Fahrenheit 451 (1966) Poster

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An excellent adaptation of a great novel.
panamajaq0414 May 2004
In a future where books have been outlawed, firemen are paid to burn books instead of put fires out. However, one fireman realizes that what he is doing is wrong and decides to go against the degenerate society he lives in.

I have read reviews of this movie calling it "boring" and "outdated," and frankly I am amazed by how ignorant some people can be. Calling "Fahrenheit 451" outdated simply because the set designs look old and because there are no flashy computer effects shows that you have completely missed the point. The people who made this were not trying to give you a spectacle, they were trying to give you a message - a message that is even more important today than it was when this movie came out.

"Fahrenheit 451" is a fine adaptation of Ray Bradbury's classic novel about censorship. The movie changes many of the book's events, but the spirit of the book is preserved. The cinematography is truly great and the score is quite powerful. The acting is also great. Oskar Werner is right on the money as Montag the fireman. Julie Christie is wonderful playing dual roles as yin and yang: Montag's zombie-like wife, Linda, and Montag's friend, the young and energetic Clarisse. Cyril Cusack is also memorable as the evil Fire Captain Beatty - he isn't a cartoon villain, but a very realistic and human character.

You may think that "Fahrenheit 451" delivers an irrelevant message. You may think that book burning is a thing of the past, a relic of Nazi Germany and Communist Russia. Look around you - book burning happens every day! How do you feel about people trying to ban "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" because the word "nigger" is used in it? How about whole sections of "Doctor Dolittle" being rewritten so that they are politically correct? Did you know that school textbooks may not make any mention of Mount Rushmore because it is offensive to a certain Indian tribe? Meanwhile, we are watching our giant-screen TVs and listening to our Walkmans (two inventions that were predicted by Bradbury). We are constantly "plugged in" and never take any time to just sit and think. Look around you - Ray Bradbury's story is coming true. I advise you to watch this movie, and to read the book. (Read the book first. You will appreciate the film more.)

I hear that a remake is in the works. No doubt it will be filled with gaudy special effects and silly Hollywood cliches. I guess I should hold off judgment until I actually see it, but I doubt that it will contain any of the genius that can be found in this sadly underrated gem. It will be interesting to see what they do with the mechanical hound, though....
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8/10
Imagine a world without books....
Billie12 May 2005
Fahrenheit 451" is a strange film, hard to describe. No one could have interpreted the classic Bradbury novel in the same bizarre, fascinating manner as Francois Truffaut. It's a book, and a film, about freedom, choices, individuality, and intellectual repression in a future where books are forbidden; where Firemen are men who start fires...fires in which they burn books.

It was also the first color film directed by Truffaut. Although he by all accounts was not happy about making a color film and found it a bit unsettling, color is used to great effect here; sparingly, except for the extreme shade of red that is seen throughout.

"Fahrenheit 451" is supposed to be the temperature at which book paper catches fire, as the protagonist Guy Montag (Oskar Werner) explains in a scene at the beginning. Guy is a Fireman who seems happy enough with his life until he is approached by a young woman named Clarisse (Julie Christie) on his way home from work one day. She starts up a conversation with him, and the two become friendly. She bewilders him but challenges him to think and feel....and read. And when he arrives home we see his wife (also played by Julie Christie, with long hair), sedated and watching the wallscreen (TV of sorts)...we see what his life is really like, although he had told Clarisse he was "happy"...he is not.

As his friendship with Clarisse grows, he starts to secretly take home, hoard, and read some of the books he finds in the course of his daily work, and as he reads, he becomes obsessed with the books. They become his mistress, and are what finally make him feel affection and warmth. And when he starts to feel and care, so do we.

The two single best scenes are a passionate one involving an old woman who refuses to leave her books, her "children" as she calls them; and the wonderful ending of the film. The countless, painful closeups of books as they are being burned are beautifully done, and difficult to watch.

Truffaut was a well-known disciple of Alfred Hitchcock's films, so when Hitchcock fired his long-time music collaborator Bernard Herrmann during the filming of "Torn Curtain", Truffaut was thrilled to acquire his talents for his own film. The score for "F451" is beautiful, and the film would not be nearly as effective without it.

Writer/producer/director Frank Darabont ("The Green Mile", "The Shawshank Redemption") is working on a new film of "Fahrenheit 451" this year. He says it won't be a remake of the original film.
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8/10
Engrossing, underrated sci-fi
moonspinner559 April 2005
From Ray Bradbury's novel about totalitarian society that has banned books and printed words in order to eliminate independent thought; Oskar Werner plays professional book-burner who becomes enraptured with stories. Possibly a bit too thin at this length, but a fascinating peek at a cold future (which the times have just about caught up to). Didn't get a warm reception from critics in its day, yet the performances by Werner and Julie Christie (in a dual role as both Werner's wife and a rebel acquaintance) are top notch. I was never a fan of director François Truffaut's too-precious stories of childhood, but this film, curiously his only English-language picture, is extremely well-directed; the sequence with the woman and her books afire is one amazing set-piece, with tight editing, incredible and precise art direction, and the camera in all the right places. Truffaut lets you feel the agony of book paper curling up black in a mass of orange flames, and the proud defiance of the woman as she herself strikes the match. Unforgettable. *** from ****
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visionary brilliance
Jonny_Numb6 January 2005
Go figure that I had the privilege of seeing "Fahrenheit 451," for free, on a big screen a few years back (an independent Illinois art house had gotten hold of what was allegedly one of the last surviving prints), and at the time hadn't the foggiest concept of how PRIVILEGED an event it was. Sitting in a theater crowded with college students on a budget with nothing better to do, I watched this diverting little retro item, appreciated its subtlety, nuance, bold visual style, and 'got' the message that if we're not careful, we'll be mindless drones having our desires dictated by The Tube (in current times, that's hardly a profound statement).

Francois Truffaut's adaptation of Ray Bradbury's novel is a bold visual feast that presents a time that might seem 'retrograde' in the eye of a modern pop-culture snob, but ultimately projects what a conceivable 'future' might look like (and not that CGI malarkey served up in "The Matrix"). Interiors of houses are awash in odd colors and give shelter to appliances that don't look dissimilar from our own; TV screens embedded in living-room walls play programs which vacuous housewives interact with sometimes. The film is so relentlessly confident in its appearance that it withstands the test of time.

Though if "Fahrenheit 451" only had its storybook style to rely on, it would fade and be filed away as a mere technical achievement. Truffaut, working from strong source material, concocts a riveting parable about ignorance and the things we, as humans, take for granted. The story follows Guy Montag, an Everyman who is employed as a fireman--a connotation which entails ransacking residences in search of books (reading and writing have been outlawed in this world) and burning them. He has a medicated-smile wife (Julie Christie), a quiet home life, and is in line for a promotion, until a neighbor (Christie again) inspires him to question his motives for working such a sordid job.

One character argues that books cause depression, making people confront unpleasant feelings. "Fahrenheit 451" sometimes runs the risk of lending truth to that statement--in some ways, it is a bleak commentary on civilization, but at the same time grounded in a benevolent humanity that offsets Orwell's brutal, pessimistic world of "1984" (though both texts and films share similar themes). This humanity is underlined in an upbeat, even comic ending (the details of which I won't divulge here).

"Fahrenheit 451" is a spellbinding work of art, in good company with other incendiary works ("A Clockwork Orange" and "Fight Club" come to mind) that have defied the constraints of time and age.
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6/10
Aren't We Already Here?
Robert J. Maxwell27 August 2010
Warning: Spoilers
Sometimes I get the feeling that, given a few more years, maybe not too many, the only difference between us and the fantasy future in this film is that the firemen of the future will loathe books, criminalize and burn them, while we just ignore them.

This bleak picture of the future is Ray Bradbury's, filmed by Francois Truffaut, scored by Bernard Hermann, and starring Oskar Werner, Julie Christie, and Cyril Cusack, with Anton Diffring in a supporting role.

The tract houses on wooded lots all look alike. Their inhabitants, including Werner's airhead wife, Christie, spend their time chatting cheerfully about how good things are, when not absorbed by Cousin Pollyanna on the telly. There are no books, of course. Books only make people think and thinking makes people sad. It might even prompt some to dissent. Dangerous things, books.

So it's illegal to own them. There is a kind of mailbox in front of the fire station where anyone can drop a note accusing his obnoxious neighbor of owning books. This activates the fire brigade, led by Cusack and crewed by the ambitious young Werner and the jealous Diffring. The firemen board their flamboyantly red engine and sip to the location of the accused, where they tear everything apart in their search for books. If the books are found, they are piled together and set alight with some kind of flame thrower.

Out of curiosity, Werner slips one of the contraband books into his tunic and takes it home. Late at night, when Christie is asleep and no one is around, he creeps into the kitchen, turns on the light, and begins reading Charles Dickens' "David Copperfield." He haltingly reads everything on the title page, including the name of the publishers in London and New York. Then he gets to the text. "Chapter One. I am born." Well, I'll tell you -- the guy is hooked. Before you know it he's got a secret library and he's reading everything he can secret away during his raids. His wife finds out, squeals on him, and leaves. Werner's last raid is on his own house but in addition to burning the pile of books on the floor he burns everything, including his boss.

On the advice of a criminal neighbor, also played by Julie Christie, he makes his escape to a group of "living books" who have carved a living out of the wilderness. They don't OWN books, so they can't be prosecuted. They ARE books. Their names correspond to the titles of the book that each has memorized. Werner is warmly accepted by the community. He would like to be "David Copperfield" but "we already have a David Copperfield," so he becomes the short stories of Edgar Allan Poe. The final scenes show us people wandering about through the snowy woods, ignoring each other, mumbling aloud the words of the texts they've memorized. Presumably they live happily ever after.

The picture rolls along effectively and spookily. The photography is fine and the acting is at a professional level, though I do wish Oskar Werner with his rosebud mouth didn't run as if he were dancing over red hot coals, gracelessly, his elbows raised like an ostrich's.

The main problem I had with the movie is that it might have made a good short story but it's a little thin for a feature-length movie.

What I mean is that we can already see that the popularity of books -- of carefully crafted reading material in general -- is in decline. Newspapers and weekly news magazines are in Cheyne-Stokes respiration. The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal are both losing readers, while the picture newspapers still glare at us from the supermarket checkout counters. (Latest headline in The Globe, as I write this, "Obama IS a Mulsim.") Another generation and they'll be historical curiosities, although we may still be able to buy broadsheets full of photos of celebrities now grown old and fat.

Books are in just as bad a shape. I know this to be a fact because nobody bought my books! Hardly made a dime. And they were just full of penetrating insights, too! (Sob.) Okay. We can accept the decline of literacy as a fait accompli, although we also have to note that among the many books we see curling up in pain in the middle of the bonfires, we don't see any works on science, technology, or math. Everything burnt is a novel or a work of philosophy -- the humanities but not the sciences. Well, that's understandable. When was the last time a quadratic equation generated sad thoughts in anyone? But this problem is never brought up in the movie. As far as the story is concerned, books are books.

Another hole in the logic is this: Before books can be loathed, they must become important in social life. No one loathes the moon or a polymerized molecule of nitrogen dioxide because who the hell cares about them? Nobody. They're irrelevant. And that's where books seem to be headed today. Not towards criminalization but towards total irrelevance. U* cnt H8 something U dnt no abt bc Ur 2 dumb.

When I was in high school we read "The Great Gatsby" in English class. Out of the hundreds of college students I've taught, there were only two who'd read "Gatsby" -- one on her own and another in an ADVANCED PLACEMENT class. Bradbury and Truffaut are on the right track, I think. Books will disappear. But not because they're illegal, but just because nobody wants them anymore.

That future is almost bleaker because it leaves us without any enemy except ourselves.
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10/10
Fahrenheit 451 -- On the Web, the Paper Does Not Have to Burn
Max A. Lebow26 February 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This film first appeared in theaters in 1966. The Vietnam War was just getting under way. The Pentagon was beefing up its disinformation campaign that was later documented in David Halberstam's book The Best and the Brightest. The film is based on a novel by Ray Bradbury, first published in 1953, when the hysterical Red Scares of McCarthyism were near their peak.

Bradbury's writing was originally published in the second issue of Galaxy Science Fiction magazine. In an interview, Bradbury claims that Fahrenheit 451 was his only work of science fiction.

That the "New Wave" director, Francois Truffaut agreed to direct the film was unusual. Bradbury was already an established writer, who probably wanted some artistic control, but Truffaut was promoting the auteur theory of film in which the director has absolute artistic control.

The friction had a couple of effects on the film. Truffaut, eager to begin filming wrote the screenplay before fully mastering English. Even Truffaut was disappointed in the end with the stiff, flat dialog. For Truffaut, Fahrenheit 451 was his first, and last, English-language film. This may have contributed to the flatness of the characters.

Some reviewers made an asset out of the stiffness by saying that the characters, deprived of serious thinking, and of books, and addled by drugs, were themselves, in fact, flat, soulless creatures.

The central character, Guy Montag, (Oskar Werner) is a "fireman." In this disturbing vision of the future, firemen burn books. Books are all but banned by the government because they have "conflicting ideas" in them. Those ideas can make people unhappy. It is the government's job to keep people happy, with drugs, large-screen television, and other entertainment.

Let's keep it positive.

The novel played on the concerns of the time when it was written. Censorship and suppression of thought, mainly through intimidation, was being exercised in the United States. The intimidation was being done by radio and newspaper columnists, who supported Senator Joe McCarthy. The book burnings by Nazis, which started in Germany in 1933 and continued until the end of World War II, were still in living memory. And the world was still reeling from the horrible pictures of the explosions of nuclear weapons on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, as well as implications of the mass production of nuclear weapons.

By the time the film appeared, America was more concerned with race riots. So, burning was a viscerally powerful theme. Lost on most viewers in 1966 was the detail that among the burned books was the film journal Cahiers du Cinema for which Truffaut wrote, and that on the magazine's cover was a picture from the film Breathless, written by Truffaut. Also among the burned books: The Martian Chronicles and Fahrenheit 451, both written by Bradbury.

SPOILER ALERT Truffaut, however, contributed much to the uniqueness of the film as a work of art separate from the book. From the opening credits, which were spoken and not displayed on the screen, to the ending, in which the exiles who have devoted their lives to memorizing books recite their books while walking blissfully in the snow, Truffaut's genius is there.

Also a stroke of genius was the casting of Julie Christie as Monag's drug-addled wife, and as the more compassionate and interested Clarisse, who seduces him into reading and thinking.

Like Brave New World, a book by Aldous Huxley, Fahrenheit 451 describes a hedonist world, where the people need not think.

If you like Fahrenheit 451, you might also like the 1956 animated film version of George Orwell's Animal Farm, now available on DVD.
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10/10
An Underrated Movie
dusted16 July 2000
Yes, the movie is slow. Yes, the sets and the costumes are very 60ish and very dated. But it has something to say.

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. There is more than a little resemblance to our society of the year 2000 and heaven knows what the future will bring.

Oskar Werner is one my favorites, so I'm very prejudiced, but I think he does an excellent job. 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. The supporting cast was good, especially the actor who played the fire chief. Julie Christie was good in the film, too, although her self-conscious woodenness or manner bothered me more than Werner's.

Perhaps something less than one of the great films. But it is a very thoughtful film with a lot to say to its audience--although some viewers choose to focus only on its rather dated veneer.
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9/10
A cautionary tale for our times
jonr-328 July 2004
My first viewing of "Fahrenheit 451" since its initial relase ca. 1966 was last night, via DVD. I highly recommend this DVD version--it includes excellent bonus material, including a moving account of composer Bernard Herrman's role in making the film.

I rated the film a "9" despite not being a big Truffaut fan; there's something about the "feel" of his movies that makes me fidgety and leaves me dissatisfied. But that same feel seems just right in this atypical piece of his--he felt he had failed to make the movie right, and he had difficulties with it that are explained in the bonus material. I think what resulted was an unsuspected and unintended success, instead.

Now more than ever in recent history, we face problems with individual liberties that are uncannily reflected in this film. Watch it as a cautionary tale, as a visually stunning experience, and as an example of some of the best film music ever composed: but watch it. I think you'll be glad you did.
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8/10
Reading Is Bad For Children And Other Living Things
bkoganbing2 January 2010
Ray Bradbury's disturbing vision of a possible future comes vividly alive in this film adaption of Fahrenheit 451. Reading for pleasure is now banned although I imagine you must have a certain degree of literacy to read food can labels and directions to operate all kinds of machinery. But read for enjoyment or for education about the world beyond the small space of earth you frequent, that's a big no-no in this future America.

Oskar Werner stars in Fahrenheit 451, he plays a fireman who have a different function in this society. Buildings and such are now fireproof so fireman have become the enforcers of the ban against books. They seek and burn books in whatever quantities they find. A good job in a police state, but not a good one if you have an inquiring mind such as Werner has.

Julie Christie plays two roles, Werner's pleasure driven wife and a schoolteacher whose unorthodox for that society's teaching methods have brought her under scrutiny. She does a good job in both characterizations.

Bradbury's themes are grounded in reality. Looking at American history it was a crime in many slave holding states to educate a slave. Let them be happy in their ignorance and they might not get ideas about a better life and won't rebel.

But this is a society that's beyond that kind of formal slavery so the answer is the old Roman one of bread&circuses. The circus in this case is television which has evolved into an interactive medium. The vast wasteland that Newton Minow characterized television as back in the day has gone beyond anything Minow was having visions about. Entertainment has really dumbed down and the circuses aren't too far from what used to entertain the Romans.

In the supporting cast you will remember Cyril Cusack as the fire brigade captain who functions as the spokesman for this new world and Bee Duffring as the book lady who martyrs herself for knowledge in an unforgettable scene.

The ending is not Bradbury's, but one written by director Francois Truffaut. It is very much however in the spirit of the novel and a tribute to mankind's unquenchable thirst for knowledge. Don't miss Fahrenheit 451 when broadcast.
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8/10
Reading is fundamental
BumpyRide21 July 2004
After reading several whinny comments about how the movie is so different from the book I just had to add my two cents. Hello people! These are two different mediums here, like comparing Katherine Hepburn to Audrey Hepburn. They are two different entities which stand alone on their own merits.

I read the book years and years ago, and frankly, I don't remember much about it. I'd seen the movie in years past, and it never knocked my socks off. But upon viewing it last night, I have to say I found myself thoroughly engrossed in it. The scene in the monorail where all the passengers are trying to stimulate themselves through their sense of touch is quite moving. As is the neighbor who declares, "They aren't like us, are they?"

It's never going to be a movie in which you want to see over and over again (like the fluffy Wizard of Oz, again a book that is totally different from the movie, where are the complaining people now?) but it's a movie that should be seen. I also wonder how many people will complain when the new version comes out? I can hear them now, "The first movie was so much better!"
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10/10
The Books Are Alive
Claudio Carvalho17 December 2005
In a future totalitarian and oppressive society, where books are forbidden, Guy Montag (Oskar Werner) is a fireman. The mission of firemen in this society with fireproof houses is to burn books at 451o F, the temperature of combustion of paper. Montag is married with Linda (Julie Christie), a futile woman that joins "The Family" through the interactive television. When Montag meets Clarisse (Julie Christie, in a double role), she questions him if he has never read a book, and Montag become curious. He decides to steal and read a book, twisting his view of life.

François Truffault is one of my favorite directors, and his unique English-spoken film "Fahrenheit 451" is a masterpiece and one of my favorite movies ever. The first time I saw this movie, I was a teenager and I was very impressed with such clever story about this fascinating oppressive society. The visionary Ray Bradbury frightens the viewers with this dramatic sci-fi, not far from the reality in many parts of the world almost forty years later. The awesome Julie Christie, as usual, and Oskar Werner from "Jules et Jim", have magnificent performances. The optimistic conclusion closes this adaptation with golden-key. My vote is ten.

Title (Brazil): It is a shame, but this movie has not been released on video or DVD in Brazil. Many years ago, a cable and a broadcast television presented "Fahrenheit 451", but this masterpiece was forgotten by the Brazilian distributors. The unique alternative for Brazilian movie lovers that speak English is to buy the American DVD.
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10/10
yes, there is something wrong between Montag and the poll...
chimeira27 July 2001
Montag, with the help of the beautiful neighbor, had just started reading novels and the poll at the fire department he worked for refused to take him up. Because the poll accepts only those who obey with the law: Burn any book you find. Books are enemies, books are bad, books may cause suffering, distraction, chaos, disorder, rebel...Books make people anti-social. They'd better watch TV (numbing and dumbing interactive shows mostly). So, some time in the future, the government bans any kind of reading, and firemen are from that moment in charge of putting fire on the books, not putting fire out.

So what are the consequences? People lose identity: they are similar to each other with nothing to distinguish oneself from the other, they live in their unreal and artificially happy(!) little worlds, alienated and detached from one another, they lack love and passion, they lack emotion...they rub their cheeks against the fur of their coats continuously, feeding their need for love probably...they have very short memories, they take sedatives daily to keep their emotions under control... This is the reason for all this. They think humanly emotions are the main sources for humanly suffering and unhappiness. So, to avoid this, they ban books which have proved to wake emotions, to convey the most intriguing, challenging feelings to people. TV is harmless, of course without much complexities. After all, TV can change people, too, so they keep it simple, allowing for people to become as robotic and as cold and as dumb as possible. So that their memory together with their intelligence (especially emotional intelligence) is disabled. Memories make people unhappy, too. The wife does not even remember when she first met Montag...

And on the other hand, there are the ''book-people''. Each is a book him/herself, having memorized his/her whole book verse by verse, trying to survive illegally in the woods. They are so few, and so sad...

Truffaut's cinematography is immensely good. Especially in the first half of the movie there are great shots. Reverse movements, cleverly used close-ups, jumps, great editing...The decoration is kept as simple and cold as possible, with straight lines dominating, pale colors and all are well in line with the theme. And of course the credits with words and no writing -that was perfect! Also, as the credits were being told, the focuses on the TV antennas on the roofs of the houses were very cleverly done.

A 10/10 for me. I watched each moment of the film, amazed.
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6/10
Totally a low-budget 1960s period piece, fun and a little creepy, but mostly fun
secondtake16 June 2010
Fahrenheit 451 (1966)

Directed by a legendary director (Francois Truffaut) and featuring one of the scorching female stars of the time (Julie Christie) and based on a imaginative book by a great American fantabulist (Ray Bradbury) there really has to be something amazing here. And there is, at times, between the cracks.

But in fact, Truffaut and his wry, human touch might just be wrong for a futurist film dripping with old school nostalgia (both). Christie is a good, plastic presence, actually, so that's a good choice. And Bradbury may have liked the adaptation but I've read the book and it has some kind of flow and subtlety that the movie misses.

There are interesting stylistic comparisons with The Prisoner television series (a semi-nostalgic, futurist cult favorite of its own), which came the next year. Both the movie the t.v. show make great use of small budgets, which is partly where the slightly creaky, slightly endearing, slightly cheesy qualities come in. So what you really end up with, overall, is the story, or even better, the germ of the story--that books are so dangerous to the big brother authorities, they are outlawed.

It's a brilliant premise, and the movie is fun, for sure, and interesting. I remember being moved by it (really disturbed) as a teenager, and maybe that's where it resides best. I've tried reading Bradbury as an adult and have some trouble with the emphasis on idea over elegance or depth of character. In fact, as you can see in this movie, there is no depth of character at all. Or, to go an obvious step further, everyone's character is subsumed by something greater, either by choice or by force.

This might be the bigger point, implicit throughout, that we are always something lesser than the requirements of life and death around us.
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Interesting futuristic tale with a clever concept
BernardoLima28 December 2009
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...Fahrenheit 451 is a bizarre but also very interesting film. This futuristic tale is obviously about individuality and freedom and it draws some interesting parallels to our society; if you think about it, the film was made in 66, only 21 years after the World War II where too, there was intellectual repression and manipulation trough the media. Visually, the film looks a bit dated, of course, but at the same time, it does look incredibly futuristic and at the time it came out, it must have made an even bigger visual impact. The sets, the props, and the costumes are all amazing and very well done. I don't think I'll ever forget the image of the firefighters in their black sleek uniforms running around in their futuristic red truck. The main character, Oscar Montag was nicely played by Oskar Werner but the films belongs to the insanely beautiful Julie Christie who played the roles of Montag's wife, and school teacher Clarissa. Not only is she gorgeous but she is a delight to watch. Fahrenheit 451 is odd, but it's definitely an interesting film and the concept is quite clever. It deserves to be seen for its originality.

7/10
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7/10
Interesting Premise But Flawed
Theo Robertson15 October 2003
Warning: Spoilers
A society where books are banned ! It's not a fantasy . Consider the likes of Nazi Germany , Stalin's Russia , Mao's China etc , but the flaw with FAHRENHEIT 451 lies in the idea that not certain books are banned but ALL books are banned . Think about that for a moment then ask yourself this question : How would a society be able to function under this law ? We're shown schools still exist but how do pupils learn without being able to read text , and if people can not read text then how will they be able to write ? It seems impossible that a society would still be able to function without books

That flaw is down entirely to Ray Bradbury's source material but Francois Truffaut's adaptation of Bradbury's novel is very uneven in every way . Take the cast for example , Oskar Werner seems very miscast while Anton Differing is once again very type cast as a fascist ( Differing's last ever role was in an episode of DOCTOR WHO where he played a Nazi war criminal ! ) , but Cyril Cusack gives a very good performance as the fire chief . Traffaut also shows his new wave roots by casting Julie Christie - Quite unnecessarily - in two different roles . And talking of new wave this is the movie that's best remembered as having the title sequence whose credits come via a voice over as the camera zooms in on a montage of TV receivers , and watch out for the scene where it looks like we're going to be treated to a split scan sequence then for some reason we're not . To give the director credit though his visage of the near future is very recognisable unlike many directors at the time who seemed to think we'd be living in space cities by the end of the 20th century

**** MILD SPOILER ****

Perhaps FAHRENHEIT 451 can be summed up by its ending . It's touching and sad and feels very European ( And watch out for the injoke ) but once again there's flaws with the idea of the book people . Just how much information can the average human being assimilate ? Even more importantly - How would a human being be able to keep that information in their head for the rest of their lives ? I doubt if I'd be able to remember this review word for word this time next week

Despite the many flaws I did enjoy this film for the most part and I'm someone upset that Hollywood feels the need to do another version of Bradbury's novel even though the remake is being made by the director of THE SHAWSHANK REDEMPTION . No doubt we'll be treated to scenes of Stephen King books being torched
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9/10
A must see movie - fantastic vision!
ceenemaa16 June 2005
What an amazing film. I've heard of it for a long time, but only just had the opportunity to see it. The story is based on Ray Bradbury's novel of the same name and has been cleverly adapted to film. There are a lot of clever visual clues in this film, and it stands a couple of watches - just to make sure that you pick them all up! Apparently it is Truffaut's first venture into colour film, and this yields quite interesting results, at times quite colourful. If you are expecting a Sci-Fi film - set in a space-like future, with astounding special effects - you will be disappointed, it's not that sort of film. This is a film where a possible set of scenarios - and 'what-ifs' are put forward, and explored by the filmmaker. It is believable and at times makes you think, 'What if this were true?', I fully recommend this film, a great watch.
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10/10
The Beauty of Books
nycritic13 April 2006
Warning: Spoilers
A world without books, controlled by a totalitarian regime that wants you to get education from what They consider to be permissible. Could this happen? Of course it could; it's happening already at a global scale, as it always has. During the Red Scare for example, our country was immersed in the irrational fear of even knowing someone who sympathized with people who sympathized with Communists and once interrogated, many careers went right down the tubes. In many Latin-American countries, most notably Chile, Venezuela, Cuba, and Dominican Republic, et. al., censorship was the only mode of ruling over a population. Books and songs that were considered "too informative" and quasi-subversive were eliminated, the writer or artist forced to either live in exile or tortured in elaborate schemes to get him or her to 1.) divulge who he or she knew who had leads to the opposition, and 2.) to punish his or her temerity, making an example of what happens to those who transgress against those in power. Germany during the Second World War was known for burning books and unless your name is Mel Gibson, the Holocaust did happen. Until recently, China imposed censorship on certain songs from major pop artists because they were deemed "inappropriate". And on and on it goes.

The influence of censorship and a society living under hedonistic ignorance cannot be taken for granted: we're there already, in a subtle form of 1984, the sister story of FAHRENHEIT 451. So much surveillance is imposed on us -- where we go (physically or on the Internet), what television or movies do we see, what music do we listen to, our bank transactions, our purchases, our private conversations, even the question that every employer -- not just governmental -- asks its prospective employee: "Do you or have you ever been affiliated with an organization that has designs to overthrow the American government?" Science fiction has become science fact in more ways than one. Television, once considered a media for education, is certainly that, but more often than not, an object that numbs the mind and taints the spirit with banalities. Programs deemed "too risky" are yanked off the air in lieu of a "more accessible" program. Most recently, former governor Giuliani attacked a painting that depicted the Virgin Mary and was made with elephant dung -- laughable, but a reality. The Government decides, via cute commercials, what prescription drugs and feel-good pills we can use. People have stopped the actual act of writing and e-books are the new thing. We see televised broadcasts of criminals under pursuit and deem this "entertainment". News reports, once reliable, are no more so -- one only has to go back a year to see the CBS scandal. We now have become a nation of extreme (but fake) politeness that enforces an explicit political correctness that hinders actual thoughts even when such thoughts may be offensive.

FAHRENHEIT 451 is a film that anyone with conscious thought should see more than once because it exposes all these dark aspects of our own society as seen through a window into the future. The most potent imagery that comes to mind and stays with me is the one of the elderly librarian who has amassed a huge collection of books of all kinds: classics, controversial, historical -- even Mad magazine. Books are information even when they are little more than cute romance novels and easy potboilers, but they exist, thus, they must inform and reflect a person's thoughts. I can't imagine anyone who wouldn't commit the act of self-immolation like she does when confronted with the ultimate betrayal -- that of the people designed to protect her. Seeing her light the match that is allowed to fall on top of a heap of books, seeing her look at Guy Montag (Oskar Werner) in ecstatic triumph and extend her arms outward as the flames engulf her entire body, I can't imagine not going out in any other way. Her battle has ended in victory -- there are things worse than dying, and it's her death that has Guy realize the horror of totalitarianism and turn his back on his own life, even at the risk of becoming a fugitive, as he ultimately does.

Truffaut and Bradbury, unlike Orwell, shed a light of hope in FAHRENHEIT 451. It's a stoke of genius and a moment of immense beauty -- the one when Guy, now considered dead by the society he once served, meets up with a society of Book People who have been waiting for his arrival. These are people who do what their prehistoric ancestors did: preserve culture, word, by word, and this ensure the future. At a spiritual level, these are enlightened souls who are under preparation for when the time comes to take over the deadened society Guy has left behind. Seeing them introduce themselves, not with their names but the tomes they have become, is remarkable and reflects the lengths to which Man will go to ensure his own self-preservation. FAHRENHEIT 451 is moving on multiple levels, and the dual role Julie Christie plays (Mildred, Guy's wife, and Clarisse, the woman who is the catalyst for his awakening) is casting genius. We see her, a walking, talking Barbie doll at first, and later as the woman she should have been had she rebelled against the drugs and the hedonism imposed on her. One of Truffaut's finest films, and one of the essentials.
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8/10
Francois Truffaut's minimalistic and odd take on the classic novel
MartinHafer12 July 2006
Warning: Spoilers
This film has a very "odd" feel to it when you watch it--thanks in part to the unusual and minimalistic sets and special effects as well as the use of an all-European cast. When I first read the novel by Ray Bradbury, I hadn't envisioned Montag and his crew as English-speaking German actors and while this seems a tad strange, it does work. But, this along with Oskar Werner's strangely subdued performance make this a unique film. However, the oddest casting of all was Julie Christie as BOTH Montag's vacuous wife AND his eventual mistress who helps him run away from his job as a fireman.

Now in this film, the job of a fireman is VERY different from today's. Instead of putting out fires, the firemen in the movie are agents of the government whose job it is to enforce a total ban on all books by burning them! The logic, we are told, is that books "give people all kinds of silly ideas and lead to arguments and wars". And, the people being mostly idiotic sheep like Montag's wife, they blindly accept this. However, after a while, Montag begins to wonder and think for himself....a VERY dangerous thing indeed!! What happens next and the very bizarre final scenes in the film are really best left for you to discover yourself. I really liked the movie and book, though, because they have so much to say about society and freedom--something that helps this sci-fi story to transcend the medium and provide a wonderful metaphor for modern life.
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7/10
Fantastic Film -- Dated, But Still Well Done
gavin69427 June 2012
In an oppressive future, a fireman (Oskar Werner) whose duty is to destroy all books begins to question his task.

I am torn on this film. While it is an excellent movie, very artistic, and a great adaptation, it also suffers some serious flaws. So while I would say it is quite good, it still could be improved upon in a remake (something I rarely endorse).

First and foremost, the English is choppy. It was not written by an English speaker, and it shows. Add to this that the main actor has a heavy Austrian accent, and it may be hard to follow for some viewers.

Next, the film seems dated. It has "hippie" elements that are not necessary, and it seems to take place in a similar future as "A Clockwork Orange". I think in the hands of another director (Christopher Nolan or David Fincher), it could be a much darker world and play even better to audiences.

I would like to see more of a transition. I was not convinced in Montag's shift -- it seems sudden and the acts that bring it on are just hard to believe. I also would not mind better back story. How did we get to a world where reading is not valued? (If if no one reads, how do characters even know how to read?) Excellent film? Yes. Flawless film? No.
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7/10
The Power of the Written Word
BaronBl00d28 July 2005
Perhaps one of the greatest science fiction writers of all time is Ray Bradbury. He was able to look at so many different fantastical things from so many different fantastical angles. Many credit his novel Fahrenheit 451 has his greatest work. It is a book that depicts a future where learning is oppressed and conformity is expected. Government rules with no one ever questioning it. The masses are swayed by what the government wants them to see through television and pills. This adaptation of Bradbury's novel by French auteur Francois Truffault is effective in retaining the heart of Bradbury's work. Oskar Werner plays Guy Montag, a fireman who burns books rather than puts fires out. He is an expert in his field. He can find all the neat, out-of-the-way places people hide their books like in toasters or behind TV picture tubes. Books are outlawed as seen as corrupting forces in society. Only picture books are allowed. Montag goes on with his mundane life with his wife who is always watching television. The status of one is determined by how many TVs you have in the house. Montag doesn't like TV and has an undeniable quench for something more. Anyway, he meets a neighbor like him in spirit and soon decides to start reading. I loved this film because its message is so very clear today and so scary as we live in a society very different from Montag's yet not so far away. TV dominates our lives to some degree. Most of our news comes from it. Much of our bias comes from it. It is definitely a defining instrument in our lives whether or not we wish to admit it. Reading some argue is in a massive decline and our standards as a society certainly have much lower expectations as to what people should know. If you doubt this, just look at a show from the 1960s(even a show like Bewitched or Gilligan's Island) and compare the vocabulary to something made for a similarly aged viewing audience. We dumb down everything. Anyway enough sermonizing, Farenheit 451 will get your mind thinking. Truffault creates plenty of suspense and a wonderfully eerie new future. His use of color in particular really impressed me. It is of course the 60s, but he makes his world look very different. The acting is very good. Werner gives a more than competent performance as a man troubled with a life he finds to be false. Julie Christie excels playing BOTH Werner's wife and the neighbor girl that inspires him to find the true self. I also enjoyed a rare turn by crusty Cyril Cusak! This is indeed an underrated science fiction film and more importantly a film that should be explored as we move closer and closer to that society it showcases. Fortunately for all of us here, we understand the power, the joy, the fulfillment that reading and writing bring us each day. One last note(or two): this was Truffault's first film in English(may be his only one?) and the ending was wonderfully done!
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3/10
Almost Nearly Unfaithful and doesn't get the whole entire point of the book.
michaelhirakida2 November 2014
Warning: Spoilers
I haven't read the book in a while so I will try to make my best of it. Sorry If I make mistakes.

This is possibly the most unfaithful adaptation of a book ever. The director does not get the point of the Dystopian world and it really begs the question why the film was made.

For those who don't know this classic plot, books are illegal in this world. Guy Montag who is a firefighter who burns books gets curious and starts to read books which makes everything go wrong and in the end war breaks out and Guy and other outcasts try to rebuild society. Or so what I remember.

The movie is totally different. I'm not going just say I didn't like this because they changed this without giving reason, I am going to give you reasons on why I didn't like the changes.

The book was set in the future and it was clear that it was a dystopia. The present is used in this version which makes it look way too modern for an adaptation of a book set in the future.

Oscar Werner's Guy Montag is nothing more than just wrong. Tons of things he says and does are excluded from this adaptation such as bursting out in front of his wife's friends after reading a excerpt from a book. The reason this was important was to show that guy was becoming erratic to others around him. When he reads in this version, he just stands there being scolded like a child without doing anything.

Oh and the outbreak of war and destruction at the end? Not shown. They just don't show it. Why not?! This is a powerful image in the whole book and it ends with a bang! I don't care if they used stock footage of atom bombs, it would be perfect!

They only got very few things right like The woman burning herself with all the books in front of her which makes for a very memorable image. But overall this is just a mess.

This is director Francois Truffaut (The 400 Blows) first English film and I severely doubt he had even read the novel and just heard a basic synopsis without the details.

Just please read the book. Don't support this film it is a huge mess.

36/100 D+
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6/10
Read the book
hall8951 May 2012
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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7/10
Solid With A Great Look For 1966
Kyle Hodgdon9 December 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I did not read the book prior to viewing this film, however I did know the general plot of it. I was pretty sure that I would like this movie, and I really did. It was pretty solid. I don't think it is great by any means, but it is quite good.

After watching this I realized that it was made in 1966. Wow. I had no idea. It really looks like something made much later than that. I am impressed at the work that the crew did to make it look as good as it did.

I can't help but to compare it to 1984, which is one of my favorite books. I did not like the story as well as 1984, but I guess they do differ quite a bit.

I was not all that impressed with the ending though. It felt a little corny to me. It's hard for me to really explain, but it just felt silly. And did that one person really memorize all of Plato's "Republic"? That must have been a tough task.
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7/10
Dystopian film set in a futuristic and totalitarian society where are banned the books
ma-cortes28 August 2011
This is a thought-provoking and poignant story happens in an oppressive and odd far world , a strange and terrifyingly mechanised society . It describes future Earth civilization with television a universal father-figure poring out messages , there a fireman whose duty is to destroy all books begins to question his task . This is the best adaptation of a Ray Bradbury book to hit the big screen , furthermore quite faithful to the tone of the story. It deals with a fire fighter named Montag ( Oscar Werner ) works in the line of duty as responsible for the destruction of materials , but he begins to question about the necessity of his job . Guy Montag is a veteran fireman who is much respected by his superiors (Cyril Cusack) from fire department and is in line for a promotion . Montag doesn't wonder what he does or why he does it until he deals with Clarisse ( Julie Christie in double role also as Montag's wife ). As his doubts enhance , he starts to rob some books he is about to burn . But a work's companion named Fabian (Anton Driffing) suspects about his hidden activity .

It's an intriguing type of story with Science-Fiction leanings and stretching rather far for some of the plot points . This cerebral picture is full of cinematic and literary references as Charles Dickens-David Copperfield- , Robert Stevenson , James Joyce and many others . The interesting story , generally slow-moving , mingles the genres of Dystopian science fiction and suspense film . It contains an intelligent and surprising ending , Truffaut's own invention , with the rebels wandering in idyllic exile by the edge of a glittering icy lake . Although set far in the future , there are no great special effects or elaborate sets ; despite , the movie was filmed in real locations by prestigious cameraman Nicolas Roeg , subsequently filmmaker , in Danebury Avenue, Roehampton, London, England, UK (opening sequence, block of flats) ,Linkway, Edgcumbe Park, Crowthorne, Berkshire, England, UK(Montagu's bungalow)Black Park, Iver Heath, Buckinghamshire, England, (Monorail),Fortismere Secondary School, Maidenhead, Berkshire, England, UK and Loiret, France , though most scenes were shot in Pinewood Studios . It is colorfully photographed in bright and gleaming red . Suspenseful and thrilling musical score by the classic Bernard Herrmann , Alfred Hitchcock's usual . The flick is stunningly directed by Francois Truffaut , in his fist English-language movie treating the subject of literature and tyranny with a intelligence and dignity not found in other films . This is one of the best of his suspense movies along with ¨ La Sirene du Missisipi ¨ and ¨Shoot the piano player¨. Rating : Very good , above average and well worth watching .

L
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