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Fahrenheit 451

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Will's Guide to the Universe


Remembering a Scifi Masterpiece

This discussion with Ray Bradbury about his self described "dime novel" Fahrenheit 451 says a great deal, not only about the legendary author himself, but also what spurred him to write what may be one of the most important and influential science fiction tales of the 20th century.

The English language film adaptation of Fahrenheit 451 by celebrated French director François Truffaut is of course the main focus of this Will's Action Figure Universe tribute page.  Although the special effects, typical of most films prior to the release of 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) and the original Star Wars (1977), are nothing to brag about, the performances by Oskar Werner, Julie Christie, Cyril Cusack and Anton Diffring are exceptional, if a bit understated.

The book burning Fireman (Anton Diffring, Cyril Cusack & Oskar Werner) of Bradury's dystopian future

Be that as it may, Fahrenheit 451 is still very much a personal classic Scifi favorite.  For surely, the performances are nothing less than spot on, as well as more than appropriate to the subject matter.  In particular, it's a delight to see wonderfully charismatic European actors the likes of Werner and Diffring playing something besides the usual stereotyped Nazi roles that were a mainstay of the film industry in those days.

Oskar Werner shines as the conflicted Montag, despite frequent clashes with director Truffaut

Julie Christie is especially impressive in the film, positively beaming her usual brand of effortless stunning in the duo role as both pivotal female characters Clarisse and Linda Montag.  Her being cast as both characters has of course been oft criticized (and even by Bradbury himself), but it adds a fantastic sense of the surreal to the picture that might not otherwise be present.

Fireman Montag at home with his wife Linda

Cyril Cusack, in his nagging, authorative monotone, is also surprisingly effective as the infamous Captain Beatty, leader of the Firemen, who supervises the burning of outlawed books.  He and Christie's English dialog is obviously more easily understood than the film's title character, but I personally find it a delight to both watch and listen to Oskar Werner in the lead role.

Cyril Cusack is Captain Beatty, a man convinced that books are subversive and must be destroyed

Naturally, were the film to be remade today, almost all the visual aspects of the story would almost certainly get summarily pimped.  Probably way out of proportion, of course, just to sell tickets.  Yet the fact that almost every aspect of the story is portrayed with the customary nuances that one expects from any good Truffaut film, is what arguably helps this wonderful classic truly stand the test of time.

In the future depicted in Fahrenheit 451, books are outlawed & burned wherever they are found

Fahrenheit 451 and all related characters, marks and images are © Copyright
of the respective owners & no unfair use is intended

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