The feature-length documentary “Ayn Rand & the Prophecy of ‘Atlas Shrugged‘” is currently in its final week of a month-long limited national theater run, having to date played to enthusiastic audiences in upwards of 75 cities, including New York, Washington, Los Angeles, Toronto, Stamford, Boston and Annapolis, Md.
The documentary will be available on DVD and download beginning in April through Virgil Films (“Restrepo,””Forks Over Knives”) complete with extra features.
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Author/philosopher Rand began writing her last and most ambitious novel – “Atlas Shrugged” – in the years immediately following World War II. Her working title for the book was “The Strike.” It was about what would happen if all the productive people in America went on strike, leaving the entitlement recipients and governmental regulators she called “moochers” and “looters” without anyone to create value for them.
The result is chaos and ultimate disaster.
The post-war years and early ’50s are generally thought to be a relatively prosperous and benign period in twentieth century American history. Yet that’s the period through which Rand painstakingly crafted her novel. When it was published in 1957, “Atlas” was widely dismissed for its “preposterous” scenario. “Atlas” was science fiction. In no way, said the critics, did it depict the real America. Not yet, Rand said. In fact, she wrote the novel in the hope she might prevent it from coming true.
Despite the criticism, “Atlas Shrugged” became a bestseller and continued to sell through the decades. Tens of thousands of copies still fly off shelves, both digital and physical, each year. And though readers occasionally noticed similarities between “Atlas”‘s plot and the way things were going in America, you didn’t hear the name Ayn Rand or the titles of her novels or subsequent philosophical essays spoken very often. But readers were noticing, and little by little, as the century turned, you began to see and hear Rand and “Atlas Shrugged” referenced in the media and public discourse.
By 2008, in the wake of one disastrous administration and on the threshold of another, people who had read “Atlas” were picking it up again. Events mirrored the novel’s plot.
An ever burgeoning government churned out upwards of 5,000 new federal regulations per year. The financial system was corrupt. Wall Street was rigged, the economy melting down even as the government stooges that had created or facilitated the mess called for wider powers.
Meanwhile, the new president talked about “redistribution of wealth” and Americans having to sacrifice and taxing the rich in a time of need. And – hold on a second – hadn’t all that happened in the book?
What did Rand know and how did she know it?
“Ayn Rand & the Prophecy of Atlas Shrugged” is the biography of a book and an idea. It provides a close examination of Rand’s controversial novel and the validity of its dire prediction for America.