Monday, September 5, 2011

Fahrenheit 451 (Remake) - Script Review

The Verdict: One of the best-written scripts I read, it offers a special-effects heavy update to the timeless classic, while being less subtle than Truffaut's film version.

What’s it about?
In an oppressive future, a fireman whose duty is to destroy all books begins to question his task. (Source: IMDb)

Plot Summary [SPOILERS]:
The first scene introduces us to the Fire Brigade: lead by Montag and Captain Beatty they search a house and soon find books, which is a major crime in this future. Relentlessly they burn the books and the house and arrest the family. 

We follow Montag on his way back home, when he meets Clarisse, the nine-year old neighbors’ girl, they talk and befriend each other. Back at home, Montag finds his wife, Millie passed out from an overdose of levelers. Medics come and resuscitate her, although the next morning she doesn’t remember a thing and doesn’t even want to talk about her apparent suicide attempt. Millie only wants to watch her interactive soap opera.

Back at the station, Captain Beatty tells Montag that soon he will be Captain of the Fire Brigade, before they leave for another emergency. They arrive at an old Victorian house and find thousand of books stashed away in the walls. The owner of the books, an old woman, chooses to die with her books and sets them on fire herself. Montag is shocked by the death of the woman: he can’t understand why would someone choose to die for something illegal? In the aftermath of her death, Montag finds two books and takes them. On his way back home he gets paranoid and gets into trouble with the police, but Clarisse helps him out. He confides in her about the books and gives her one of the books. At home he starts reading, but the next morning his wife finds the book and gets really furious at Montag. As he can’t convince her to keep quiet about it and help him, Montag takes the book back to the Fire Brigade and burn it. But too late! Montag has entered a new world and doesn’t want to leave. He starts stealing books on every deployment and stashes them at home.

One night Montag wakes up and sees Clarisse’s house being burned down. Someone found the book he gave to her. Now, Clarisse and her parents are on the run and of course Montag feels guilty for this. He seeks out Clarisse’s uncle, Faber, who was known for being a rebel a long time ago. With Montag being a Fire Officer, he doesn’t want to talk with Montag, but he forces Faber to take the books he salvaged and stashed away. A fragile bond forms between those two men. Montag has changed, his love for books, changed his way of looking at his job. At the next deployment the crew arrives at Montag’s home: Millie turned him in and now Captain Beatty forces Montag to burn down his own home. Beatty also knows about Faber and in an act of sheer hate, Montag kills Captain Beatty with his flamethrower. 

He can warn Faber to flee before the police arrive and the two men, now most wanted criminals, meet at an old abandoned warehouse. Soon the police have them surrounded and a heavy siege starts, Montag can flee, but Faber dies in the hail of bullets. The police is so desperate to find Montag as fast as possible, because the whole world is watching them via live TV, that they stage his death and kill some random homeless man.

Montag is free! He follows the river, just as Faber told him, and finds a group of people living in the mountains, outcasts just like him. There he find Clarisse and her parents among those people, who memorize books to save them from being destroyed. 

While they travel further away from the city, the city gets nuked and totally destroyed.

The Dilemma: What I really liked about the script was the chouice presented to Montag. His future at the Fire Brigade looks really bright, he has a nice home, but still something keeps nagging at him. The decision to take that book and read for the first time, has so much weight, it such a profound moment with consequences Montag couldn't have imagined. But it is his decision to take that book! The characters grows immensely in this moment, because he isn't thrown into the world of the second act, but decides to take that step himself.

The Project:
In 1966 Truffaut filmed a adaptation of the Ray Bradbury novel of the same name.
The plans for a remake started in 1997 with Mel Gibson wanting to produce, star and/or direct the new adaptation/remake. Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt were rumored to play the lead role. In 2001 Frank Darabont revived the project (this his script!) with Tom Hanks in the lead role. In 2008 Hanks left the project and since then nothing new happened. If this will ever get made depends on finding a star for the lead role of Guy Montag. (Source: Wikipedia)

So, as always I encourage you to comment on my post, just choose 'Post as Anonymous', if you don't want to register first. Looking forward to your critism...

Have a nice day,


  1. I once read what I think was the perfect comment about this movie: It came out true, only real books aren´t burned, they´re forgotten. (not talking about Harry Potter, Breaking Dawn and like trash of course)

  2. I may have to buy this book in case it doesn't get made. Its amazing how the great projects get buried.

  3. I teach the book every year and am anxiously awaiting a remake. I show clips of the Truffaut original just for kicks. Today's teenagers love to laugh at the cheesiness of it, but they would love to see a remake now that we have the technology to pull it off. I don't like Darabont's changes to Clarisse's role. She's a catalyst for Montag and I believe should be left alone to be just that. It's fitting that Faber could be Clarisse's uncle, but I worry that this version would do the same as Truffaut's and make Clarisse feel like a love interest of some kind, which is not at all true to the novel. Either way, it would sure be fun to pick it apart with my 11th graders some day.

    1. Thanks for your comment!
      I can imagine it to be great to to discuss in school - it teaches so many values not just about books, but about life itself. Right now, it still isn't looking bright for this project, and I am afraid that Tom Hanks could be the only one reviving this movie.