Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB.
United Kingdom, 1966. Anglo Enterprises, Vineyard Film Ltd.. Screenplay by Francois Truffaut, Jean-Louis Richard, based on the novel by Ray Bradbury. Cinematography by Nicolas Roeg. Produced by Lewis M. Allen. Music by Bernard Herrmann. Production Design by Syd Cain. Costume Design by Tony Walton. Film Editing by Thom Noble.
In a frightfully cold, futuristic society, books are burned by the government because they only give people ideas and make them long for things they cannot have. Now that houses have been made fully fireproof, firemen are no longer needed to put out fires but to start them: they pile any books they find and burn them at a degree of 451 Fahrenheit, the temperature at which book paper burns. Oskar Werner plays a fireman who doubts his job when he starts reading the books he is confiscating from criminals and they inspire him to look for more in life. Julie Christie is terrific in a double role, one as Werner’s emotionally bankrupt wife and another as a book-loving freedom fighter who befriends him. Francois Truffaut made his English-language debut with this film, and his direction has a stark, terrifying quality that makes the setting totally believable. With a cinematography style reminiscent of the work of Yasujiro Ozu’s colour films, Truffaut shows a society devoid of inspiration or creativity and the inability to dream. Based on the Ray Bradbury novel, it gets everything right, from the solid screenplay to the very effective performances.