18th December 2016. – The Fountainhead

The undeniable splendour of the somewhat whimsical set design, the beautiful tenacity of the storyline, the artfulness of factual reference woven into a genuine yet undeniable classic that entertains so readily. It is frankly comical how much I enjoy ‘The Fountainhead’ film as an adaptation of the 1943 Ayn Rand novel. When asked to watch it as part of my critical thinking blog, I was delighted, like anyone would be digging an old friend off the shelves and dusting it down for watching. My only hope was that my enthusiasm toward the film in question still remained upon reacquainting myself, for so many of my respected peers spoke of the film in such a condemnatory way in response to my eagerness.

In case you had not established already, I am a huge fan of the film, surely it is thoroughly deserving given Ayn Rand herself wrote the novel over a period of Seven years, under the influence of Benzedrine a drug used to fight the causes of fatigue – a testimony to the importance of this novel in her life and also a testimony to her will to share the strong views she held toward the political causes it challenged.

An interesting personal predicament this week was choosing a topic to be critical about within the subject, for there are so many parts of the script that could be scrutinised for an interesting discussion. Instead I chose to write a brief introduction to some of the dialogue that stood out for me in the latest watching of the film.

“There’s no place for originality in architecture; nobody can improve on buildings of the past, one can only learn to master copying them” – The opening scene sees Howard Roarke a visionary young architect promoting his passion for what will later be known as ‘modernism’, being crushed at architecture school and expelled for his stubbornness. I feel that Rand was immediately making a statement about how she felt education was being controlled at the time to build robot like figures.

“I don’t want any visionaries striding around here, you are an egotist, twenty years ago I’d have punched your face with the greatest of pleasure. You’re coming to work for me tomorrow morning at nine o clock.” – Roark is employed by another visionary, one who runs his practise as an egotist and has lived the life Roark so desperately pursues. Similar in so many ways to Frank Lloyd Wright’s early partnership with Louis Sullivan, post his disastrous apprenticeship building copycat projects in Chicago, this surely an influence on Ayn Rand’s narrative given the parallel time period.

“It was his duty to sacrifice his own desires, act on any ideas we demanded of him, on any terms we chose. Who is society, we are. Man can be permitted to exist only in order to serve others, he must be nothing but a tool to the satisfaction of societies needs. Self sacrifice is the law of our age. A man, who refuses to submit, is a man who must be destroyed.” – The calling speech of a manhunt for Roarke, or in Ayn Rand’s ideal symbolism, I interpret a manhunt for all visionaries of the time by society itself.

“You cannot turn men into slaves unless you kill their spirit, kill their capacity to think and act on their own”. “Great men cannot be ruled, if you kill a man’s sense of personal value, he will submit.” – Strong words from lead antagonist of the story, given Rand’s public displays of political activism at the time, one must assume this speech is aimed at all elements of life and the way in which the power has shifted in society.

I am yet to reference the intertwined connection Roarke has with architectural critique Dominique throughout the novel, perhaps Rand used the fashionable romanticism at the time to make her writing more appealing to the masses, or perhaps Dominique represents society itself? The whole story displays her struggle to comprehend the beautiful future Roarke portrays, whilst fighting everything currently endured from the past, until in the final scene we are treated to an endless climb up Roarke’s magnificent erection, a symbol of enlightenment and a sign that society has finally managed to escape the mould and embrace modernism perhaps?

I implore you to  visit Amazon and buy this DVD, I could write so much more on the subject, but am fearful of ruining the storyline for those who have not had the pleasure. Enjoy it for the comical representation of theatre, or search for your own hidden meanings, as I have, either way please enjoy it nonetheless, as I have once again for my final critical thinking blog post.


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