No matter how bad things appear to be in modern politics, there are philosophical debates occurring that have never before been so accurately debated as they are currently, and John Aglialoro and his team of film makers working on the Atlas Shrugged films are at the heart of that push. While traditional media views box office results as the most important measure of success, many of them are oblivious as to why John Aglialoro after two box office failures of the Atlas films in Part I and now Part II, he is in script development on Part III which is scheduled for a summer 2014 release. In fact, his target date is the Fourth of July.
What many casual observers have failed to account for is that we are currently in an age of new media, where blogs and independent film have access to mass audiences through their computer screens. So while Hollywood attempts to hedge their products to the known markets carefully studied by studios run by mostly progressive investments injected into the studio system and filmgoers still show a willingness to spend $10 to $15 for a movie experience in a neighborhood multiplex, film makers like John Aglialoro are making his films for the new media market. While critics blasted the opening of Atlas Shrugged Part 2 in October of 2012 hoping to kill the film for its conservative messages, the DVD sales are sizzling in the spring of 2013 as audiences concerned with being seen in public viewing such a controversial film are more than willing to watch the movie in the privacy of their own home.
I think Aglialoro is at a similar place that George Lucas was at when he released his film THX-1138 to theaters in 1973. Nobody knew what to do with the film studios tried to cut the hell out of it. It took a long, long time for people to even accept THX-1138 which I believe was based closely on Ayn Rand’s novel Anthem, although I doubt he’d admit it in the light of day today—for fear of being lynched. Aglialoro is making an independent film in the Atlas pictures with a message that will upset a major portion of the American population, and he knows it—which is the point of the film. Art is not supposed to always be didactic stimulation of pleasurable emotions. Sometimes, it’s a mirror that we must look at which reflects the kind of society we are. This was the case in one of my all time favorite independent films that Francis Ford Coppola produced called Koyaanisqatsi (English pronunciation: /koʊjɑːnɪsˈkɑːtsiː/) also known as Koyaanisqatsi: Life Out of Balance. It’s a 1982 film directed by Godfrey Reggio with music composed by Philip Glass and cinematography by Ron Fricke. Koyaanisqatsi is one of my favorite films; I love it so much I have the soundtrack on CD. But, it could be said that much of the “green movement” was launched because of such films as progressives took the message to radical extremes which we see in the modern age 20 to 30 years later. Koyaanisqatsi as a film released today would be lucky to make $1 million dollars at the box office because it is just too heavy, and obscure for the average viewer. But, because of VHS video tape, and now DVDs, Koyaanisqatsi has been able to build up a kind of cult following over the last 30 years, and Coppola and Godfrey Reggio understood this when they produced the film. The goal was not to make money, although there does need to be a financial model that recovers the cost of making the film, the point was to make a statement about a “life out of balance.”
The filmmakers of Koyaanisqatsi interpreted that “out of balance life” with a progressive lens, but the way they recorded the impact of that balance was dramatic, and wonderful. However, the Atlas Shrugged films are also about a “life out of balance” but the solution goes several steps further than Koyaanisqatsi in analyzing the answer, which Aglialoro is quite well aware of. In a recent interview with Politico, Aglialoro explained why there was so much pushback against the Atlas films and why he is proceeding with the third one to an entertainment community that is shocked by his tenacity, “We’re not going to get critics coming on board,” Aglialoro said. “The academic-media complex out there doesn’t want to like the work, (Atlas films) doesn’t want to understand it, fears the lack of government in their lives, wants the presence of government taking care of us. … The MSNBC crowd doesn’t like us.” He’s right. Most of our current society the world over wants to believe in social theories that don’t work, and many more have built their lives around the type of balance shifting seen in Koyaanisqatsi only they are the cause of the destruction. They are the cause of the vacated buildings that were demolished from the public housing projects so famously destroyed in slow motion during the 1982 classic.
The making of the Atlas films are not only an adaptation of the Ayn Rand classic 1957 novel, but a statement about our current society. “The president said in his State of the Union address something to the effect of how preserving our individual freedoms means we must have collective action,” Aglialoro said. “Well, that’s contradicting the terms of the Declaration of Independence, that individual liberty is what we’re all about. So, there’s a clear opposition between that and Ayn Rand’s principles, based around life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.” When most people are guilty of committing such contradictions, it is highly likely that they will not rush out to see a film that exploits their contradictions. However, because people are generally good, or at least want to do well, they do watch these movies on their own terms and take in the information slowly over time.
Aglialoro wanted very much to rush Atlas Shrugged Part II out prior to the election hoping that politicians would jump on the bandwagon of the messages articulated in his films. But even long time Ayn Rand supporters like Paul Ryan pulled a Judas trying to distance himself from his support of the novel Atlas Shrugged which he has given away to staff members for years as presents. When he joined up with Mitt Romney for a Presidential run they attempted to play it safe and move away from the perceived radicalism of supporting Ayn Rand—to their own demise. “It would have served the campaign well if he would have embraced the natural way to capitalism that Ayn Rand, and I think Romney and Ryan should have quoted [her] over and over and over again during the campaign, that it’s the producers who should be applauded and appreciated and not denigrated, that ‘rich’ is not a dirty, four-letter word. It’s a good, four-letter word.”
At a FreedomWorks event prior to the release of Part II Harmon Kaslow, one of the producers and right-hand man to John Aglialoro gave me a lapel pin molded in the symbol of the Atlas Shrugged production company. It was the same button he was wearing as he spoke to nearly 20,000 people at the Duke Energy Center in September of 2012. The lapel pin is one that I now wear just about everywhere I go because it symbolizes not a collective connection to the filmmakers, but the understanding that we are part of an exclusive club that “understands” the answer to our modern problems in America are not only addressed in films like Koyaanisqatsi. It is in the Atlas films that the real solutions are being explored, and the pill is hard to swallow for most people—because it requires them to think completely different about most everything in their life, and they are uncomfortable with that knowledge. The button that I wear is the official membership pin for Galt’s Gulch where people who think along the lines that I do spend their spare time in the same spirit that it was done in the novel—which will be explored extensively in Part III which is now in production.
To go one step beyond the lapel pin that Kaslow gave me, at the premier of Atlas II buttons in the sign of the dollar were handed out to viewers because those present understood that the film Aglialoro was making had within it the answers America needs. It is only a matter of time before the rest of the world comes to understand the lessons. The people with the button were those closest to that realization. It’s not to say that you must have a button or be a part of an exclusive club to understand the work of Ayn Rand. But in wearing the lapel pin it lets others know that they are not alone, and that everyone in the world is not a complete idiot. Objectivism is spreading as the work done by The Ayn Rand Institute and The Atlas Society are helping more and more people deal with the difficulties of understanding the philosophy of Objectivism being introduced to them in the films John Aglialoro is producing. I personally feel that Ayn Rand’s philosophy is but a first step in a new direction that America should have always been traveling down. Objectivism is not the end of the journey, but only the beginning. Ayn Rand does not have all the answers, but the ones she proposes are good first steps in the right direction. I find that the philosophy of Robert Pirsig takes Rand’s thoughts to another level with his work on the Metaphysics of Quality. In his two books Zen and the Art of Motorcycle and Lila Pirsig without intending to, he proved Ayn Rand’s theories, and therefore Aristotle’s original arguments over Plato correct with an actual science that breaks down “quality” into definitions that can be understood. The path of modern philosophy is on that course starting with Rand, being explored by Pirsig and then being further refined in modern and future philosophers. But the philosophies of Kant, and Marx with the modern Chomsky are going to be rejected over the next two hundred years—mark it on your calendar. The war we are currently in that Aglialoro is fighting with his Atlas films is one of crawling out from under the failed philosophies of Marx and advancing Rand. Therefore, Aglialoro’s efforts have been successful, and it is wonderful to see that he is able to produce his third installment after so much tribulation and social resistance. In the end will turn out to be a work of resurrection for the country of America.
The lapel pins that we wear in public are so that we can recognize one another from the dangerous souls that are still clinging to the failed philosophies of the past. Like the film They Live (CLICK FOR REVIEW) where the heroes found that the entire planet was plagued with aliens disguised inside of human bodies and they could only tell the difference between them and the aliens by the sunglasses they wore, the pins let us know that the wearer is a person of thought and intelligence who is committed to the future of the human race, instead of the looting destruction of it. The lapel pins are acts of defiance against a society that has gone mad with stupidity. But the pins also mean more than that; it is for them that John Aglialoro is making the Atlas films. As an independent film maker he knows that time will bring more people to seek their own lapel pins, but for now, they are refined to the quiet of their own homes to watch Atlas in stunned silence. The people who wear their pins proudly in public are those who rush out into the public to see the film in a theater and do not fear public support of such a controversial philosopher in Ayn Rand. In that spirit, I am very ecstatic that Part III will arrive in theaters in the summer of 2014. I will be the first one in line and I might well be covered in lapel pins, like the guy below.