Fahrenheit 451 Revisited
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of this I didn't know when I wrote the novel. I wish I had heard
Beatty speak to me at that time. I also discovered that Beatty had
a secret cache of books. He took Montag, the Fireman protagonist
of the novel, home and revealed a fantastic library. Montag was
aghast and cried, "But you're the chief fireman! How can you
keep these books?" To which Beatty responded, "It's not
having the books that counts, Montag, it's reading them. I never
touch them. They're like my harem. I keep them around me and never
once do I ever crack the covers or read one line."
in October 1966, François Truffaut made a film of Fahrenheit
451. I have a theory about film: If you have a very good film
with a bad ending, then you have a bad film. If you have a mediocre
film or a good film with a brilliant ending, then you have an almost
the story of the film Fahrenheit 451. The ending, with the
book-people wandering in the wilderness, speaking the lines from
the books they have memorized as the snow falls all about them and
the fabulous Bernard Herrmann score plays, brings you to tears.
back from a preview with Fritz Lang, the famed German director,
he kept shouting, "God dammit to hell! I hate those book-people
wandering in the forest, speaking their favorite book!"
I said, "it's only a metaphor. It's not supposed to be real.
It's a metaphor."
dammit," said Fritz, "I hate that ending with the book-people
and the snow falling and the Herrmann music."
God I didn't listen to Fritz. The film today stands by itself, without
his God dammits.