Capital Celluloid 2022 — Day 44: Sun Feb 13

Fahrenheit 451 (Truffaut, 1966): BFI Southbank, NFT1, 12.40pm

This film, part of the Francois Truffaut season, is an oddity that has grown in stature over the years. When the movie was released no one really expected a sci-fi movie from Francois Truffaut and most were both puzzled and disappointed but its depiction of an authoritarian state that has outlawed books looks amazing (partly thanks to Nic Roeg's superb cinematography).

There are other numerous pleasures along the way, including Julie Christie (think Deborah Kerr in The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp or the central character in Luis Bunuel's That Obscure Object of Desire) playing both the hero's wife and his lover and the innovative opening credits. There is also the music which, and I don't say this lightly, contains some of Bernard Herrmann's finest work. The film may lose its way towards the end but the denoument aside this is a work very much worthy of investigation.

Here is an interview with Truffaut on Hitchcock (just for the hell of it). The film is also being screened at the NFT (oh go on indulge me) on February 5th and 27th (details here).

Time Out review:
An underrated film, perhaps because it is less science fiction than a tale of 'once upon a time'. Where Ray Bradbury's novel posited a strange, terrifyingly mechanised society which has banned books in the interests of material well-being, Truffaut presents a cosy world not so very different from our own, with television a universal father-figure pouring out reassuring messages, and the only element of menace a fire-engine tearing down the road. A bright, gleaming childhood red, the engine is like a reminder of toyhood days; and as Werner's fireman hero goes about his task of destroying literature, his growing awareness of the almost human way in which books curl up and die in the flames gradually assumes the dimensions of a quest for a legendary lost treasure - movingly glimpsed as he slowly and painfully deciphers the title-page of David Copperfield. Here the rich, nostalgic pull of the past wins out over technocracy, and the film ends, as it began, with a scene lifted right out of time: a wonderful shot of the rebels - each dedicated to the preservation of a literary masterpiece by committing it to memory - wandering in contented, idyllic exile by the edge of a glitteringly icy lake.
Tom Milne

Here (and above) are the sublime opening credits.

No comments: