As has become the norm with creators telling post-apocalyptic or sci-fi stories these days, the man behind HBO’s new take on FAHRENHEIT 451 thinks the Ray Bradbury classic has a lot to say about society in 2018.
“In addition to what was happening in Nazi Germany and burning books, burning people, Bradbury was worried about mass entertainment,” said creator and director Ramin Bahrani, referencing when the original novel was written and published. “He was worried about reader’s digest, he was concerned about quick short soundbites. He thought all that was going to destroy concepts of reading, thinking, knowledge. And of course we see that now. We can get into tweets, wiki entries, which are basically even shorter entries of readers’ digests. I think we’re all guilty of reading the headlines… That goes to what’s in Bradbury’s novel that’s different than the other classic – 1984 – Bradbury says, we asked for this… We asked for things to become this way.”
Asked where the checks and balances went, the filmmaker said, “We’ve handed them over to Google, Facebook, the government, we’ve decided we don’t want any of that. Hopefully this new generation will begin to have a different opinion that will bring it back. We’re willingly give that up.”
For the Michael B. Jordan-Michael Shannon project, which is set in a society where books are illegal and are burned if discovered, the filmmakers burned actual, real books. And they were chosen carefully and deliberately from literature that the writer and director personally loves.
“I really wanted to burn Ferdowsi, it’s an Iranian epic poem, I really wanted to burn that,” Bahrani said. “I really wanted Toni Morrison, because I love Toni Morrison. And it’s not just books. Culture is in the process of being eroded in the film. We burned Werner Herzog films, and music. Music is something that begins to get controlled.”
Fahrenheit 451 premieres in Spring of 2018 on HBO.