Fahrenheit 451 (1966 film)
Fahrenheit 451 is a 1966 science fiction drama film directed by François Truffaut and starring Oskar Werner, Julie Christie, and Cyril Cusack.
Based on the 1953 novel of the same name by Ray Bradbury (1920–2012), the film is about an oppressive future in which a fireman, whose duty it is to destroy all books, begins to question his task.
This was Truffaut’s first colour film as well as his only English-language film.
At the 1966 Venice Film Festival, Fahrenheit 451 was nominated for the Golden Lion.
In the future, a totalitarian government employs a force known as Firemen to seek out and destroy all literature, permitting them to search anyone, anywhere, at any time.
One of the Firemen, Guy Montag (Oskar Werner), meets one of his neighbours, Clarisse (Julie Christie), a 20-year-old schoolteacher whose job is hanging by a thread due to her unorthodox views. The two have a discussion about his job, where she asks if he ever reads the books he burns. Curious, he begins to hide books in his house, and begins reading them, starting with Charles Dickens‘ David Copperfield.
This leads to conflict with his wife, Linda, who is more concerned with being popular enough to be a member of The Family, an interactive television program that refers to its viewers as “cousins“.
While not one of Truffaut’s strongest film, it is nonetheless one of his few explicitly political works and also boasts sharp imagery by Roeg) and indelible score by Herrmann.
É trágico constatar que a visão de Bradbury vem tornando-se cada vez mais real: a diferença é que, em vez de queimados, os livros vêm sendo simplesmente ignorados.
—Fahrenheit 451 (1966)
François Truffaut said that this was his only film in which he clashed with an actor – Oskar Werner. Truffaut asked Werner to forgo heroics and act with a level of modesty, but Werner chose to play it with arrogance. Truffaut disliked the stilted performance Werner gave and insisted he play it like a monkey discovering books for the first time, sniffing at them, wondering what they are; Werner argued that a science fiction film called for a robotic-like performance.
An Underrated Movie
Its depiction of a narcissistic, alienated, superficial, mass media lobotomized culture might ring true for more than a few of us. The movie also shows the fireman’s wife as being addicted to downers/uppers. All of the “normal” human relations that are shown in the movie appear to be detached and lacking emotion.
People are not to trouble themselves with unpleasant thoughts or feelings. Hence, the banning of books and literature. They bring up unpleasant, sad, and depressing subjects. They depict too much of life as it actually is. This is troubling to people. Consequently, the government pushes drugs, emotion-free and sanitized sex, and witless mass media.
I think both Truffaut and Werner wanted the audience to see the fireman’s partial dehumanization. He recovers much of that humanity as the film progresses.
6 July 2000 | by dusted1 (Portland, OR)
—Fahrenheit 451 (1966)
—Tell me, why do you burn books?
—What? Well, it’s a job like any other. Good work with lots of variety. Monday, we burn Miller; Tuesday, Tolstoy, Wednesday, Walt Whitman, Friday, Faulkner; and Saturday and Sunday, Schopenhauer and Satre. ‘We burn them to ashes and then burn the ashes.’ that’s our official motto.
—Come on now, madam. We’re going to burn the house.
—What do you want, martyrdom?
—I want to die as I’ve lived.
—You must have read that in there. Now, look, I’m not going to ask you again. Are you going?
—These books were alive; they spoke to me!
—You must’ve said something that…
—Oh I never got along well with the staff, they disapprove of me… I… don’t always stick to the times tables… well we have fun in my class, and they don’t like that.
Robinson Crusoe, the Negroes didn’t like that because of his man, Friday. And Nietzsche, Nietzsche, the Jews didn’t like Nietzsche. Here’s a book about lung cancer. You see, all the cigarette smokers got into a panic, so for everybody’s peace of mind, we burn it.
Go on, Montag, all this philosophy, let’s get rid of it. It’s even worse than the novels. Thinkers and philosophers, all of them saying exactly the same thing: “Only I am right! The others are all idiots!”
These are all novels, all about people that never existed, the people that read them it makes them unhappy with their own lives. Makes them want to live in other ways they can never really be.
Look, all stories of the dead, biography that’s called, and autobiography. My life, my diary, my memoirs, my – intimate memoirs.
You see, it’s… it’s no good, Montag. We’ve all got to be alike. The only way to be happy is for everyone to be made equal.
—He knows someone who has books, so he got hold of the person’s picture and number and is going to drop it into that box.
—But he’s an informer!
—No, he’s an informant.
—Is it true that a long time ago firemen used to put out fire and not burn books?
—Really, your uncle is right. You are light in the head. ‘Put fires out?’ Who told you that?
—I don’t know. Someone. But is it true?
—What a strange idea. Houses have always been fireproof.
Clarisse: Ours isn’t.
—Well, then, it should be condemned one of these days. It has to be destroyed and you will have to move to a house that is fireproof.
—But why do you burn books?
—Books make people unhappy, they make them anti-social.
—Do you think I’m anti-social?
To learn how to find, one must first learn how to hide.
x x x
Fahrenheit 451 is a 1953 dystopian novel by Ray Bradbury. The novel presents a future American society where books are outlawed.
The novel has been the subject of various interpretations, primarily focusing on the historical role of book burning in suppressing dissenting ideas. Bradbury has stated that the novel is not about censorship, but a story about how television destroys interest in reading literature, which leads to a perception of knowledge as being composed of factoids, partial information devoid of context.
The book’s name comes from the autoignition temperature of paper.
First published in 1953 by Ballantine Books.
Fahrenheit 451 was serialized in the March, April, and May 1954 issues of Playboy.
Bradbury wrote the entire novel in the basement of UCLA’s Powell Library on a pay typewriter that he rented for a fee of ten cents per half an hour.
* Fahrenheit 451
Once described as a “Midwest surrealist“, he is generally labeled a science fiction writer. Bradbury resisted that categorization, however:
First of all, I don’t write science fiction. I’ve only done one science fiction book and that’s Fahrenheit 451, based on reality. It was named so to represent the temperature at which paper ignites. Science fiction is a depiction of the real. Fantasy is a depiction of the unreal. So Martian Chronicles is not science fiction, it’s fantasy. It couldn’t happen, you see? That’s the reason it’s going to be around a long time — because it’s a Greek myth, and myths have staying power.
On another occasion, Bradbury observed that the novel touches on the alienation of people by media:
In writing the short novel Fahrenheit 451 I thought I was describing a world that might evolve in four or five decades. But only a few weeks ago, in Beverly Hills one night, a husband and wife passed me, walking their dog. I stood staring after them, absolutely stunned. The woman held in one hand a small cigarette-package-sized radio, its antenna quivering. From this sprang tiny copper wires which ended in a dainty cone plugged into her right ear. There she was, oblivious to man and dog, listening to far winds and whispers and soap opera cries, sleep walking, helped up and down curbs by a husband who might just as well not have been there. This was not fiction.
It was in UCLA’s Powell Library, in a study room with typewriters for rent, that Bradbury wrote his classic story of a book-burning future, The Fireman, which contained about 25,000 words. It was later published at about 50,000 words under the name Fahrenheit 451.
—Ray Bradbury (August 22, 1920 – June 5, 2012)
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