter Duncan Scott are not compromising on this film, and for me, that is all the reason and more to rush to see it at the first chance I get…………………and I will.

Rich Hoffman

166701_584023358276159_1119605693_n“If they attack first………..blast em’!”