Fahrenheit 451 (film)

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What if you had no right to read?

Fahrenheit 451 is a 1966 British dystopian science fiction film about a dystopian future in that a fireman must destroy all books and begins to question his task.

Directed by François Truffaut. Screenplay by François Truffaut, Jean-Louis Richard, and based on the novel of the same name by Ray Bradbury.
A flame with the excitement and emotions of tomorrow! (taglines)

Guy Montag[edit]

“Fahrenheit four-five-one is the temperature at which book paper catches fire and starts to burn”.
  • Fahrenheit four-five-one is the temperature at which book paper catches fire and starts to burn.
    • Book paper actually combusts at 450 degrees celsius, but Ray Bradbury (the author of the book this movie was based upon) thought fahrenheit sounded more powerful. Book paper catches fire at 842 degrees fahrenheit.
  • [to Linda] You spend your whole life in front of that family wall. These books are my family. When did we first meet? And where?

Dialogue[edit]

How did it come about? What made it begin? What made you want to do – How could someone like you be doing this kind of work? I know everyone says that, but you! You're not like them. When I say something to you, you look at me. Why did you choose this job? For you it doesn't seem to make any sense.
The Captain: What does Montag do with his day off duty?
Guy Montag: Not very much, sir. Mow the lawn.
The Captain: And what if the law forbids that?
Guy Montag: Just watch it grow, sir.

Guy Montag: Hasn't this uncle of yours ever warned you never to speak to strangers?
Clarisse: No. He did say once if anyone asked how old I was to say I was 20 and light in the head. They always go together.
Guy Montag: Light in the head?
Clarisse: Mm-hmm. Loopy. Crazy. Anyway, you don't frighten me.
Montag: Why should I?
Clarisse: No reason really. The uniform, I suppose.

Clarisse: Is it true that a long time ago, firemen used to put out fires and not burn books?
Guy Montag: Really, your uncle is right, you are light in the head. Put fires out? Who told you that?
Clarisse: Oh, I don't know. Someone. But is it true did it?
Montag: Oh, what a strange idea. Houses have always been fireproof.
Clarisse: Ours isn't
Guy Montag: Well, then, it should be condemned one of these days. It has to be destroyed, and you will have to move to a house that is fireproof.

Clarisse: You don't like the books then?
Guy Montag: Do you like the rain?
Clarisse: Yes, I adore it.

Linda Montag: Did you see that? Cousin Claudette's got a bouffant tonight.
Guy Montag: Who?
Linda Montag: Cousin Claudette.
Guy Montag: Who is Cousin Claudette?
Linda Montag: The cousin announcer, the one you don't like.
Guy Montag: I don't like any of them.

Guy Montag: Well then it wasn't the analyst. It was the staff that wanted to get rid of you because you are different. Look at that fellow over there.
Clarisse: What's he doing?
Guy Montag: That's the information box. He can't make up his mind.
Clarisse: What's he want to find out?
Guy Montag: He doesn't want to find out anything. He knows someone who has books. So he got hold of the person's picture and number, and is going to drop it into that box.
Clarisse: But he's an informer!
Guy Montag: No, he's an informant. Look at him. Like someone circling around a woman.
Clarisse: He's putting something in his mouth.
Guy Montag: It's a stimulant to work up his nerve.

Clarisse: Why?
Guy Montag: What?
Clarisse: How did it come about? What made it begin? What made you want to do – How could someone like you be doing this kind of work? I know everyone says that, but you! You're not like them. When I say something to you, you look at me. Why did you choose this job? For you it doesn't seem to make any sense.

Guy Montag: Do you remember what you asked me the other day? If I ever read the books I burn? Remember?
Clarisse: Uh-huh.
Guy Montag: Last night I read one.

About Fahrenheit 451 (film)[edit]

IF François Truffaut were trying to make literature seem dull and the whole hideous practice of book-burning seem no more shocking than putting a blow-torch to a pile of leaves, he could not have accomplished his purpose much better than he unintentionally has in his first motion picture made in English, "Fahrenheit 451." ~ Bosley Crowther
Francois Truffaut’s Fahrenheit 451 (Universal) isn’t a very good movie but the idea—which is rather dumb but in a way brilliant—has an almost irresistible appeal: people want to see it and then want to talk about how it should have been worked out. Fahrenheit 451 is more interesting in the talking-over afterward than in the seeing. ~ Pauline Kael
  • IF François Truffaut were trying to make literature seem dull and the whole hideous practice of book-burning seem no more shocking than putting a blow-torch to a pile of leaves, he could not have accomplished his purpose much better than he unintentionally has in his first motion picture made in English, "Fahrenheit 451."Holy smoke! What a pretentious and pedantic production he has made of Ray Bradbury's futuristic story of a fireman in a hypothetical state where all reading matter is forbidden and the fire department's job is to police the citizens who try to keep books in hiding!
  • A woman who bravely reads books is more likely to be socially constructive than one who is hung on TV. And the contrast arranged by Mr. Truffaut—a homely bookworm versus a beauteous TV fan—is a suitable one for illustrating the austerity of dedication to books.But it makes for pretty dreary entertainment when you have to sit there and watch a frozen-faced Mr. Werner piously turn away from a long-haired, voluptuous Julie Christie and go marching off down the railway tracks in quest of the bleak, bobbed-haired Miss Christie who has gone to the land where the book-people are.
  • But it's hard to believe that Mr. Truffaut could be guilty of such poor taste. Poor writing, yes, and dull direction, but certainly not poor taste! He wouldn't dare put into a picture intended to be a joke a scene so ugly and currently evocative as one of a captured book-lover setting herself afire.Nor would be allow a subtle put-on to be so ponderous and humorless.No, it strikes me that Mr. Truffaut simply got himself tangled up with an idea that called for slashing satire of a sort beyond his grasp, and with language he couldn't fashion into lively and witty dialogue.
  • Francois Truffaut’s Fahrenheit 451 (Universal) isn’t a very good movie but the idea—which is rather dumb but in a way brilliant—has an almost irresistible appeal: people want to see it and then want to talk about how it should have been worked out. Fahrenheit 451 is more interesting in the talking-over afterward than in the seeing.
  • Most books don’t make people think, and print is not in itself a danger to totalitarianism. That is a crotchety little librarian’s view of books. Print is as neutral as the television screen. And so we’re back from the primitive appeal of the gimmick to the Orwell vision of censorship and terror. And yet such is the power of the gimmick that I swear I heard people in the theatre murmur at the astuteness of that nonsensical explanation for book-burning. You’d think they’d never read a book, they’re so willing to treat books as magical objects. And that is, of course, how the movie treats them: the gimmick turns books—any books—into totems, and this is part of the gimmick’s appeal to educated audiences, and it’s probably a stronger appeal than a more rational treatment of the dangers of censorship could make.
  • Yet even at the science-fiction horror-story level, the movie fails—partly, I think, because Truffaut is too much of an artist to exploit the vulgar possibilities in the material. He doesn’t give us pace and suspense and pious sentiments followed by noisy climaxes; he is too tasteful to do what a hack director might have done. Can’t you visualize the scene when the hero, Oskar Werner, reads his first book, David Copperfield as it might have been done at Warner’s or MGM in the thirties, how his face would light up and change with the exaltation of the experience the triumph of man’s liberation from darkness? Well, ludicrous as it would have been, it might have been better than what Truffaut does with it—which is nothing. Truffaut is so cautious not to be obvious, the scene isn’t dramatized at all, and so we’re left to figure out for ourselves that Werner must have enjoyed the reading experience because he goes on with it. Soon we’re left to figure out for ourselves why he has gotten so addicted to books that he’s willing to kill for them. It would, no doubt, be obvious to have an adulterous romance between Werner and the girl who goads him to read, but Truffaut doesn’t supply any relationship to help define their characters, And if he feels that too much characterization is wrong for the genre, couldn’t he at least give them actions that would define their roles in the story? Yes, it would be too much of a familiar movie cliché to have Julie Christie play the two roles of the wife and the book girl in sharply contrasting styles, but he makes nothing out of her being so much the same in both roles. And it hardly helps us to see what books mean in human life if her range of expressiveness is as narrow for the book girl as for the bookless pill-head wife. The book girl’s language is just as drab and she doesn’t show any of the curiosity or imagination that might indicate that books had done something for her. Couldn’t she have something alive and responsive about her that would help us to understand why Werner reacts to her suggestion that he read a book? And shouldn’t he have something that sets him apart, that makes him a candidate for heresy? The movie certainly needs somebody in it who has some life. And if the reply to this is that in this movie the books represent the life that is not in the people, then surely it is even more necessary to see that the book people have life. And shouldn’t they speak differently from the others, shouldn’t they take more pleasure in language? Couldn’t they give themselves away by the words they use—the love of the richness of words? It’s all very well for the director not to want to be obvious, but then he’d better be subtle. He can’t just abdicate as if he thought it would be too vulgar to push things one way or another.
  • The movie is so listless we have what we should never have in a gimmicky thriller: time to notice inconsistencies. People know how to read; why are they taught? Why are the book people hiding libraries in town instead of smuggling them to the woods? (Do they have a secret lending library?) Why are we shown the hero revealing his guilt to his co-workers (in scenes like his inability to go up the fire-pole) if it doesn’t lead to any consequences? Why are we shown an antagonism between Werner and another fireman (Anton Diffring) which never develops into anything functional in the structure? Why is it so easy to escape to the woods? Couldn’t Truffaut or anyone think up a better contrivance to bring the book girl back than the need to retrieve an incriminating list of names (of people who memorize books!)? The actions in this movie don’t flow from the theme; O.K. we can accept that if, at least, they’re ingenious. But they’re not. Still, all the holes in the plot would just make it seem lacy and airy if the movie had rhythm, if it moved purposefully, if the moods surprised us or intrigued us. Why doesn’t it?

Taglines[edit]

  • A flame with the excitement and emotions of tomorrow!
  • What if you had no right to read?

Cast[edit]

External links[edit]

Wikipedia
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