Atlas Shrugged Part 1  

by director Paul Johansson

I first discovered Ayn Rand’s works at the age of seventeen. The hair was standing up on my arms as I finished Atlas Shrugged. It stirred something inside of me that has shaped my life in a way no other book has since. I discovered a different kind of hero, one who had chosen to live his life by reason and rationality, threatened only by other men’s evasion of reality. Subsequently I delved deeply into her other works and found great inspiration in her ideas.

I met the producers twelve days before principal photography was to begin. After the meeting I was fully aware of the obstacles that would have to be overcome. They wanted the story contemporized. There was no cast. And I had to figure a way to create a cinematic experience in a non-traditionally structured script. In fact, the story was open-ended as the producers had decided this film would be released as a trilogy. I knew even under the perfect circumstances, with all the time and money available, this would still be a project held to great scrutiny.

I went home after the meeting and decided not to do it. But I woke up the next day and realized it was a moment in my life I couldn’t let slip by. It was an opportunity to recreate in others that feeling I had at age seventeen. By choosing to become a director I had an obligation to tell the best stories I could regardless of my circumstances. Despite the dense source material and complex interplay of the philosophy with the characters, the paramount challenge was keeping to the simplicity in the story. I found the idea of making a modern version interesting. Not just with the nuances of dialogue but the implementation of our own current social and political crisis.

I am constantly asked my political affiliation because of my involvement in this film. It is this: None. I am an artist. I tell stories.

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