Anthem tells the story of a future world that has accepted the collectivist ideal that society takes precedence over the individual. The word "I" is forbidden and everyone refers to himself as "we". The economy has collapsed into a Dark Age while the political system has become a totalitarian dictatorship. Within this society, a lone individual dares to independently pursue his own values. In the fields of the countryside, he pursues the love of one woman above all others, and in a mysterious chamber from the world of the past, he rediscovers electricity. For this transgression, he is beaten and imprisoned, but he fights against the collective to win his freedom and discover the moral sanctity of the individual.
ADAPTING THE NOVEL TO FILM
Ayn Rand wrote Anthem as a first person diary, with the climactic event being the hero's discovery of "I" while reading an ancient book. A diary is the perfect literary means for creating a story about the rediscovery of man the individual, since the character can disclose his innermost thoughts and feelings. However, in a movie, this method would be deficient, since the story must be dramatized visually with action. Ayn Rand once said herself that if she adapted Anthem into a movie, she would have to expand the story to give it a stronger plot.
As an example of how the screenplay differs from the novel, the book begins mysteriously with the narrator discussing "we", and the reader believes there are several people in a chamber. It gradually becomes apparent that the narrator is an individual who refers to himself as "we". This is a highly innovative literary technique for showing that this society has lost the word "I". However, the use of this technique would not be as powerful in a movie because the viewer would soon see that the narrator is alone. Instead, the script adaptation begins with a visually arresting dramatization of the individual versus the collective as we witness 1000 members of the collective execute a lone Transgressor for uttering the Forbidden Word, "I". This is a visual dramatization of the issue and core conflict of the story.
Serious interested parties can contact us to obtain the 8 page treatment or 110 page screenplay of the movie.