Fahrenheit 451

Tagged: Film

Film (1966). Anglo-Enterprise and Vineyard/Universal. Directed by François Truffaut. Written by Truffaut, Jean-Louis Richard, based on Fahrenheit 451 (February 1951 Galaxy as "The Fireman"; exp 1953) by Ray Bradbury. Cast includes Julie Christie, Cyril Cusack, Anton Diffring and Oscar Werner. 112 minutes. Colour.

Bradbury's angry parable is about a future Dystopia in which all books are banned. The hero (Werner) is a member of the Fire Brigade, whose function is not to put out fires but to burn books. He first questions the regime and then rebels totally, incinerating the fire chief instead of the books, escaping from the City and joining a rural community whose members are each memorizing a book, word for word, in order to preserve it. The film is more ambiguous than the book and, so to speak, lacks its fire; Truffaut seems not altogether to accept Bradbury's moral simplicity. This is particularly evident at the end, with the book people murmuring aloud the words they are committing to memory, while plodding about the snow-covered landscape like zombies. The words may be saved but literature itself seems dead. The film is well photographed by Nicolas Roeg, later the celebrated director of, among others, The Man who Fell to Earth (1976). [JB/PN]

see also: Cinema; Communications.

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