A new article “Atlas Shrugged pushing high-speed rail?” on CNET begins with the premise that “Contemporary high-speed rail seems to have gotten the nod as a plan worthy of pursuit from the makers of the long-awaited film version of Atlas Shrugged, Ayn Rand’s controversial Objectivist novel in which the railroad industry plays a key role.”
Author Candace Lombardi notes that the trains in the movie (shown below, at left) do, indeed, look much more like today’s high-speed railways (at right, an artist’s rendering of the proposed California high-speed rail line) than like the trains of the 1950s:
Of course, their presence in the movie hardly constitutes and endorsement of the various government-funded high-speed rail projects being advanced around the country and — despite her article’s initial implication that the movie might somehow endorse those projects — Lombardi arrives at the same conclusion herself:
The real-life U.S. high-speed rail project is backed by a combination of federal, state, and private funding. But one could safely assume that the fictional high-speed rail project of “Atlas Shrugged, Part I” is privately funded, in keeping with Rand’s original plot and her personal belief that “the only way a government can be of service to national prosperity is by keeping its hands off.”
Adding a high-speed rail angle to the film might, actually, be the greatest tribute the filmmakers pay to the book’s original intent. Its inclusion could result in a film that’s of interest to all sides of the political spectrum, and, therefore, maximize its profit potential.
This suggests a clever honey-pot: Come to the movie a proponent of high-speed rail; leave the theater a proponent of privatization. I can hear Brian O’Toole’s triumphant muahahaha somewhere in the back of the theater…