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Monday, March 11, 2024

When François Truffaut Made a Movie Adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 (1966)


The professional­tag­o­nist of Ray Brad­bury’s Fahren­heit 451 is a “hearth­man” tasked with incin­er­at­ing what few books stay in a domes­tic-screen-dom­i­nat­ed future soci­ety pressured into illit­er­a­cy. Late in life, Ray Brad­bury declared that he wrote the nov­el as a result of he was “wor­ried about peo­ple being was morons by TV.” This tinges with a cer­tain irony giv­en that the lat­est adap­ta­tion was made for HBO (2018). That undertaking, which one crit­ic likened it to “a Glax­o­SmithK­line professional­duc­tion of Aldous Huxley’s Courageous New World,” will prob­a­bly not be the final Fahren­heit 451 film. Nor was it the primary: that title goes to the one Nou­velle Imprecise auteur François Truf­faut’s movie direct­ed in 1966, although many depend that as a dubi­ous hon­or.

A con­tem­po­rary assessment in Time magazine­a­zine mem­o­rably known as Truf­faut’s Fahren­heit 451 a “bizarre­ly homosexual lit­tle pic­ture that assails with each hor­ror and humor all types of tyran­ny over the thoughts of man,” albeit one which “sturdy­ly sup­ports the large­ly held sus­pi­cion that Julie Christie can­not actu­al­ly act.”

Truf­faut daring­ly forged Christie in a twin position, as each professional­tag­o­nist Ray Mon­tag’s TV-and-pill-addict­ed spouse and the younger insurgent who even­tu­al­ly lures him over to the pro-book lib­er­a­tion transfer­ment. Although some view­ers see it because the pic­ture’s deadly flaw, Scott Tobias, writ­ing at The Dis­resolve, calls it a “mas­ter­stroke” that ren­ders the close to­ly iden­ti­cal char­ac­ters “the summary rep­re­sen­ta­tives of con­for­mi­ty and non-con­for­mi­ty they’d all the time been within the ebook.”


It’s simple to imag­ine what attraction the supply mate­r­i­al would have held for Truf­faut, probably the most lit­er­ary-mind­ed chief of the French New Wave; recall the shrine to Balzac stored by younger Antoine Doinel in Truf­faut’s auto­bi­o­graph­i­cal debut The 400 Blows. By the point he went to work on Fahren­heit 451, his sixth fea­ture, he’d change into what the Amer­i­can behind-the-scenes path­er on the prime of the publish calls an “inter­na­tion­al­ly well-known French direc­tor.” However this time, cir­cum­stances con­spired in opposition to him: his increas­ing­ly frac­tious rela­tion­ship with Jules and Jim star Oskar Wern­er did the lat­ter’s per­for­mance as Mon­tag no favors, and the mon­ey hav­ing come from the U.Ok. pressured him to work in Eng­lish, a lan­guage of which he had scant com­mand on the time.


Truf­faut him­self enu­mer­ates these and oth­er dif­fi­cul­ties in a professional­duc­tion diary pub­lished over sev­er­al problems with Cahiers du Ciné­ma (start­ning with num­ber 175). But close to­ly six a long time lat­er, his trou­bled inter­pre­ta­tion of Fahren­heit 451 nonetheless fas­ci­nates. New York­er crit­ic Richard Brody calls it “considered one of Truffaut’s wildest movies, a chilly­ly flam­boy­ant out­pour­ing of visu­al inven­tion within the ser­vice of lit­er­ary pas­sion and artis­tic mem­o­ry in addition to a repu­di­a­tion of a world of uni­type con­ve­nience and com­fort­ready con­for­mi­ty.” In the present day we might received­der why the paraso­cial rela­tion­ship Mon­tag’s spouse anx­ious­ly foremost­tains along with her tele­vi­sion, which will need to have appeared fan­tas­ti­cal within the mid-six­ties, feels dis­com­match­ing­ly famil­iar — and the way lengthy will probably be earlier than Fahren­heit 451 will get re-adapt­ed as a binge-ready pres­tige TV dra­ma.

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