Who is John Galt? And is he ready for his close up?


Author: Lana Harfoush

Ayn Rand fans take note, the movie that’s already taken over thirty years to make is starting up production once again. On Monday, Variety reported that a independent feature film version of Rand’s Atlas Shrugged began shooting last weekend in Los Angeles, after years of unsuccessful attempts to make the film. The movie has a relatively small budget of $5 million and a cast less notable than expected in the recent past. But far more important than production costs and flashy cast members are Rand’s promotion of individualism and free society. Originally published in 1957, Atlas Shrugged is a tale of a dystopian United States, in which industry is crippled by government control.  

Actually, there are many great liberty-themed novels and stories that have been made into movies.  To commemorate the Atlas cameras rolling, here’s a list of three popular films inspired by fictional pro-liberty works. (Remember these for your Netflix queue.) 

1) 2081 (Watch the trailer here)

This short film which premiered in 2009 is based on Kurt Vonnegut’s short story “Harrison Bergeron.”  The film takes place in a dystopian society which has “finally [made] everyone equal.”  Unfortunately for the story’s characters, equality is only obtained by bringing anyone who is exceptional in some way (be it mentally or physically) down to an average level. The strong must carry weights.  The intelligent must listen to loud squeals on headphones, which interrupt their thoughts.  A government official called the “Handicapper General” enforces these regulations provided by the fictional 211th, 212th, and 213th amendments to the Constitution.  This film vividly captures the essence of Vonnegut’s story as the viewer watches the truly exceptional Harrison Bergeron courageously protest the restrictions in place.  The movie is available for purchase here. 2081 is among many liberty-friendly films the Moving Picture Institute has helped create.  You can learn about MPI here.

Note: In 1995, there was also a TV movie made for Showtime entitled Harrison Bergeron starring Sean Astin, Christopher Plummer, and Eugene Levy.

2) 1984 (Watch the Trailer here)

Long before British television moguls perverted Orwell’s concept of “Big Brother” into a reality show, the British movie makers adapted it into film. 1984 was based on George Orwell’s timeless novel of the same name. The movie was released appropriately, in 1984. This story details the life of Winston Smith, who spends his days rewriting history at the Ministry of Truth in accordance with the oppressive totalitarian state’s wishes.  This dystopian society is monitored by the Thought Police who punish people who have committed “thoughtcrime”–basically thinking anything that could damage totalitarian party in control. “Big Brother is watching you.” It’s only fair to return the favor and watch Big Brother on screen.  

3) V for Vendetta (Watch the trailer here)

The film V for Vendetta is based on a graphic novel by Alan Moore and David Lloyd.  The film was released in 2005 and follows the journey of “V” who is a vigilante on a mission to destroy the fascist government that controls a dystopian United Kingdom– all while wearing a Guy Fawkes mask. Like the previous two picks, this movie provides a terrifying vision of a future where government has unlimited power and the people, stripped of all individual freedoms, suffer immeasurably because of those governments. 

True, these cinematic adaptations aren’t perfectly accurate representations of their literary counterparts, but all help promote ideas of free enterprise and free societies.  ith today’s bailouts, restrictions on economic liberty, and an ever-expanding regulatory state, messages of freedom have an important role to play on the big screen.  Though it remains to be seen if this attempt of bringing Atlas to the box office will be successful, the general effort is encouraging. If its successfully made, it will be another reminder for the movie-going public that our liberties must not be taken for granted.