Journal Article

Hollywood Shrugged: Ayn Rand's Impossible Epic

Larry A. Gray

in Adaptation

Volume 4, issue 1, pages 55-65
Published in print March 2011 | ISSN: 1755-0637
Published online October 2010 | e-ISSN: 1755-0645 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/adaptation/apq013
Hollywood Shrugged: Ayn Rand's Impossible Epic

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Atlas Shrugged (1957), a novel written by a Hollywood screenwriter, has been steadily popular for decades but has never been produced as a film. This unique example of an unfilmable book raises provocative cultural questions: can a book or film be both popular and serious about important socio-economic ideas? Is Ayn Rand's novel unfilmable because it preaches to rather than interacts with its audience? This article claims that the book's hyper-seriousness dooms it as, at best, a camp film and that its elitist ideology excludes most of the general audience who might support any cinematic version. Finally, the article argues that Rand chose to adapt herself and her ideas through various appearances on television, rather than allow the production of a movie that might diminish her perceived stature as a philosopher. Her literary executors have followed suit, leaving the novel both attractive as a film property and ultimately unfilmable.

Keywords: Ayn Rand; Atlas Shrugged; camp; Tom Jones; Leonard Peikoff; Barbara Branden

Journal Article.  5472 words. 

Subjects: Film ; Television ; Literature

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