I enjoyed and appreciated the HBO movie version of Fahrenheit 451 as a standalone minor dystopian future Syfy experience, but as an adaptation of Ray Bradbury‘s short novel this full length feature it is not nearly as complex or essential. Too overly concerned with Blade Runner-esque future world building, all of which is impressive, and not concerned enough with the deep psychological scars inflicted upon the human mind when denied access to thought, culture and our histories (civilization’s and most egregiously our own personal memories). The movie works as a minor episode of Black Mirror, I particularly liked the emoji infused texts of the Bible and Moby Dick, and the skyscraper “Parlor Walls”, and I did like that it may pique the interest of younger viewers in actual, physical books with word counts that dwarf the top 10 lists and headlines that make up the bulk of their contemporary reading, but its emotional impact and resonance feels hollow and abridged, exactly what Bradbury felt the ascendancy of filmed entertainment was doing to our civilizational soul.This message has been edited. Last edited by: Charlie Mount,
I thought it completely missed the point of the novel. I didn't like it at all.
The language set me off, too. That's also one of the main things RB griped about with regards to the Mel Gibson script from years ago. I would often visit him and we’d talk about this “coming soon” version the studio had optioned for Mr Gibson. He said he read so far into it, got disgusted, and then just closed the script and set it aside.
The scene where they went to burn the old lady's books was classic. They got that just right. There wasn't much else that worked for me.
Why is this the second film version of the story to leave out Professor Faber, an integral part of the story?! Why don't they get it?!
The language riled me, too. As a director and actor Ray’s dialogue has always presented a problem for me in that it is not dramatic — it’s lyrical, it’s narrative, it’s prose, but it’s not dramatic. The drama comes from embracing the style and letting the cumulative power of the language work. You have to approach a Bradbury work like Shakespeare and find the cadence, the meter, the tone, and go with it, no matter how “unrealistic” it might seem — Adapters don’t trust that by embracing his language you create a heightened reality, a universe to play in. But, no, they always have to “fix” it.
One of Ray's Pandemonium Theater actors put it very succinctly, "They left Ray's soul on the cutting room floor."
John King Tarpinian
You know what you are, Mr. Bradbury? ... You are a poet! -- Aldous Huxley
Just so, Mr Mount. It can be a challenge to adapt RB (unless the writer, like you, gets it). Very few have worked, in my opinion. The few (TV or film) that have been successful have been:
The Alfred Hitchcock Hour: The Jar (1962)
The Twilight Zone: The Burning Man (1985)
The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit (1998)
Something Wicked This Way Comes (1982)
All Summer in a Day (1982)
American Playhouse: Any Friend of Nicholas Nickleby Is a Friend of Mine (1982)
The Electric Grandmother (1982)
Nineteen eighty-two was a good year for Bradbury adaptations!
Most of the plays have worked very well, particularly Falling Upward!, The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit, and Fahrenheit 451 (2008).
When I saw the Alfred Hitchcock Hour version of "The Life Work of Juan Diaz" for the first time just a few years ago I was extremely impressed! One of the best I'd ever seen!
Yes - that, too. I just forgot to put it in.
I haven't had a chance to see the HBO Fahrenheit, but I like what Charlie Mount had to say about Ray's dialogue and "embracing the style". Rod Serling once said (I quote imperfectly from memory) "Ray's dialogue reads beautifully, but doesn't sound right in the actor's mouth." It's an interesting observation (also ironic, considering that Serling himself wrote a lot of unlikely, long-winded speeches for his actors), but I think in this instance, Rod underestimated what actors are capable of. The marvelous way Johnathan Pryce handled his lines in the library scene of Something Wicked comes to mind. The right actor can pull off Bradbury. While not a Bradbury story, True Grit comes to mind as an example of a film with stylized dialogue that worked.This message has been edited. Last edited by: skmckee,
Remembering Mr B on this 6th anniversary of his transitioning.
“Everyone must leave something behind when he dies, my grandfather said. A child or a book or a painting or a house or a wall built or a pair of shoes made. Or a garden planted. Something your hand touched some way so your soul has somewhere to go when you die, and when people look at that tree or that flower you planted, you're there.”
When I watched it, that's exactly what I said - did they read the book?!
This discussion leaves me disappointed but alas not at all surprised.
I love Falling Upward. I produced it for Ray many years at Theatre West with the great Pat Harrington, Jr. in the lead. Our director cast several Irish singers and musicians to play bar denizens and it was all gorgeous to hear and watch. I think it's his strongest play. http://www.theatrewest.org/fallingupward.html
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