johnlink ranks FAHRENHEIT 451 (1966)

This is a film which had popped up on TCM, which has proved quite the source for older, uninterrupted, unedited films utilizing very good prints. If TCM ever came up with an HD channel, I may never leave the house. As it is, the prints are clean, and the older films aren’t hurt by not being watched in HD (digital cable is more akin to watching a DVD) as would a new movie.

I watched FAHRENHEIT 451 (1966) on 7.18.10. It was my first viewing of the film. TRAILER HERE

There are a couple of revelations in this film, though neither would exactly be considered a revelation for a cinefile. One is the direction of the great French filmmaker Francois Truffaut, the other is the acting of Julie Christie.

Fahrenheit 451 is Truffaut’s first color film, and it is also his only English language film. His use of color, here, is stunning. The amount of detail and contrast which populates this film make it a marvel to look at. The symbolic use of red and black to highlight the films ironic ‘firefighters’ adds a heightened sense of surrealism. In terms of direction, the simple use of repetition, whether it is in the firefighter prep scenes, the book burning scenes, or in  the simple shots of people reacting to an overdose the same was as Linda does (which serves to show just how medicated a society this has become).

Less successful is the script. Some moments land true, but with Truffaut not writing in his native tongue, and Oskar Werner not acting in his, some of the dialogue is wooden. The structure of the book does not lend well to plot as well as it does visuals, and the concept of seeing people learn entire books by repetition feels less rooted in reality when viewed on screen as a bunch of people wandering the woods repeating something. Having not read the book in years, many sequences from the novel resonated with me. Now, having seen the film, while the visuals will stay in my head, the story is not heightened.

Julie Christie, playing both Werner’s love interest as well as his less interested wife, is an absolute marvel. She is bubbly and alive as the former, and morose and (at one point nearly) dead as the other. That she can so seamlessly play both characters without a nod and a wink at the audience is impressive. Werner is fine as Montag, though he certainly does get overshadowed by his female counterpart.

All in all, this was a film to experience, one well worth seeing, but not one which makes me want to run back to it. I can appreciate it for the piece of art that it is (much like another novel-turned-film in Peter Brook’s LORD OF THE FLIES), however it doesn’t strike me as an all time classic. I would have liked to have seen Truffaut working in his native tongue for this one, to see where it would have ended up.


FILM: 7; MOVIE: 4; ACTING: 8; WRITING: 4 (What is this?)



~ by johnlink00 on July 19, 2010.

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