Another novel we thought was relegated to a life in high school English class is acting as a cautionary tale for 2018. Ray Bradbury’s award-winning 1953 novel Fahrenheit 451 focuses on a futuristic America where the written word is outlawed, and firemen oversee burning all books. Named for the temperature at which paper burns, the dystopian novel is being turned into a movie by HBO and stars Michael B. Jordan and Michael Shannon. With the first trailer arriving this week, Fahrenheit 451 depicts a future that is feeling less fictional with every passing news day.
We first saw this trend in 2017 with the small screen adaptation of Margaret Atwood’s 1985 novel The Handmaid’s Tale. The book tells the story of the fictional Gilead nation, where women who are able to bear children are turned into slaves. The series became an awards show darling, sweeping just about every category last year thanks its incredible acting, writing, directing, and let’s face it, suddenly timely subject matter. And if forced birthing didn’t scare us enough, perhaps book burning will.
Pulling double duty as a producer on the film as well, Jordan stars as Fahrenheit 451‘s Guy Montag, a fireman who begins to question his role in burning books after a series of events force him to face the reality of the world around him. Shannon stars as Fire Chief Beatty, Montag’s boss and the person who first begins to suspect Montag’s shifting allegiances.
Sofia Boutella from Kingsman: The Secret Service will also star in the film, along with Canadian YouTube personality Lilly Singh, who will play a vlogger named Raven.
The first trailer shows a futuristic society devoid of the written word, that instead relies on talking heads broadcast on to the side of buildings for information. Virtual reality clubs help people fill their days and nights, while school children are taught that by the time they’re adults there will be no books left. It would be a lot less disturbing if it didn’t look so much like the world we live in now.
Fahrenheit 451 was alarming when it was first released in the 1950s, but in the new era of governments crying fake news, it’s now downright terrifying.