The world will never run out of assholes. That’s what a Libertarian friend of mine says and I agree with him. You know the kind of people I’m talking about: the ruthless, get-out-of-my-way, rules-are-for-suckers kind of folks who cut in line and run stop signs. Why then would anyone try to enable the endless supply of assholes we’ve already got and additionally invite everyone else to jump onto the asshole bandwagon? This is the question I asked myself of directors Little & Anderson as I watched their film Ayn Rand in Her Own Words.
Ok, the idea of any author with the notoriety of Ayn Rand having a film based on nothing but her telling her own story is not bad. Heck, I’d watch a film of Al Capone, Charlie Manson, or Attilla the Hun telling their own stories. And I’ll bet they could tell some doozies too. The problem is that Attilla’s version of “The Upside to Ravaging Europe” doesn’t lend itself to a subtitle like “...And Anyone Who’s Smart Should Do The Same Thing”.
To be a plain in-her-own-words historical document, there should be no promotion, just monologue. Yet for some reason I felt that Little and Anderson were pitching Rand in a positive rather than a neutral light. Call me suspicious. For instance, the old-school TV interviewer Mike Wallace calls out Rand for her “un-Christian selfishness” and she counters with her explanation of why selfishness is OK. It might appear she’d won the debate since there is no cross examination from Wallace.
Then again, that’s not what this film is about. It’s Ayn Rand in her own words. And you can’t argue with that.
Little and Anderson were, according to their own press release, looking to catch the Atlas Shrugged (Part 1)wave that the film version of Rand’s novel of the same name would make when it hit the theaters on April 15. Sadly the reports back from the critic’s trenches are not good. Still there may be more Ayn Rand talk in the coming months. So this might be a handy DVD to have around... regardless of your opinion of her or her books.
For those in the “Me First Chorus,” this film will be a pure harmony of the highest order. I recommend it be kept in the Rugged Individualist’s Survival Kit along with copies of Fountainhead and Atlas Shrugged, the Kugerands, a box of shotgun shells and a 50-pound bag of dried beans. I’ll be hanging on to my copy as a pretty nifty historical document to be filed away in the “Decline of Western Civilization” file, sub-heading Individualism Run Amok, see also: Nietzsche, Wagner, and Tony Soprano.
The DVD has “Multiple Featurettes”.. such as: Childhood Parties, Comments on the Future, Characters of the Fountainhead, and Ayn’s Memory of Alan Greenspan (which is also my favorite — should the incipient securitized mortgage scandal ever break into the mainstream, the Greenspan piece is going to be priceless.) However, the packaging advertises the extra features as being: Who Is Howard Roark?, Childhood Parties, First Impressions of Alan Greenspan, Comments on Culture Today. ...Well, they got the Childhood Parties right.
Picture and Sound
Ayn Rand in Her Own Words is curiously well made. Rand is intelligible most of the time and if you can’t cut her Russian accent, there are subtitles. It only drifts occasionally into odd documentation and extreme blow-ups of low-rez newspaper images. But I wonder, if she had such a poor start in life, how did all of those pictures of her childhood survive?
How to Use This DVD
Take with a grain of salt. For recreational use only.