Monday, June 29, 2009

Fahrenheit 451. A

The greatness of 'Fahrenheit 451' does not lie within the its deep themes of the terrifying future existence of man because those can already be found in Ray Bradbury's classic novel of the same name. Rather, '451' is a classic because of its beautifully subtle performances, and the visionary, haunted world it creates, that, as the years go by, may be looking more and more like the one we live in now. In case you aren't familiar with the story, the gist of it is this: it's the future, and man has decided to destroy all books because they bad ideas into peoples' minds. With houses fireproof, firemen are now used to go around and burn books. Guy Montag (Oskar Werner) is one of them, and he loves his job up until he meets a young woman named Clarisse (Julie Christie, in a dual performance-she also plays Guy's wife, Linda) who tells him of a world when people used to read books. She asks him if he ever reads the books he burns, and he answers 'no.' But it puts the idea into his head, and one day he keeps a book, reads, it, and discovers that what he is doing for a living is wrong. In this world, not only has man eliminated the idea of books, but he also lives a life of moral ambiguity. This is showcased tragically in a scene where the firemen burn a woman along with her books because she refuses to let her library go. The director of '451' is Francois Truffaut, a personal favorite of mine. The visionary world is brilliantly crafted, especially considering the film was made way back in 1966. Consider the way Traffaut sets up the scenes with the fire trucks speeding around. He puts in ominous music and shoots them from a distance, making the trucks seem rightfully villainous. As I said, the performances are wonderful, particularly Christie as Clarisse and Linda. There are differences between the film and the book, such as the absence of the professor in the movie, but to me, the film remains every bit as classic as the novel. Finally, one of the best features of the film occurs right at the beginning. Instead of using titles for the credits, we get a voice over, which many, including myself, believe is used to set up the themes of the story in which there are no words to read.

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