Quote of the week...please share your favourite line from Ayn Rand's writings

“Happiness is that state of consciousness which proceeds from the achievement of one's values.”

Friday, July 31, 2009

Atlas Shrugged on small screen

Word is floating about Atlas Shrugged finally being made into a movie. While many are happy others are ... well, not-so-happy. I am one of the slightly sceptical one. My argument is on two counts: (a) movie adaptations of books, and (b) Rand's novels.

(a) Movie adaptations of books:
I have hardly ever seen any good movie adaptation of a book. The movie always takes something away from the story told in words. Some parts which you think were essential to the novel are completely missed out in the movie. The movie in the end is one person's imagination of the novel (the director's).

(b) Rand's novels:
There are some books you read which change you, some preach about being better, some show the 'real' side of life. But Rand's novels introduce you to your essential self. Post your read, words like morality, selfishness and happiness have a greater meaning. The novels are not just another great story told very well (whereas they do make a great read!) But they engage you for a philosophical self-discovery. This is perhaps very difficult to freeze in a frame.

If anyone hasn't seen ' The Fountainhead' movie, here's the link. As much as I was waiting to see Howard Roark in flesh and blood, I was a little disappointed to see the actor in this film. Perhaps, Howard Roark cannot be in flesh and blood, he is an idea of a free man. An ultimate destination of being free, which is always a mark higher than us.

Here's hoping the makers of the Atlas Shrugged series, do justice to the written word.

Read the article on the series here.


  1. The apparent lack of success of "Fountainhead", the movie, and the limitation of Gary Cooper as Howard Roark in that film, is hardly an indication that "Perhaps, Howard Roark cannot be in flesh and blood, he is an idea of a free man."
    If we think ideals are not possible in practice, then we need to either check the ideals, or do a reality check. This is the kind of mind-body dichotomy that AR had warned about, which can destroy anyone who holds such contradictions.

  2. Point taken Barun.
    What I meant by "Perhaps, Howard Roark cannot be in flesh and blood, he is an idea of a free man." is that he perhaps is "An ultimate destination of being free, which is always a mark higher than us." Something which we aim to reach and is at a higher level than where we are.
    As I am writing, I begin to think that in fact Howard Roark was always someone who had absolute ideas. Does that mean that every human being is born with the absolute ideas and cannot alter at all for what he thinks is better..?
    This infact makes him an 'ideal' man.

  3. For the purpose of the novel, authors have to limit the scope of the book. So Howard Roark in "The Fountainhead", and John Galt in "Atlas Shrugged", are presented as the ideal man. But there are other significant characters, Dominique, Dagny, Hank Rearden, and some of the minor characters such as the Wet Nurse and Cheryl (both in AS), go through their own trials and tribulations to discover the ideals that they hold dear.
    Clearly, every human being is most definitely not born with any absolute idea, but that makes it all the more necessary to discover those ideals, and try to live by them.

  4. I think what Barun is alluding to--and also what Kirti seems to have identified in the character of Howard Roark--is the virtue of moral ambition. Ayn Rand called "pride" as a demonstration of moral ambition.

    Just as we hold ambitions to wealth, fame, success, etc., Ayn Rand introduced the notion of being ambitious in morality, in one's character and virtues.
    This idea is particularly pertinent to atheists like Objectivists because our moral rudder exists within our own selves and is governed by our own volition. It is up to us--and for our own selfish reasons, not because of God, anointed authority or some such reason--to uphold a moral character and proper way of life.
    Achieving this moral character--or at least being commited to unbreached rationality--results in moral pride and self-esteem.

    Howard Roark epitomizes a man of unbreached rationality, which means, pride, moral ambition, and self-esteem. This is clearly not an ideal in the platonic sense but a very achievable, practicable, and real goal in life.

  5. Indeed! I agree one hundred percent with what Jerry says above. In fact, anyone who commits himself/herself to thinking, and not evading, is in essence a Howard Roark or John Galt.

    Interestingly, at many of the recent Tea Party protests throughout the US, several Objectivists participated with campaign buttons that read "I am John Galt"

  6. Did you know that Gary Cooper didn't understand a word of that Roark speech he gave and told the script writer so? That's why that ending scene is so unconvincing. They needed to pick someone fresh, and a real Howard Rowark would have been just fine for the role.

    Remember that architect serial in Hindi, anyone? Did you see the characterization of Toohey, Gail, Keating, Dominique, Roark's teacher, AND, Roark himself? That was AMAZING! People just fit into their roles. I can never forget Keating for example. And Roark's teacher, when I read the book later, I could only imagine the Hindi Serial guy doing that!! Even to this day !!

    Incidentaly, for once, I agree substantially with this thread. You're all not a bunch of losers! There's Hope ! :)

  7. I think it was Ayn Rand who wanted to have Gary Cooper as Howard Roark? But even other wise, a professional actor is not expected to agree with all the lines he mouths of emotes. Acting by definition would mean putting body and voice to what others (director and screen writer, etc) want to be depicted thro' the actor. The Fountainhead the film just did not rise to the expectation.
    The Hindi serial which tried to adapt The Fountainhead was directed and produced by Vasani(?) and ran on DD, for quite a few weeks. And if I remember right, it fizzled out even without completing, as the adaptation kept moving further away from the book.
    More interesting was the Zeenat Aman starer feature film based on "Night of Jan 16".

  8. Listen, Ayn Rand was also susceptible to her vagaries and whatnots. She was a woman. Its not even Ayn Rand that's important. Its her work. Its her world that she created and showed that it existed.

    Its that she showed me in her novels that if you take this path, it Will Work in the end! Throughout her novels, she is consistent in showing how it works to the end, and that this is what you need to do to make it work .. brilliant genius. That was the eye opener ! She in her novel kept her integrity, just like she made Roark and Galt keep theirs. That was the best thing that she did. That is the cause for your motivation, incidentally.

    Now what was this Zeenat Aman Movie, did it also star Naveen Nischol?

  9. The Hindi movie adaptation of "Night of January 16", was Gawaahi, 1989. Starring Zeenat Aman. I found a link here.

    If anyone can find the video / CD / DVD of this film, please let me know.

  10. I saw "Gawaahi" ages ago when it was first released - and was quite stunned. I did not expect what I saw. It is a very well done movie, and Zeenat Aman shone in a way I did not expect her to. As did Shekhar Kapoor. It was quite true to the book.
    However, if anyone is interested in seeing true depiction of Rand's novel - find "We the Living". Ironically enough, it was produced in Fascist Italy. Alida Valli as Kira is simply amazing! The movie is simply brilliant!
    See here:

  11. In fact the Atlas Meet in Delhi organized a special screening of the fabulous film "We the Living" in August 2010.

    Those interested in owning a DVD set of 'We The Living' can send an email to vbajaj@aynrand.in