Cornell Student Review of Atlas Shrugged Part II
Posted by Laurel Conrad on October 8, 2012
Who is John Gault?
Part II of Ayn Rand’s masterpiece, Atlas Shrugged, will be released in theaters on Friday, October 12th. If you missed Part I- don’t worry, so did a lot of people. While Part I was by no means a blockbuster, it gave the producers a foundation for Part II. The newest installment in the trilogy features a bigger budget and an entirely new cast. Whether you believe that Atlas Shrugged II parallels America’s projected path or is a product of capitalist propaganda, I recommend going to see it in theaters. It features an engaging, fast-paced story line that will expose you to the philosophy of a masterpiece. The strongest performance of the new cast is Jason Beghe as Henry “Hank” Rearden. Beghe captures his character’s determined, yet likable, essence. The lead role of Dagney Taggart is played by Samantha Mathis. She is an experienced actress, but at age 42, Mathis does not realistically pass for her thirty-year-old character. To my disappointment, Esai Morales’ portrayal of my favorite character, Francisco d’Anconia, often comes across as sleazy and unsettling.
Fortunately, the success of Atlas Shrugged is not measured by its cast’s somewhat lackluster performance. This movie is about something bigger than that: it is about an idea. This idea is Rand’s philosophy of Objectivism, which hails rational self-interest, individual rights, and capitalism as supreme goods for society. The movie brings to life Rand’s themes that productivity is good, money is not evil, but rather a means of exchange, and that government’s constant interference for the “public good” rarely accomplishes any good at all. Throughout the movie, many of the scenes parallel with events that occur in our world today (protests, incredibly expensive gas, government regulation, and economic recession). This is not by sheer coincidence; the movie sends a clear message about its relevance to today by featuring Sean Hannity as a news anchor in the film and having protesters wave “Don’t Tread on Me” flags.
Co-founder of Cornell’s Network of Enlightened Women, Caroline Emberton, found Atlas Shrugged to be “incredibly thought provoking, and revealing about the harmful realities of extreme government regulation. I appreciated how the movie also wonderfully captured the courage and resolve of the characters who desired to improve the lives of those struggling around them. The movie will definitely make people think about what it means to be a free society.”
Cheesy film moments aside, if you are someone who rejects the notion that “If you’ve got a business- you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen”- then this is definitely the movie for you.