Amazon – Fahrenheit 451
GoodReads – Fahrenheit 451
Author – Ray Bradbury
Guy Montag is a fireman. His job is to burn books, which are forbidden, being the source of all discord and unhappiness. Even so, Montag is unhappy; there is discord in his marriage. Are books hidden in his house? The Mechanical Hound of the Fire Department, armed with a lethal hypodermic, escorted by helicopters, is ready to track down those dissidents who defy society to preserve and read books. – Goodreads Synopsis
Fahrenheit 451 was one of the first books I’ve read that really got through to me. Picture
that greasy, angsty, and unfocused teenager sitting in the back of the class daydreaming. Well… that was me. Now I’ve always loved reading (even school assigned reading like this one was), and it has always played a special part in my life, I just never had that intellectual smack in the face until I experienced Fahrenheit 451. (Maybe that’s not 100% true)
I put Fahrenheit 451 right at the top of the list of dystopian novels – right beside Brave New World. (Sorry but I’m not part of the crew that thinks 1984 is the best) The dystopia where people are just not interested in reading and enslaved by media just seems so much more appealing to me. (Not saying I want it, I just enjoy reading it more) I mean what is scarier than a world with no books! A world where we care more about senseless media viewing! This is like our worst nightmare here in the book blogging community!
Ok let’s get back to how it got back through to me. (OK yeah let’s put a cool headline here to make the post look more professional)
How Fahrenheit 451 Made an Everlasting Impact on Me
(Yeah that’s sweet)
The main protagonist, Guy Montage, just goes along with whatever is happening. He starts to realize “Hey what the hell am I doing anyways. Maybe books are cool?” Montage just wants to find himself, and what better to help him do that, but through the means that his current job is to incinerate. (Who would look for meaning in books?!) A part of how Fahrenheit 451 impacted me so much, is how I see myself in Montage’s character. I mean there is a reason why this is on most school reading lists. Who hasn’t had a period where they feel like Montage?
I see myself in Montage, but who was really the star for me, was his boss – Captain Beatty. Beatty’s mentor-like demeanor through the whole story really got to me. I needed to hear some of the things he had to say, and I still think about them all of these years later. I need to paste this quote here from during his speech to Montage:
“Ah.” Beatty leaned forward in the faint mist of smoke from his pipe. “What more easily explained and natural? With school turning out more runners, jumpers, racers, tinkerers, grabbers, snatchers, fliers, and swimmers instead of examiners, critics, knowers, and imaginative creators, the word `intellectual,’ of course, became the swear word it deserved to be. You always dread the unfamiliar. Surely you remember the boy in your own school class who was exceptionally ‘bright,’ did most of the reciting and answering while the others sat like so many leaden idols, hating him. And wasn’t it this bright boy you selected for beatings and tortures after hours? Of course it was. We must all be alike. Not everyone born free and equal, as the Constitution says, but everyone made equal. Each man the image of every other; then all are happy, for there are no mountains to make them cower, to judge themselves against. So! A book is a loaded gun in the house next door. Burn it. Take the shot from the weapon. Breach man’s mind. Who knows who might be the target of the well-read man? Me? I won’t stomach them for a minute. And so when houses were finally fireproofed completely, all over the world (you were correct in your assumption the other night) there was no longer need of firemen for the old purposes. They were given the new job, as custodians of our peace of mind, the focus of our understandable and rightful dread of being inferior; official censors, judges, and executors. That’s you, Montag, and that’s me.”
OK – I realize this quote is going to be longer than my post, but god damn did this whole speech really slap me in the face when I first read it. It was exactly what I could not put into words back when I was that narcissistic teen. Powerful. Beautiful. Beatty (although contradictory in his actions) was an excellent teacher to really make you critically think.
How Did the Movie Stack Up?
Killmonger is back BABY! Michael Shannon is Beatty! Ok I can dig both of that.
What I was more interested then was how well that they were going to be able to pull of this adaption. I came in with pretty high hope – I love HBO, and I like the actors that were picked to play the main players.
Right off the bat Killmonger (shit… Montage) was jumping around being this big media presence. Meh, but ok I get it. It is not how his character was originally written, but maybe this is how it would really play out in the real world now that we know where tech is actually going. Then they started burning PCs and smashing servers. Meh, but ok this is also what it would probably be like. I can see the direction that this movie is taking, and how it still wants to hold true to how Ray Bradbury first envisioned his story. Where is Montage’s wife?…
I liked that they showed the scene of the woman burning herself with her books. This is a quote from the book about that scene:
There must be something in books, things we can’t imagine, to make a woman stay in a burning house; there must be something there. You don’t stay for nothing.
I wish that meaning had stayed in the movie! Books are special to me, and I wanted to see more of that message come across. Beatty’s message came through somewhat, I just wished the power of that full speech from the book came through. I do still enjoy the person they cast to play the role, and he did do a good job of portraying the essence of Beatty’s character, but I want the message of the story to be fully shown! I’m not feeling it. It’s not what I was expecting going in.
Meh. I enjoyed it. Still wanted more.
The book though? That’s a masterpiece. Read it if you haven’t yet.