A very good adaptation of Ray Bradbury's famous book. Oskar Werner is great as Montag and Cyril Cusak is perfect as the avuncular yet threatening Captain Beatty; while Julie Christie does a good job as Montag's pill-popping, mindless wife, her casting and performance as Clarisse is a weak spot in the film. Although the threat of nuclear war is not needed nor included in the film, the mechanical hound would have been nice to include in the movie.
All in all, a very good movie though. The plot moves along nicely, the acting is outstanding, and the movie stays very true to the theme of the book. This was François Truffaut's only English-language movie although he had worked with Oskar Werner previously in "Jules and Jim". Highly recommended!
on June 13, 2015
This film is truly one of Francois Truffaut's masterpieces. And may have changed the form of 'science fiction movies' long before Kubrick's '2001: A Space Odyssey'. So subtle, yet so bang on with much of it's forecasting a modern future. It holds up as well today as it did some 50 years ago. To me, good 'science fiction movies' aren't so much about the special effects and high tech designs and language. But more so in it's thought provoking predictions of what humanity may develop and/or encounter - or banish and obliterate FTM. And this movie expertly shows the obedience and coping with laws and pacification's doing more harm than good. And especially in this age of 'political correctness', this movie (and book) should be taught and aired as much as possible. Wonderfully shot, acted, and stylized. And Julie Christie doing such a 'ying-yang' dual performance deserves extra credit. And the bonus material only strengthens the value of this film when Bradbury discusses the inspiration for the story, the shape it may have taken movie wise, and efficiency and complexities Truffaut dealt with in the undertaking. A timeless classic that may serve better in film than in print. Cosmic irony, or a step in the wrong direction? May it stay forever 'as is'.
on April 28, 2015
An interesting take on Ray Bradbury's book. Montag in the movie is fair instead of dark (like in the book) and the fireman have an almost Nazi look to them (how they dress and move). In the book, they are sooty with five o 'clock shadow and they are brawny, big men. Not so in the movie. There is an apple theme (apple standing for knowledge) in the movie. We see one of the book owners (one of the criminals) eating an apple as he flees and then when the firemen break into his house, a fireman bites into an apple to have Montag knock it out of his hand (the fireman then spits out the piece of apple). Actors play several characters (which is interesting). Montag's wife and Clarisse are played by the same actress and the school mistress and one of Montag's male co-workers is played by the same actor (which is a bit humourous). I like this Montag even better than the Montag in the book; he is more human to me, with a sense of humour and a charm (it's probably the actor). The book Montag came across as more bumbling and awkward (no offense). I felt very sorry for the book Montag, who seemed like a more broken man who was mustering up the courage to challenge his warped society. The movie Montag does this too but he has more confidence. Also the age of the woman Clarisse is different; in the book she is 17 and in the movie she is an adult (in her 20's) and a school teacher. There is a romantic possibility between Montag and Clarisse in the movie which is, well, romantic!
This film has failed to attract the attention and appreciation which I think it deserves. Directed by Francois Truffaut and based on Ray Bradbury's novel, it co-stars Oskar Werner (Guy Montag) and Julie Christie in two roles (Linda and Clarisse). The cinematography provided by Nicolas Roeg is superb. The title specifies the temperature at which paper will burn in a totalitarian society in which books are systematically incinerated by "firemen" whose single purpose is to eliminate anything which encourages and nourishes freedom of thought. Montag is one of them, a Fire Captain. Over time, his loyalties become divided between a love of literature and an obligation to destroy it. Hence the dual role for Christie: Clarisse McClelland is a neighbor and book lover to whom Montag is attracted (in several different ways) whereas Linda is committed to feeding the bonfires with as many books as can be located.
Why do books pose such a serious threat? In the novel, Fire Captain Beatty explains it this way. "Give the people contests they win by remembering the words to more popular songs.... Don't give them slippery stuff like philosophy or sociology to tie things up with. That way lies melancholy." In other words, entertain people with mindless television programming, thereby to isolate them from any ideas which could raise doubts about the oppressive system. The quality of acting is consistently outstanding throughout the cast. The film is generally faithful to Bradbury's novel, taking certain liberties here and there but preserving the atmospherics of menace, fear, and (worst of all) submission. The heroes and heroines are those who meet in secret, sharing passages which they have memorized from great books. So long as that process continues, "dangerous ideas" will be kept alive.
on February 2, 2004
As I read over some of the reviews from those who found grave fault with this wonderful science fiction classic, I cannot help but see the irony in how the theme and message of this story ~ decline of human potential, insight, perception and intelligence, and the inevitable individual/socital disconnect from emotion due to limitation of the full spectrum of human communication ~ is lost on so many people today, who ironically have every right and capacity to read and communicate as they please...or, closer to the truth, at the level their culture has more or less "instructed" and conditioned them to.
It's no coincidence that, just as the characters in this story are blind to their own repression, many people in these times would be unable or unwilling to acknoweldge that chosen, self imposed limitation.
People who have been raised in a culture that doesn't promote and encourage reading(beyond what is deemed necessary), that doesn't encourage a broad range of views(mass media primarily espousing one all encompassing view via "wall screens")and is comprised of people who have been intellectually malnourished by huge doses of insipid tv programs and empty, high-gloss FX movies, will yes, in all likelihood, find Farenheit 451 to be "too slow" and "boring".
However, there is lyrical beauty and black humor in this prophetic tale for those who have the eye and heart to recognize it. It's the story of man's awakening to his own repression and the subsequent struggle to break free from a counterfeit, by-the-numbers existence, and a manifold love story as well; Montag meeting the young woman who sparks the buried flame, and the love of ever expanding consciousness, imagination and inherent knowledge of self.
Is it merely man's 'ability' or is it an actual 'need' to record and even create himself through the translation of thought-into-written word? "I have to catch up with the remembrance of the past".."there is a person behind each one of these books, and that's what interests me", Montag tells his TV-brainwashed wife. He knows she is beyond reach, but senses new hope within himself, and new romance with his book-stashing neighbor.
Isn't it, afterall, the possibility of new found love(of life)that inspires and compells him to overcome his repression?
For those who prefer their science fiction grounded in the questioning and dilemma of the human condition and existence, this unconventional love story is quite rewarding.
on January 2, 2004
Fahrenheit 451 is based on Ray Bradbury's novel with the same name, which sends a chilling message to the audience. Most civilizations have fallen and have often been followed by a dark age. This story takes place sometime in the future when one civilization is in the middle of its dark age and where the written word is banned in all forms. These laws are being carried out by the fire department that has a reversed role in society compared to our present time fire departments. Its main function is to find and burn books at all costs. Meanwhile, people are being kept happy through pills and interactive TV among other things. On one occasion, a neighbor asks the main character, Montag (Oscar Werner), if he has ever read any of the books before he burned them. This question plants a seed of curiosity within Montag and he is about to break the law through reading. This then leads to the rebirth of Montag. Fahrenheit 451 is a superb story that offers many excerpts from written pieces delicately handled in the film, which enhances the atmosphere of the story. Moreover, there are several lessons to be learned from the film. These lessons come from dialogue, cinematography, directing, and the mise-en-scene, which leaves the audience with a terrific science fiction experience.
on December 29, 2003
Fahrenheit 451 takes place in the not-too-distant future where books are completely forbidden. Based on the novel by Ray Bradbury, Fahrenheit 451 is about choice. Each choice made by the characters could destroy society.
We first see a man who hears sirens. And during the sirens, the phone rings and a woman's voice tells him to get out of his apartment and to run far, far away. He does and when we explore his apartment we discover the cause of this man's trouble: books. Everywhere there is a hiding place, there is a book. A team of "firemen" (note: they aren't called "fire fighters" becuase in the future, fires are started by them and the idea of fighting a fire is absurd.) take all the books to the parking lot and burn them. Their badges say "Fahrenheit 451" becuase that is the tempature used to burn books. We focus on a man: Montag. He and his wife live "happily" in their home next to his "friend" Clarisse (both women are played by Julie Christie). One day, Clarisse asks him if he had ever read the books he's burned. Simply put: no. But that strikes an interest in him. He takes a book: David Copperfield and starts to read it. His wife and friends worry and one of them begins to cry after he reads a passage. Her reason: she doesn't like those feelings anymore. It appears that books offend and dehumanize rather than bring goodness and brilliance into the world. In order to make everyone happy they burn books so no one feels sad and people don't become shut-ins because what they read is so facinating. When Montag's secret comes out, he becomes a fugitive and must make a decision: give up books or his life.
Fahrenheit 451 is a classic that everyone should read (ironically, it was a novel) and see. (If you didn't see this version, don't worry: a remake is due in 2004/2005) The idea that no one could read the printed word is surprisingly realistic in the sense that readers are treated as common outlaws. The film makes sense and uses the fact that no one can read to it's advantage: the opening credits are read aloud instead of written out. Cartoons have no captions and life has no meaning.
RECCOMENDED TO FANS OF:
Ninteen Eighty Four (1984)
The Running Man (1987)
Oskar Werner...Guy Montag
Julie Christie.....Clarisse/Linda Montag
Cyril Cusack......The Captain
THE MOVIE: 4/4
THE PICTURE QUALITY: 8/10. 1.85:1 Anamorphic widescreen. Clean except for some scenes (the opening scenes for example) where there are some noticable specs and dirt. Other than that, it's A-OK.
THE AUDIO QUALITY: 5.5/10. This is where the disc looses credit. Presented in 2.0 Mono, it was extreamly hard to hear so I found myself turning the audio all the way up then being startled when I switch from dvd to vcr because the volume is so loud.
THE SPECIAL FEATURES:
-The Novel: A Discussion with Author Ray Bradbury featurette
-The Making of Fahrenheit 541 featurette
-Commentary with Julie Christie
-The Music of Fahrenheit 541 featurette
-Original opening sequence
SUBTITLES: English, Spanish and French
on March 8, 2003
I do not understand people who knock this film. It is enjoyable for both those who have read the book and those who haven't.
One of the good signs of a movie adaptation is if it follows the "spirit" of the film. Screenwriting should be simply ripping the pages out of the book, and stuffing them in the camera. It does not have to be exact, or have all the same events. It should capture the spirit and ideas of the book. I think this movie does it with flying colours.
Although the acting is stiff, that is what Truffaut wanted. To make it seem removed and lifeless, like what the world would be without books. It becomes kind of unnerving, and disturbing. Which is the idea. Although there are parts of the book missing, this movie catches the spirit of the film. Although there are a couple of problems with the film i.e. "How can Montag be able to read when there are no printed words", but that problem is in the book too...
For those who care, this movie contains footage of the SAFEGE monorail test track, which no longer exists. It was a revolutionary style of monorail, the most important feature being the escape ladder, which is used prominently in the movie.
I think this is a wonderful adaptation of a wonderful book. F451 is probably my favorite book. It is thought provoking and makes you want to read the book, which is another sign of a good movie. Finally, Ray Bradbury himself liked this adaptation of this book, which should at least merit a watch of this movie. This is worthy of 5 stars.
This review is for those (like me) who haven't read the book. There, now we can talk about just the movie. Oskar Werner stars as Montag, an unhappy man living in a monotonous futuristic society. Books are illegal, Big Brother-style screens are on every wall, emotions are out, and people take drugs to endure their bleak lives. Montag is a fireman whose job it is to find hidden books, burn them, and arrest the owners. One day he becomes curious about these books and sneaks a copy of David Copperfield home. His spaced-out wife (Julie Christie) turns him in to the authorities and he must run for his life. He runs to a free-thinker (also played by Christie) who is a book-lover.
Oskar Werner is wonderful as the sensitive, confused fireman who longs to really connect with people, ideas, and feelings. Christie shines in two very different roles: the glamorous but bored housewife and the brave ex-teacher who dares to read books. The music contributes to the intense and dangerous mood of this film. Its view of the future is frightening and sad, where paranoia the norm; but the ending is quite hopeful and touching. I recommend this movie to those who have not read the book; you are free to enjoy it without comparing it to the novel. The script, actors, and direction are all excellent.
on November 2, 2001
Truffaut delivers an amazing film. The stilted dialogue and artificial manner of the actors, often criticized, actually contributes to the vision of a future society in which all intellectual reflection and creativity has been supressed and stifled. I have heard it said that Werner wanted to play the character of Montag as a fascist, whereas Truffaut wanted Montag to have a more vulnerable appearance. Truffaut seems to have got his way, and it works remarkably well. The scene in which Montag picks his way, word by word, through the opening lines of Dicken's 'David Copperfield' is truly moving. Similarly, other citizens of this synthetic state reveal their vulnerability at various points as they struggle to express their suppressed humanity (eg. the commuters touching themselves on the train; Linda's friend fighting to hold back her tears as Montag 'cruelly' recites from a novel).
This is a film that warns of the dangers of living in a cultural and historical vacuum. To quote Goethe: 'He who refuses to draw on three thousand years of history is living from hand to mouth.' The world Truffaut (in turn inspired by Ray Bradbury's novella) envisages, is a world in which the present is unconnected to anything else. Houses have always been fireproof, remarks Montag. It has always been the duty of firemen to start fires (in order to burn books), never to put them out. It is a poor world, where the dullest and most lacklustre conversation is lapped up by the masses as entertainment (the cousin's play). I know many people who live hand to mouth like that, to borrow Goethe's metaphor. Truffaut's warning is for them.
Sets and effects are generally rather lame, though they are compensated for by Bernard Herrmann's excellent (as usual) score. There are myriad memorable sequences in which the music combines brilliantly with Roeg's photography to great effect (Montag and Linda's love scene; the final 'book people' scene). Truffaut's love of literature and culture is evident at every point, and a knowledge of his other films will demonstrate why he found Bradbury's book such enticing material.