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Fahrenheit 451 (1966)

Director:
Francois Truffaut
COUNTRY
UK
GENRE
Drama/Fantasy
NORWEGIAN TITLE
Fahrenheit 451
RUNNING TIME
112 minutes
Producer:
Lewis M. Allen
Screenwriter (based on a novel by Ray Bradbury):
Francois Truffaut
Jean-Louis Richard


Cast includes:

CHARACTER ACTOR/ACTRESS RATING
Guy Mortag Oskar Werner
Clarisse / Linda Montag Julie Christie
The Captain Cyril Cusack
Fabian Anton Diffring

 

Review

The idea, from Ray Bradbury's novel, is a dystopian society in the not too distant future in which books are prohibited and written material is kept at a minimum. The apathetic population is entertained by watching poorly scripted interactive tv-plays on their futuristic flat panel wall display in their 1960s furnished livingrooms. The concept might have felt imminent in post-WWII years with Nazi censorship bright in mind, but as realized by director Francois Truffaut, in his one and only English language film, it just feels irrelevant and constructed. When fireman (read: bookburner) Guy Montag (Oskar Werner) meets his vivacious neighbour Clarisse (Julie Christie), her questions about how it was true that there once was a time in which books were allowed feel absurd and improbable, giving the premise a soft and puerile core.

The problem with Truffaut's vision here is the incongruity between the inanity of the people and the somewhat unconvincing totalitarian system in which a small force of people who act and feel like firemen supposedly are able to keep an entire unhappy population sedated by burning their books. Firstly, the power of the people is underestimated, and secondly, Truffaut's visiualization becomes giddy and unfocused, making the dramaturgy almost inane. Oskar Werner, our sensible protagonist, runs around feeling more confused than threatened or suppressed, and as he eventually finds refuge in what must have been the most virtuous and correct hippie camp of the 1960s, we realize that Fahrenheit 451, such as it is, is not a film that has aged well.

Copyright 14.11.2008 Fredrik Gunerius Fevang

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