Thursday, November 20, 2008

Ray Bradbury

The great science-fiction author Ray Bradbury appears on TCM tonight as the monthly Guest Programmer, selecting four of his favorite movies and discussing with Robert Osborne why he considers them among his favorites. For the record, Bradbury's selections are:

The Phantom of the Opera, at 8:00 PM;
The Lon Chaney version of The Hunchback of Notre Dame, at 9:45 PM;
Alfred Hitchcock's Rebecca, at 11:45 PM; and
Citizen Kane, at 2:00 AM ET overnight.

However, I'd like to mention a different movie; the film adaptation of Bradbury's novel Fahrenheit 451. The story, of course, is well-known; an oppressive society of the future has banned books, with "firemen" burning any books discovered. Oskar Werner plays one such fireman, dutifully burning books until he meets a book owner with whom he falls in love (Julie Christie).

The thing I love about the movie is the 1960s style. Sure, the movie is set in the future, but as with all movies set in the future, they can't help but look like the time in which they were made. Things to watch out for in Fahrenheit 451 that came straight out of 1966 would include the hairstyles (obviously), the streetlights, the design of the fire trucks, and that god-awful monorail. If anything, however, the swinging 60s kitsch doesn't detract from this movie, instead giving it more of a timeless look. Fahrenheit 451 deals fairly directly with censorship, and depending on your political point of view, you can either think that the outgoing Bush administration was stifling dissent, of the incoming Obama administration will bring back the "fairness doctrine" and destroy talk radio.

The other interesting thing about the movie is that it was directed by François Truffaut, the only time Truffaut directed an English-language movie. It's available on DVD as well, since TCM aren't showing it any time soon.

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