When the mythical Atlas found the burden of carrying this heavy planet and all its thankless, lazy inhabitants to be too great, he gave Earth the old heave-ho. And who can blame him? His brother Prometheus was off playing with fire, and we all know what the rest of the Greek gods were usually up to - why did Atlas have to work so hard for no thanks? (Obviously, he'd never hung out with a group of stay-at-home mothers, or he'd have been informed that the lowly Earth woman transformed her "unthanked" status to martyrdom in a few short decades.)
The timeless symbol of Atlas carrying his spherical burden was adopted by the author/philosopher Ayn Rand to symbolize the silent struggles of the producers and creators in society, the people who carry the slackers, suckers, users, takers and various other lazy types on the back of their productive efforts. She named this magnum opus of her philosophical vision Atlas Shrugged. For most readers, it is either a life-changing piece of work or the worst book you've ever not finished. I fall into the first category.
My aunt Jan recommended I read Ayn Rand's works of fiction in the order they were written, so I did. I liked Anthem, loved The Fountainhead, and became inspired by Atlas Shrugged. Her work informed many of the opinions I hold today, and in the 30 years since reading them, I've never seen a time when her predictions and observations were more relevant. I re-read Atlas Shrugged last summer, mostly to make sure that I wasn't just imagining all the political and cultural similarities between her dystopic story from the 1950s and my evening newscasts. I wasn't. She was spot-on with her predictions.
Talk of a movie has been bantered about at least since I read the book in the early 1980s. I gave up on seeing it actually happen long ago. When The Brangelina were discussed as leads and producers, I figured I'd never be willing to see it, even if it did get made. (That casting was all wrong, IMHO.)
But lo and behold, in February the announcement came that the film (without Brad and Ang) had not only been made, but was being done in three parts, with part one premiering on "Tax Day" of this year - April 15th. (Read all about the amazing struggle to bring this story to the screen here.) However, because of limited studio backing and no big stars to drive publicity, the film was originally only slated to open in five cities. One of those cities was Chicago, so back in February I informed Eric that I'd be driving there to see Atlas Shrugged on opening day.
Eric, who did read the book and takes an engineer's view that it says in 1000+ pages what he could have said in 150, was interested that a movie was on the way, but not ECSTATIC about it, like me.
"You can wait until it comes to South Bend," he blandly intoned, as he attentively watched what appeared to be miniature EKGs all over his laptop screen.
"You are joking, of course," I said, with a nervous giggle. Surely he couldn't believe this was one of the rare occasions on which I'd accept "no" as an answer.
"No, I'm not joking," he dangerously responded. "There's no reason you have to see it on opening day."
As if I needed a reason.
This very conversation occurred late last year as well, regarding another obscure movie I'd been waiting to see, called "The King's Speech." It opened on December 10th, as I recall, in limited release. I'd wanted to ride to Chicago for the opening, but Sargent. Moneypincher of the Delayed Gratification Police cleverly used my own profound lectures against me. Because I'm not a small child, his words were infuriating, but since I've managed to teach our girls a few lessons in the wisdom of not spending money impulsively, I sucked it up and figured I could wait until after Christmas, at least.
But he should really, really know better than to mess with me where Colin is involved.
I finally did get to see "The King's Speech" on January 21. It still wasn't showing in South Bend at that time, but I was fortunately in another town (Podunk, Alabama), where it had been playing for several weeks. Just to make sure I registered my displeasure, I saw it 3 more times once it finally premiered here in Bedrock (in February). I made sure to splurge on large popcorn and all the trimmings at each visit. I estimate I spent an extra $50 by not seeing it in Chicago opening weekend, so I made my point. Or so I thought.
"You've waited 30 years to see Atlas Shrugged made into a movie, what's a couple more weeks?"
Now Eric is undoubtedly brilliant, but you'd have to agree, he's not too bright. I immediately went into my special patented seething/pouty mode:
too tired to cook, forgetting his good shirts in the dryer for days, staying up late and falling asleep on furniture, loudly stumbling into bed at 3 am and greeting him with icy toes on the back of his shins. I had 2 girls' nights out this week. Just to make sure I was getting my point across, on Thursday, when he was expecting a nice, home-cooked meal, we had hot dogs. When it comes to Eric, nothing says, "I don't give a rat's fanny what you eat," as well as hot dogs. They are only loosely defined as "food" in his book, and he has yet to find a wine pairing that works. If he was being forced to eat hot dogs, he knew he was fighting a losing battle.
I was granted his blessing to buy tickets online that very night, and all four of us are heading to Kalamazoo, Michigan to see the 2:55pm showing today.
I hate to have to resort to such underhanded schemes to get my way, but hey, "Who is John Galt?"
Link to the movie's homepage at www.atlas-shrugged-movie.com .