The upcoming film Fahrenheit 451 is planned for release this spring, and HBO just released the first trailer. In it, we see a copy of Crime and Punishment, as well as several other “controversial” novels, being set ablaze by a fireman, presumably the film’s protagonist Guy Montag.
The movie is based on the classic 1953 Ray Bradbury novel, and it’s set in an alternate future where history is obliterated and mass media is an opiate. The film stars Michael B. Jordan and Michael Shannon, and is directed by Ramin Bahrani. “I have always loved Ray Bradbury’s prophetic novel Fahrenheit 451,” Bahrani said in a press release. “Two years ago, as I looked at the world around me, it seemed like the ideal time to do a modern interpretation.”
Today’s media climate seemed especially relevant, Bahrani told a panel at the Television Critics Association. “Politically things are going in a very strange direction in terms of what is real and what is not real,” he said. “I think we’ve been going in that direction for a long time, it’s just now kind of being revealed to us more clearly.”
After being exposed to “forbidden” literature, Montag begins to question his occupation and eventually joins a resistance group that memorizes entire books to keep them alive until society can once again accept its contributions.
The film was shot on location in Toronto, and also stars Sofia Boutella as Clarise, an informant caught in the middle, and Lilly Singh as Raven, a tabloid reporter who supports the book-burning propaganda.
Named after the temperature at which paper burns, the novel was developed out of a series of short stories Bradbury wrote in the ‘40s. Written when most people didn’t have televisions, or only tiny black-and-white screens, Bradbury envisioned a future where TVs were “walls” and actors were “families.”
Late in his life, Bradbury contended that his novel was not about government censorship, as many believe, but about how television could destroy literature. “Useless. They stuff you with so much useless information, you feel full,” he told LA Weekly in a 2007 interview. “I would worry about people being turned into morons by TV.”
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