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Based on the 1951 Ray Bradbury novel of the same name. Guy Montag is a firefighter who lives in a lonely, isolated society where books have been outlawed by a government fearing an independent-thinking public. It is the duty of firefighters to burn any books on sight or said collections that have been reported by informants. People in this society including Montag's wife are drugged into compliancy and get their information from wall-length television screens. After Montag falls in love with book-hoarding Clarisse, he begins to read confiscated books. It is through this relationship that he begins to question the government's motives behind book-burning. Montag is soon found out, and he must decide whether to return to his job or run away knowing full well the consequences that he could face if captured.Written by
Brian Rathjen <email@example.com>
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 robot-like performance. See more »
As the firemen leave the apartment in the first raid, the sack is half full of books. The bag they toss over the balcony is twice as full. See more »
An Enterprise Vineyard Production. Oskar Werner, Julie Christie... in Fahrenheit four-five-one.
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The beginning credits are spoken instead of written on the screen. See more »
Originally Noel Davis (who plays Cousin Midge) did the opening voice over. In the current version it is done by Alex Scott ("The Life of Henry Brulard" Book Person). See more »
Ray Bradbury's famous novel about a future society in which books are outlawed gets the movie treatment. And the movie doesn't quite live up to the standards of the book. The basic skeleton of the novel's plot is here but director François Truffaut takes Bradbury's story and makes it his own. And at times the movie suffers for it. Much of the nuance and detail of the novel has been lost. Many important plot points have been changed entirely. But a movie adaptation of a novel doesn't have to be exactly like its original source material in order to succeed. Many novel-based films have changed all sorts of things about the book and been very successful. The problem here is not necessarily that there are changes but that the changes are made to no good effect. The movie's story is not as engrossing as the book's. And certainly not as entertaining. What was a thoroughly captivating book has been transformed into a very dry, often downright dull movie.
Right from the beginning, with the first call we see the book-burning firemen go out on, the movie is curiously sedate. The thrill of the novel is gone. The drama just isn't there. The story doesn't grab you. Oskar Werner's performance as the central character of Montag is rather stilted. Either Werner was very uncomfortable in his role or he was going for some kind of effect which just didn't work. The result is the character of Montag leaves much to be desired. And for a movie which is all about that character that's a problem. Montag suffers from a serious personality deficit and so does the movie. There's very little life to it. What little life there is is injected by Julie Christie's character of Clarisse. In a future world where people basically float through life as mindless zombies Clarisse dares to live and it is she who critically, and fatefully, opens Montag's eyes to the possibilities of the written word. Speaking of mindless zombies the other main character is Montag's wife Linda. She lives in a drug-induced stupor, living only vicariously through her wall-screen TV. Christie plays this part too, a neat idea. The contrast between the two women is obvious and that contrast is largely what the story is about, Montag finally seeing another option out there. He sees the chance to actually live a life. He sees what society has become, what has been lost with literature's demise. It was a great story in its original Bradbury incarnation. But greatness eludes this movie version. The book was like lively Clarisse. The movie is more like zombie Linda. The life has been sucked out of it. The basic gist of Bradbury's story remains but with all the changes made the story as presented here is not as compelling and clearly not as entertaining. The book was a real page-turner, the movie is a slowly-paced slog to the finish. In this book-burning tale the best advice is both obvious and ironic. Read the book.
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