This story based on the novel by Ray Bradbury and tells the tale of a dystopian future where all books are banned. We are told that book are forbidden because they make people unhappy and thus there are 'firemen' whose job it is to 'burn the books to ashes and then burn the ashes'.
The film focuses on Guy Montag (Oskar Werner) who is a fireman and does not question why he does what he does. He just follows the law and does what he is told to do. He fully buys into the propaganda he has been taught and that his society lives under. This makes him deeply depressed.
One day on his way home he meets a neighbor who asks him questions about his work. Both his wife and neighbor are played by Julie Christie. It seems a strange choice for director François Truffaut to make.
We view the world that Montag lives in and see how any type of individual thought has been suppressed and stamped out. The media is interactive and exist primarily to control the thoughts of the viewers. The good of the many is more important than the good of the individual. Sports are encouraged because they promote the group spirit.
Everything changes for Montag on the day he receives a work promotion. Upon arriving home he finds his wife has taken an overdose of pills. Technicians come and replace her blood which has a dramatic effect on her personality. Where before she was listless, now she is energetic and hyper sexual. At first this makes Montag happy but his wife's loss of memory and personality come to disturb him.
Soon the words of his neighbor begin to play over in his mind and one day instead of turning in a book to burn, he takes it home with him and finds himself reading the forbidden texts late at night. All the while he is becoming more fearful that he will be caught since he is starting to amass a collection of books. They are enriching his life and bringing back the passion that his job had taken away from him.
The movie has such a gloomy atmosphere like the worst days of the Soviet Union or the Eastern Block countries. Paranoia is rampant as in the way some firemen conspire against each other in order to remove those who are standing in the way of their advancement. Drugs are used to modify emotions in this society in the same what that vodka was used under communism.
At work Montag finds that he is no longer about to use the firehouses fireman pole and must instead travel up and down the staircase. That lose of privilege seems oddly keyed only to him.
It's this kind of world without color or joy and knowledge of their past that can only hold a few thoughts in it's head at the same time. - order, conformity, accept what you see as truth. No individual comment or opinion. It's interesting to see the parallels to our world today where their seems to be only two points of view (left and right) and no mixing of opinions allowed.
Eventually Montag finds that he can no longer live in his society and seeks to escape. His hand is forced when his own team of Firemen come to his house looking for books.
His escape and resettlement with a group who preserve books by memorizing them is an elegant solution to the fascism all around them. They don't have names, but are referred to by the books they have memorized.
Truffaut is able to create this dystopian world by slightly adjusting the world we already know. Travel by monorail is supposed to portray a futuristic world as is the wall sized TV that only project one channel. It's like Fox News took over cable TV. The fear of government (which includes 'clean up squads' that accost long haired males in the street and force cut their hair) hangs over everything.
It's a moody and somber film but a thoughtful one.
I forever stand vigilant to protect this planet from the myriad of forces that are always against us. Be it the octopus, zombies, aliens or the robots my team of human agents, and our feline allies, circle the globe in a never ending struggle for human freedom.
I learn all I can on every subject that interests me. I especially enjoy ancient history because in the past there are valuable lessons to be found. Also, if I ever get my time machine to work properly, it would be good to know a bit about possible destinations and what to expect when I get there.
I greatly appreciate beautiful design. Be it manufactured or found naturally I am fascinated by the process of invention. I am attracted to the unique, the strange, the haunted. I like to share what I find on this blog.
And not let us forget the 'Cephalopod Menace' who, if allowed to, would wrap their tentacles around all that is good and pure in this life and crush it until it remained no more. They are creatures of pure spite. Hate is all they know. Death is all they do. They are our most ruthless and determined enemy.
So we fight. Selena has the celebrity contacts, the cat is ruthless and without pity, Roosevelt's ghost has the experience and I do the wetwork.
Fighting for the future of the planet doesn't have to be a chore, however. We can take the time to appreciate all that is cool in this world even as we cut the octopus into bite sized chunks.
This is the reason there has always been and must forever be, a Cave of Cool. Be sure to wipe your feet before you enter.