In 1966, French director François Truffaut made his English-language debut with “Fahrenheit 451,” a dystopian thriller based on Ray Bradbury‘s novel about a man tasked with destroying literature. While the film was received only moderately well by audiences at the time — the New York Times referred to Truffaut’s film as both “dully fashioned and dully played” — its status has been elevated as the novel itself has entered the science-fiction canon. And with media literacy, intellectualism, and populism in the news seemingly every other day, Bradbury’s novel was probably overdue for a revisit from some ambitious Hollywood studio.
Or cable network. Yesterday, The Hollywood Reporter announced that HBO would be moving forward with its own production of “Fahrenheit 451.” The film will be both directed and co-written by Ramin Bahrani (“99 Homes“), but perhaps more intriguing to audiences, it will also star Michael Shannon and Michael B. Jordan. Shannon has worked with both HBO and Bahrani before, making him a smart fit for this film, but it’s a bit of a surprise to see the idiosyncratic actor tackling an HBO film with all the upcoming projects currently on his plate. Jordan, meanwhile, is a bonafide movie star. Bringing him into the fold is a huge coup for HBO.
While the THR article indicates that an actual production date has not been set, the excitement among fans of Bradbury’s novel — or fans of dystopian literature and films in general — was immediately spiked. Here’s hoping that HBO can manage a quick turnaround on this one; we could use a movie that highlights the dangers of non-critical thinking.
Here’s the plot synopsis of Bradbury’s original novel for those of you who haven’t read it since high school:
Guy Montag is a fireman. In his world, where television rules and literature is on the brink of extinction, firemen start fires rather than put them out. His job is to destroy the most illegal of commodities, the printed book, along with the houses in which they are hidden. Montag never questions the destruction and ruin his actions produce, returning each day to his bland life and wife, Mildred, who spends all day with her television “family.” But then he meets an eccentric young neighbor, Clarisse, who introduces him to a past where people didn’t live in fear and to a present where one sees the world through the ideas in books instead of the mindless chatter of television. When Mildred attempts suicide and Clarisse suddenly disappears, Montag begins to question everything he has ever known. He starts hiding books in his home, and when his pilfering is discovered, the fireman has to run for his life.
Yep, sounds about right.