Understanding “Who Is John Galt”: ‘Atlas Shrugged Part III’ hits theaters September 12th

I first met Harmon Kaslow, one of the producers of the Atlas Shrugged films, in 2012 at the Duke Energy Center in Cincinnati, Ohio while we were both promoting the release of the second film, CLICK TO REVIEW.  At the time he was under tremendous pressure—he had just completed the second film with John Aglialoro and was working hard to promote it against a tidal wave of dissent.  Harmon is a Hollywood producer and his work on the Atlas films went against the general message of the entire entertainment industry—so it was a courageous move on his part to bring an independent film version of the novel Atlas Shrugged to the big screen when conventional career climbing wisdom said not to. The book came out in 1957 and was in development hell for over 40 years due to a number of influences.  Ayn Rand’s biggest mistake to support her Objectivist philosophy which was the message behind the popular novel was in not allowing Albert S. Ruddy to make a film adaptions of Atlas Shrugged his way after the success of the Godfather films in 1972.  Ruddy wanted to produce a version of the Atlas  films with Clint Eastwood and Robert Redford playing the lead roles—but Rand wanted to maintain complete creative control the way she had on the movie version of her other novel, The Fountainhead many years earlier.   The deal unfortunately fell through.  Hollywood would have been a much different place if Rand and Ruddy had made Atlas Shrugged in the 1970s.  Instead, it took another 40 years to get a movie version made after many attempts and it was Harmon Kaslow working with John Aglialoro who was able to pull off what nobody previously could.  As recently as 1999 Aglialoro and Ruddy negotiated a deal with Turner Network Television for a four-hour miniseries, but that deal also fell through during an AOL merger with Time Warner.  There were other attempts, but all failed until Kaslow and Aglialoro using the tools of the modern age to bypass the studio system were able actually get the job done.  The third and final film is finally ready to be released to the public on September 12th 2014.

I am grateful for the films.  For as long as I’ve been alive church leaders have sat me down and tried to tell me to assimilate more with the human world—to make more friends.  School guidance councilors have done the same—spent many hours talking to me trying to convince me to drop my resistance to other people and make more friends.  To this very day I can attend a crowded football game with 60,000 screaming fans—I can sit in a luxury box with 25 to 30 friends and power brokers—but I am always alone in the midst of the swarm.   The advice given to me for all the years prior—which I have never listened to—was that I needed to compromise my values to maintain friendships with people who did not hold the same—because making friends and assimilating with the population at large was more important than personal integrity.  But it’s not.  That is some of the worst advice that anybody can receive and it is the primary reason that Atlas Shrugged had difficulty being made into a movie.  How do you make a movie that is critical of how the masses of the population behave—intellectually?

To measure the typical Hollywood industry reaction to Ayn Rand and how threatened they are by her message the Futurama episode called, “I Second that Emotion” contains a library of books flushed down the drain into the sewers to be read by deformed mutants.  Among those books one of the main characters sees Atlas Shrugged and dismisses the book saying “There is nothing but crumpled porn and Ayn Rand.”  The popular video game Bioshock attacked the Objectivist premise of Atlas Shrugged for many of the same reasons showing how such a society could become dangerously suppressive.  Always behind their revulsion of Atlas Shrugged is the fear that the message of Ayn Rand might seep into society and expose them for being second-handers who live exclusively off the efforts of others.  So they attack Atlas Shrugged to protect their scheme against not only society at large—but themselves.  The rock band Rush has had a fascination with Ayn Rand for years and was the back bone of their 2112 album when lyrist Neal Peart wrote the breakthrough song—“Anthem” dedicated to Ayn Rand which brought them unprecedented ridicule from British journalists.  George Lucas essentially being in the know over the intentions of Albert S. Ruddy to make an Atlas Shrugged film molded his character of Han Solo in Star Wars as an answer to the individualism versus collectivism argument so prevalent in the 1970s.  Back then Lucas wrote in his early screenplay draft, “May the force of others, be with you.”  Han Solo was supposed to learn by the end of the film to think of others before he thought of himself.  However by the time Harrison Ford applied his magic to the character, Han Solo became one of the most popular characters in the series and he stayed very Randian in subsequent movies.  Case in point, Han Solo is about to be frozen and shipped off by the bounty hunter Boba Fett when Princess Leia says, “I love you.”  Han Solo using a very profound pronoun replies simply, “I know.”  Solo doesn’t care to reassure Leia that he too loves her, only that he knew all along.  The premise of his declaration is that his knowledge is more important than her acknowledgment.  They later get married have a daughter named Jaina who is the star of the new upcoming films.  By the time Star Wars hit popular culture Lucas changed a bit in his perspective shortening the popular line to just, “May the force be with you.”  These philosophic arguments are quite loud and many don’t even realize they are happening—but the battles rage on to this day and the stakes are quite high.

I have known this about people all of my life—well before I ever read Atlas Shrugged.  The reason I’ve always been alone—even in crowds is due to my avoidance of letting second-handers too close to me.  Most people live their lives as second-handers so Atlas Shrugged for them is dangerous—and insulting.  They will not enjoy the movie Atlas Shrugged and this is why the movie was in development hell for such a long period of time.  Movie producers and studio distributers by the nature of their jobs are second-handers themselves—the film business demands it of them—so they have problems with Atlas Shrugged.  Politicians are also second-handers, most of them hate the book and the movie produced by Aglialoro and Kaslow.  Movie critics are some of the biggest second-handers in existence—they are often film school drop-outs who couldn’t make their own movies so to be close to the industry, they write film reviews for newspapers and television shows.  Atlas Shrugged challenges them in a way that frightens their values—and second-hander nature.  When the third film hits theaters on September 12th 2014, they will pan the film not because the movie is bad—but because the story attacks their tendency to be second-handers and it makes them feel guilty.

The reason I have always been alone in crowds is that I do not allow myself to be looted from them socially, and literally.  Government does steal my money as a second-hander entity through taxes—but as an individual I have a policy against second-handers and do not allow it.  The new movie Atlas Shrugged III: Who is John Galt is a film made for people like me.  There is a scene in the upcoming film where John Galt is offered the top job of Wesley Mouch which holds unlimited government power.  John Galt laughs at the offer as his girlfriend Dagney Taggart is listening and instructs all those present that no such job should exist.  Dagney is allowed to listen because the president Mr. Thompson thinks that she will learn a lesson when he breaks John Galt through temptation.  Most people watching the movie and criticizing it after will not understand why John Galt laughs at the offer.  Most people would take such a deal in less than a second.  I do understand with great clarity.  I have lived my whole life laughing at the same type of offers without always understanding clearly.  I didn’t read any of Ayn Rand’s books until her books began to explode in popularity after the election of President Obama—in 2008.  My enjoyment of those books was not because they changed my life.  It was because reading those books and getting to know a bit about the people who made the recent movies—it was refreshing to see that there were others out there who thought the same way as I did—they resisted the waves of second-handers trying to impose a scheme against the productive hoping to remain concealed.   Now three films later over the last five years, Kaslow and Aglialoro have done what seemed impossible—they made Atlas Shrugged into movies with the last coming out just ahead of the November elections.

So the answer to “Who Is John Galt” will be answered quite well in the new film.  John Galt is a person who refuses to be consumed by second-handers, and when it is asked who talks and thinks like him by critics after they have seen the film and seek to hide their fear of the philosophy behind a bad review—I do.  I have in many ways lived John Galt’s life with a remarkable parallel that made me think when I first read Atlas Shrugged that I was reading something written just for me.  I have made similar decisions as John Galt for similar reasons at nearly the same time as that fictional character and in just the same kind of theatrical conditions.

My employers have always utilized my talents as an inventor of new ideas.  I went so far to even begin processing some of those ideas as patents in my early 20s.  When I learned that the industry was filled with second-handers and that virtually every connection to my endeavors was teeming with similar types, I withdrew.  My wife and I live in our home like our own personal Galt’s Gulch.  I took on several medial jobs—much the way that John Galt does in the new film for much the same reason but withdrew my talents from the second-handers so not to make them better at my expense.  There have been a few times along the way such as the time of the present where I am paid on the front end to solve complicated problems.  It takes more than money to conceive me of the worth—and if those values align, I agree to help, but generally, my wife and I live in a gulch of our own making—which is remarkably similar to the lifestyle shown in the new movie.

Due to a busy schedule I will not be able to attend the premier by invite which is occurring in Las Vegas just prior to the September 12th release date.  But I am excessively happy to see that the film was made and is the best of the three films.  For those who have seen the previous two either in theaters or on DVD later, then that should paint a picture of how good this new film should be for them.  When it comes to the filmmakers and others I have gotten to know a bit from the literal Gulch that we all reside in, I don’t feel those same emotions where a crowd can be present, but that I am standing by myself—around them.  The best part of the new movie is that it was made for people who are already like John Galt.  It’s not a movie for everyone.  Many will be curious enough to watch the film even if they don’t understand it.  But for those who already know who John Galt is by looking in the mirror—they will have a rare treat that deserves thanks toward the producers for making such a wonderful film intended for those who are standing alone in the world on an island of creativity surrounded by the desperate needs of second-handers.  It is rare that anything is ever made for people like that—because they always do the making.  But thanks to John Aglialoro and Harmon Kaslow, Atlas Shrugged Part III: Who Is John Galt was made for them—and that is a real treat.

To find out where the movie is playing near you, click the link below, and learn where you can see the film on September 12th.


Rich Hoffman