Who is John Galt? All who have read Ayn Rand’s magnificent 1,200 page novel know the answer. She wrote about heroes and villains in stories set in philosophical issues. If you are unfamiliar with her novels you can always check out the 1949 film “The Fountainhead” which features Gary Cooper and Patricia Neal in a movie similar in many ways to Atlas Shrugged Part 1 with the underlying subjects being architecture, newspaper publishing and public opinion. Should you see Atlas Shrugged Part 1 based on the first third of the novel? Yes, but it would help if you have already read the novel. The movie is assumptive. It assumes you know the answer to the most important question of the novel.
As the film opens we witness an event where a shadowy stranger approaches a character named Midas Mulligan. They have a secret conversation and then we see an on screen tag that says “Midas Mulligan: Vanished on a date in 2016”. Unless you know who MM was and why he vanished you are going to be confused by the storyline. At least for the first 30 minutes. Since we don’t know who these characters are or why they are talking we have no idea why one of them would vanish.
This portion of the story centers on two business people, Henry “Hank” Reardon and Dagny Taggart. He is a metals genius and business success story. She is the co-owner of a family railroad system that is having issues. They need each other. What follows is a story about heroes, villains and moral issues. The heroes are business people of integrity and vision. The villains are government bureaucrats who want to be in control of the heroes and cannot emulate their accomplishments. They pass laws and regulate like crazy but always in the interest of “the people”.
In the background is John Galt. Who is he? What is going on? Why do business people keep disappearing? Look for the answer in next week’s review Atlas Shrugged Part 1 (Part 2).