Mar 31, 2010

Francois Truffaut's Fahrenheit 451

Kieran and I managed to catch Francois Truffaut's 1966 Fahrenheit 451 at the Chauvel Cinematheque on Monday, and I thought I'd quickly share an insight of the film with you.

"Fahrenheit four-five-one is the temperature at which book paper catches fire and starts to burn."

Based on the novel of the same title by Ray Bradbury, the film is set in a dystopian future where books are deemed as the oppressors of society (staying home to read your book makes you anti-social!). The firemen of this society don't put out fires. Instead, their job is to destroy all the remaining books by making fires out of them. The story follows a fireman at the verge of a promotion to a higher ranking officer, who begins to question the entire system.

As one of the pioneers of French New Wave cinema, only Truffaut can make a jump-cut/zoom shot so damn deliciously appropriate. This was Truffaut's first film in colour, and I admire this. Having only seen The 400 Blows and half of Jules et Jim prior to this, I think his style is consistent here. Also, given the fact that this is his first (and only) English film, and that it was an American large-scale, bigger budget production compared to his previous films of small crews and smaller budgets. I really liked the style of this film, and loved the crazy French Nouveau techniques such as the weird zoom shots and how Truffaut continuously crosses the line of perception with the camera, playing on our understanding of character relationships.

I think for a sci-fi film, the story doesn't resonate as strongly as I would have liked. The concept was great, and I like the fact that Truffaut took on the project with his New Wave ideas. I love dystopian type society films with anti-heroes such as Montag, our story's lead.

I do recommend this film to all fans of French New Wave, or simply experimental techniques used in large-scale films such as this.

I rated this 7/10.

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