With imagery as powerful and as alarming as Pink Floyd’s film The Wall (1982), the trailer for Fahrenheit 451 is a breath of fresh air, in a climate of political staleness in contemporary film.
If the Oscars had any impact, to me, it was noticing how stale and nostalgic a lot of the themes of popular films were over the last 12 months.
Don’t get me wrong, I thought The Shape of Water (2017) was a great film, worthy of praise – it’s just the 1950’s backdrop, alongside other backwards looking war biopics like Dunkirk (2017) and Darkest Hour (2017), in the best film nominees made for a very beige scene overall.
A mainstream LGBT-themed movie Call Me by Your Name (2017), a female director with Lady Bird (2017), and Jordan Peele, an African-American director, certainly increased the diversity of the candidates, and range of viewpoints, but there was nothing that felt like 2017 was a year where cinema had the capacity to shock and terrify with its unique political perspective.
With Fahrenheit 451, Ramin Bahrani appears to be directing a futuristic version of the classic Ray Bradbury novel, with imagery that is excitingly fresh.
With beloved star of the day Michael B. Jordan, fresh from the hype around Black Panther (2018) starring alongside the menacing Shape of Water villain Michael Shannon, the tension appears ripe, as Jordan’s character proclaims to a classroom of children ‘‘…by the time you guys grow up there won’t be one book left”.
The political subtext of the story couldn’t be more pressing in my opinion.
In a time where echo chambers re-enforce extremist ideologies on both sides of politics, and the over-arching aim of victory to one side seems to be to silence the opponent by banning, censoring or omitting – a narrative outlining the importance of free speech is desperately needed.
Whilst the effect of a future where ‘firemen’ round up any books and burn them seems less of a threat in the age of digital archives, something translates very well to the modern era.
I’ve always been a big Bradbury fan, and Fahrenheit 451 is one of my favourite stories of his, so I’m looking forward to this movie, and early trailers suggest it probably won’t disappoint.
The film is set to screen on HBO in May, let us know your thoughts on the trailer in the comments below.