Back Seat Producers Season 07 Shows

BSP Episode 232: Fahrenheit 451

Release date:  11/24/1966

Universal Pictures


Directed by

  • Francois Truffaut

Produced by

  • Lewis M. Allen

Screenplay by

  • Jean-Louis Ricard
  • Francois Truffaut

Story by (novel)

  • Ray Bradbury


Oskar Werner

  • Guy Montag

Julie Christie

  • Clarisse/Linda Montag

Cyril Cusack

  • The Captain


Darrell hadn’t seen the movie in a long time and thought it wasn’t bad; it had problems but it was a decent interpretation of the novel Fahrenheit 451.  Jill thought it had some good elements and was surprised at how prophetic the film was, especially in its use of language.  The hosts also commented on how a lot of what was written in 1953, especially the anti-socialism aspect, has come true today.

Darrell brought up the feud between Truffaut and Werner and how that affected the portrayal of Montag.  Tony liked the movie (both now and years ago).  He also likened Montag’s character to the concept of The Seven Year Itch in the way he reacts to his wife vs. Clarisse.  He thought some of the performances were robotic, on purpose, but it didn’t necessarily work.  The hosts all agreed that Julie Christie’s performance as Linda and Clarisse were very good.

Jill thought that the soundtrack acted almost as another character in the film and that the music drew you in.  The opening montage with only the spoken word introductions was also a brilliant move.  They also loved the scene in which Montag picks up a newspaper and the viewer sees that the newspaper is drawn as a cartoon and has no words at all.

The theme of narcissism, how the characters were almost programmed to be that way was an interesting contrast to The Captain’s earlier speech of how the only way to make everyone happy in society was to make everybody equal.

Jill liked the scene in which the older woman burned herself with her books, both as the woman’s stance as an individual and how the books seemed to come alive as they burned.  The group of people at the end of the film, who all memorized and subsequently “became” their book, brought up the very difficult question of, “Which book would you pick, which book would you BE?”  Tony would be The Stone and the Flute by Hans Bemmann.  Jill toyed with the thought of picking/being The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison.  Darrell brought up an interesting point regarding the people who have chosen to memorize and become a book to preserve that particular work.  There are certainly many more books than there are people to memorize them (as far as the film goes) so there will still be many more books lost than kept alive.

The hosts discussed censorship today and what they remembered when they were younger.  None of them were alive when there really did burn books but they all remember the PRMC and music censorship.  Today there is internet censorship, but what exactly gets censored is interesting, which brought up the age-old question of who decides what should and should not be censored and how.

Movie trivia bits n’ pieces:

Among the books burned by the firemen is the film journal Cahiers du Cinema, which was written by director Francois Truffaut.  Also among the books burned are The Martian Chronicles and Fahrenheit 451, both written by Ray Bradbury.

According to producer Lewis M. Allen, it was his idea to have Julie Christie play both main female roles, as Truffaut thought that the characters should not be good vs. evil but should instead be two sides of the same coin.  Allen said that Terence Stamp, who was originally slated to play Montag, then withdrew from the movie because Stamp felt that with two parts, Christie would overshadow him.


Your Producers for this episode were:

  • Tony
  • Darrell
  • Jill

This episode was recorded: 6/13/2012