Fahrenheit 451 (1966)
Lewis M. Allen
Screenwriter (based on a novel by Ray Bradbury):
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 living-rooms. 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 visualization 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.