Review: Fahrenheit 451

As the film explains, Fahrenheit 451 is the temperature in which book paper burns, and this 1960s film (based off the book by Ray Bradbury) tells of a near future where books are outlawed and destroyed.

In this future, fire fighters no longer put out fires, “Firemen” are now a zealous law enforcement department “451”, given the whereabouts of books by anonymous public tips, and raid the target houses, instantly burning the books they find. The film follows a fireman who meets a young teacher, and is inspired to read one of the books and question the ethics society has adopted.

While the film has dated in places, there is still an eerie, unsettling mood throughout; it feels dreamlike, more than Lucas’ THX because of its near-future settings, you can imagine this sort of society forming over the next twenty years. It is a restricted, simplified lifestyle where television controls all forms of entertainment. One of the most stinging scenes involves our hero’s wife playing an interactive television programme (as if Xbox Kinect and Facebook combined forces) and later she and her friends are described as being “zombies, not living but just killing time”.

Some of the concepts involved are questionable, there’s an unsettling medical procedure (stressing society’s dependence upon coloured pills) midway through the film  that is virtually glanced over, and “fireproof housing” is not fully explained as we clearly see a lot of wood paneling.

But, ignoring some 60s trappings, I found this film remarkably arresting, mostly as an eerily accurate vision of the future.

Additional Marshmallows: The opening credits are spoken rather than written on the screen – in keeping with the story.


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