Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451 is a book made for the movies, yet Francois Truffaut failed it. Intellectual science fiction isn’t the French New Wave director’s milieu, of course, so maybe the project was doomed from the start. Even so, the movie is awkward, stilted and sabotaged by Oskar Werner’s bizarre lead performance (Julie Christie, in a dual role, simply seems dazed). The reliance on mod fashion and Brutalist architecture to evoke the future, meanwhile, meant the film was dated upon release (the firehouse resembles nothing more than Adam West’s Batcave). It’s funny, but also tragic. Bradbury’s 1954 vision of a totalitarian society where technology is worshipped and books are burned – a vision that becomes truer with each flat-screen TV and iPod we invent – has been neutered and consigned to camp.
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