The first trailer for the upcoming adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s science fiction novel “Fahrenheit 451” is here. It promises a movie full of neon colors, gorgeous shots, and great set design. My goodness, it looks gorgeous.
Oh, and fam, Michael B. Jordan is here. He. Wants. To. Burn.
“A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. News. Facts. Memoirs. Internet of old. Burn it.”
Those colors! From the fresh blue hue in preparation for the raid on a renegade library to the lit by firelight of the blowtorch as it burns a stack of books. The trailer is a world of reds punctuated with cool neon colors. It’s look is lit AF.
Kramer Morgenthau, director of photography, is on fire. He’s previously worked with HBO on Game of Thrones and Boardwalk Empire. Both of those shows have terrific visual elements for which Morgenthau’s style was well-suited.
Morgenthau was also the DP for Jon Favreau’s Chef. It seems out of place on this list of science fiction, fantasy, and period pieces Regarding his visual approach to shooting a scene, Chef is some of his best work. His shots of the sizzling, delectable five-star spreads from that film would make even the most disaffected food photographers drool.
François Truffaut adapted the story in 1966. He gave us a very ashy, flat future, punctuated only occasionally by strong colors, like the red of the fire truck. It was his way of creating a more relatable futuristic society by eschewing the bright colors and unlived environments in prominent sci-fi works of the time.
That isn’t the vibe we’ve been setting in recent years. The surge of neon-lit, color environments has been a big feature in heady sci-fi. Look at Alex Garland’s work in Ex Machina. Or, honestly, all the very bright colors in his hard sci-fi release this past weekend, Annihilation.
Aside from the looks, the trailer promises a timely movie. It feels terrifyingly relevant to the year-long conversation we’ve been having in the United States about fake news, Russian propaganda, and the value of unbiased reporting.
Ramin Bahrani, the director of Fahrenheit 451, is looking at a world in which facts are controlled by the state, and the public no longer wants news. Mostly because they don’t even remember what it’s like. In the War on Books, they’ve already reached the stage where children will grow up in a world free of the terrors of knowledge.
“Have you ever seen a physical book before? Do you want to know what’s inside? Insanity. Chaos.”
It’s clear from Michael Shannon’s voice-over on the trailer as Captain Beatty, the fire chief, that we’ll be getting a fully-realized true believer. He’s got all the necessary skills when it comes to bringing out the fervent zealotry inherent in the characters he plays. Remember when he was just playing around, reading that sorority letter on Funny Or Die? Shannon’s career is full of characters suffering from the madness of uncompromising belief. In last year’s Shape of Water, he played the role of a tool of the state perfectly.
The trailer doesn’t give us much of who Jordan will be as Guy Montag. Mostly, we see his initial passion for fire. Jordan is sure to be a great fit as Montag, especially after what he showed he could with Killmonger in Black Panther.
In “Fahrenheit 451”, Montag is a conflicted hero. He’s a tool of a fascist state who eventually sees the light. It’s an eye-opening experience to realize the equality you’ve enforced in your world isn’t any different than a boot smooshing ants. How do you atone? Can you change the world, or were you only ever good at ruthlessly enforcing the status quo? These are great questions for our times. Hopefully, the movie will give Jordan the room to explore them thoroughly.
This technicolor nightmare drops in May.
(Do you see how I didn’t make any puns about the Human Torch? Not one. Didn’t even reference it.)