Fahrenheit 451

1966

Fahrenheit 451 (1966)

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Critic Consensus: Fahrenheit 451 is an intriguing film that suffuses Truffaut's trademark wit and black humor with the intelligence and morality of Ray Bradbury's novel.

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Movie Info

Based on the famous book by Ray Bradbury, this film portrays a future society where books and reading are forbidden and "firemen" are charged with the responsibility of setting and maintaining fires at the 451 degrees necessary to burn paper. One of the most adept of these firemen, Montag (Oskar Werner), decides to keep a book for himself, and in doing so, finds himself torn between the desire to adhere to his orders and the urge to defy the controlling government and join the opposing underground society. Directed by Francois Truffaut, this was his first color film, and his first film done in the English-language.

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Cast

Oskar Werner
as Guy Montag
Julie Christie
as Clarisse/Linda Montag
Cyril Cusack
as The Captain
Ann Bell
as Doris
Anna Palk
as Jackie
Jeremy Spenser
as Man with the Apple
Bee Duffell
as Book Woman
Gillian Lewis
as TV Announcer
Roma Milne
as Clarisse's Neighbor
Alex Scott
as 'The Life of Henri Brulard'
Denis Gilmore
as 'The Martian Chronicles'
Michael Balfour
as Machiavelli's 'Prince'
Judith Drynan
as Plato's 'Dialogues'
David Glover
as 'The Pickwick Papers'
Yvonne Blake
as 'The Jewish Question'
John Rae
as 'The Weir of Hermiston'
Gillian Aldam
as Judoka Woman
Arthur Cox
as Male Nurse
Eric Mason
as Male Nurse
Noel Davis
as TV Announcer
Donald Pickering
as TV announcer
Edward Kaye
as Judoka Man
Mark Lester
as Schoolboy #2
Kevin R. Elder
as Schoolboy #1
Joan Francis
as Telephonist
Tom Watson
as Instructor Sergeant
Fred Cox
as Pride
Earl Younger
as Nephew of 'The Weir of Hermiston'
Frank Cox
as Prejudice
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Critic Reviews for Fahrenheit 451

All Critics (34) | Top Critics (5)

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.

Aug 30, 2012 | Full Review…

This 1966 film often looks good (it was Truffaut's first in color, photographed by Nicolas Roeg), but the ideas, such as they are, get lost in the meandering narrative.

Jun 5, 2007 | Full Review…

With a serious and even terrifying theme, this excursion into science fiction has been thoughtfully directed by Francois Truffaut and there is adequate evidence of light touches to bring welcome and needed relief to a sombre and scarifying subject.

Jun 5, 2007 | Full Review…
Variety
Top Critic

An underrated film, perhaps because it is less science fiction than a tale of 'once upon a time.'

Jan 26, 2006 | Full Review…
Time Out
Top Critic

Holy smoke! What a pretentious and pedantic production he has made.

May 20, 2003 | Rating: 2/5 | Full Review…

Truffaut brought more cinematic acumen to this minute-long sequence than many filmmakers deploy in an entire feature.

Nov 29, 2018 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Fahrenheit 451

½

Transposed to the screen by Truffaut and with an evoking score by Bernard Herrmann, Bradbury's terrifying vision of a future is a brilliant allegory that remains intelligent and pertinent even today, when books may not be destroyed but are scorned by people.

Carlos Magalhães
Carlos Magalhães

Super Reviewer

½

More like a jazz riff on the source material than a note by note translation, Traffaut's version actually adds interesting layers not intended by Bradbury. It's always cool to see how the past imagined the future and this imagination is well layered. For instance all the houses have TV antennas. Its a important feature of Traffaut's vision --- and its wrong technically. Nobody back then saw WIFI coming. On the other hand wall-sized flat screens are a right on the money prediction. On the whole the film is an uneven affair, and Werner's presence is disconcerting, yet as sci-fi it totally works. Its not just about burning books. Its about controlling the masses.

Kevin M. Williams
Kevin M. Williams

Super Reviewer

½

I'm coming to love Truffaut, but even my second time through this film - the first time was Grade 10 English class, after the book was assigned - I found it really boring, nowhere near as intriguing as the novel. Full marks for the production design and the source material, but definitely not the director's best work... far from it.

Daniel Perry
Daniel Perry

Super Reviewer

What has always impressed me about Bradbury's classic is his commitment to post-Enlightenment ideals. This film and Bradbury's novel obviously condemn book-burning. And the film lingers on the burning pages with an almost-overwrought, almost-melodramatic pathos. But it also shows Mein Kampf about to be torched. What Bradbury says is that in accordance with post-Enlightenment philosophy, when people are allowed free access to ideas, invariably the good ideas rise to the top and the bad ones fall. It is only after we trust in the goodness of human perception that we can see the burning of Hilter's work as tragic as the burning of Twain. What I've written so far is only about the source material because that's the only part of this film I liked. We never get to see Montag's journey; he goes from book-burner to reader in the matter of a quick night and a quicker conversation. I normally don't care about set design, but this is a shallow, half-hearted attempt at creating a Stepford Wives future, and we needed a greater commitment to this idea if Truffaut wanted to feature the design so prominently. Finally, I was remarkable unimpressed by Oskar Werner. His command of English was a stark contrast to all the characters around him, and he remained stolid, emotionless, and ineffective throughout most of the film's action. Overall, read the book; don't see the film.

Jim Hunter
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

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