Fahrenheit 451 (2018 film)

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Fahrenheit 451
Film release poster
Directed byRamin Bahrani
Screenplay by
Based onFahrenheit 451
by Ray Bradbury
Produced byDavid Coatsworth
CinematographyKramer Morgenthau
Edited byAlex Hall
Music by
Distributed byHBO
Release dates
  • May 12, 2018 (2018-05-12) (Cannes)
  • May 19, 2018 (2018-05-19) (United States)
Running time
101 minutes
CountryUnited States

Fahrenheit 451 is a 2018 American dystopian drama film directed and co-written by Ramin Bahrani, based on the 1953 book of the same name by Ray Bradbury. It stars Michael B. Jordan, Michael Shannon, Khandi Alexander, Sofia Boutella, Lilly Singh, Grace Lynn Kung and Martin Donovan. Set in a future America, the film follows a "fireman" whose job it is to burn books, which are now illegal, only to question society after meeting a young woman. After premiering at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival, the film aired on HBO on May 19, 2018, receiving mixed critical reviews, with praise for the performances and visuals, but criticism for the screenplay and lack of faithfulness to the source material.


In the future, after a Second American Civil War, most reading in the United States is confined to the Internet, called "The 9", and most books are banned (except for greatly simplified versions of books such as the Bible, To the Lighthouse and Moby Dick). The fire department serves a different function. The firemen do not contain fires, but rather they start them. Furthermore, the firemen are ordered to burn books, in addition to buildings.[1]

Guy Montag is a fireman living in Cleveland and goes about his work without question, believing that by following in his captain's footsteps he is serving and protecting society. All this changes when he meets an informant named Clarisse, who makes him challenge his actions and convictions by revealing some of the real history of the US and the rise of the Ministry with him.[2] When he finally decides to rebel and understand how the "Eels" (book-reading outcasts) read, he comes to a realization—he now wants to read as well. Montag decides to help a rebel who has a plan to reproduce their information through animals. This is achieved by embedding all the books into the starling's DNA, enabling it to continue existing and disseminate this knowledge to others in the future. Montag had the mission of obtaining a transponder from his fire department, with the intent to secure it onto a bird. Once attached, the starling would be traceable by a team of scientists who will then transfer the DNA to other animals.

After Montag steals the transponder, fireman Beatty goes to Montag to confirm his intention to continue as a fireman burning books. The firemen go to Montag's house and find a large stash of planted books. On Beatty's orders, Montag starts burning the stash. Montag remembers that Captain Beatty was among the group of firemen who beat up his father for being an Eel and stops burning the books. Montag is confronted by Captain Beatty, who erases his identity. After burning a fireman alive, Montag ends up on the run, eventually connecting with the group of Eels. The Eels' house is discovered by the firemen; Montag finds the bird and places a transponder inside it so that it can find its way to scientists in Canada. Captain Beatty confronts him and attempts to stop him but allows the bird to fly away. After Montag releases the bird, Beatty sets him on fire out of anger. The starling makes it to Canada and joins with an immense flock of other starlings.



Ramin Bahrani had been developing an adaptation of Bradbury's novel as early as June 2016.[3][4] In April 2017, Michael Shannon and Michael B. Jordan were cast in the film, with Jordan also assuming an executive producer role.[5] In June, Sofia Boutella became attached to the project,[6] YouTube personality Lilly Singh was cast as a vlogger,[7] and Laura Harrier was cast as Millie, Montag's wife, though she was ultimately cut from the film.[8] Filming began in July 2017, with the additions of Martin Donovan, Andy McQueen and Grace Lynn Kung to the cast in August.[9][10]


On January 11, 2018, HBO's Twitter account released a trailer for the film, featuring the tagline, "Fact. Fiction. It all burns."[11] The film was released on May 19, 2018, after premiering at the 2018 Cannes Film Festival.

It was released on DVD and Blu-ray on September 18, 2018.[12][13]


On review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 32% based on 82 reviews, and an average rating of 4.9/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Fahrenheit 451 fails to burn as brightly as its classic source material, opting for slickly mundane smoke-blowing over hard-hitting topical edge."[14] On Metacritic, which assigns a normalized rating to reviews, the film has a score of 47 out of 100, based on 19 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[15]

For IndieWire, Ben Travers gave the film a grade of "C+", writing that "Michael B. Jordan and Michael Shannon make for a compelling pair in an aptly modernized update that still feels far too conventional."[16] Todd McCarthy of The Hollywood Reporter praised the production value but wrote that (referring to the ending of the adaptation) "as disturbing as the forecast for American life and politics may be in Fahrenheit 451, this wrinkle nonetheless serves to seriously diminish the absolute need to preserve texts when they're known to still exist elsewhere; when America gets its head on straight again, there is backup to resupply the intellectually deprived."[17]

In his review for RogerEbert.com, Odie Henderson noted the steering of Bradbury's ideas into the factual realm, drawing parallels with the satirical direction of Network being weakened by the evolution of television, adding that "much of the novel's shock value and allegorical power also feels weakened as a result."[18]

IGN's Matt Fowler wrote that the film "features strong performances and a dancing, flickering visual flare, but all that's not enough to cover up the clunkiness of the script and the strain of reconfiguring this always relevant-yet still very 1950s-story to fit within our 2018 specifics".[19] Entertainment Weekly's Darren Franich wrote that the film "has its heart in the right place, but its head sure crawled up somewhere."[20]

In The Baffler, Alexander Zaitchik described HBO's adaption as "gut[ting] Fahrenheit of its core idea ... roughly akin to a GlaxoSmithKline production of Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World."[21]


Year Ceremony Category Nominee(s) Result Ref.
2018 Primetime Creative Arts Emmy Awards Outstanding Television Movie Fahrenheit 451 Nominated [22]
Outstanding Cinematography for a Limited Series or Movie Kramer Morgenthau Nominated
Outstanding Fantasy/Sci-Fi Costumes Meghan Kasperlik, Renee Fontana, Cori Burchell Nominated
Outstanding Sound Editing for a Limited Series, Movie, or Special Nick Forshager, Joe Bracciale, Martin Gwynn Jones, Brent Pickett, Claire Dobson, Robert Bertola, Alex Bullick, Tyler Whitham, Matt Decker, John Elliot Nominated
Outstanding Sound Mixing for a Limited Series or Movie Tom Fleischman, Henry Embry, George Lara, Mark DeSimone Nominated
2019 Producers Guild Awards Outstanding Producer of Streamed or Televised Motion Pictures Sarah Green, Ramin Bahrani, Michael B. Jordan, Alan Gasmer, Peter Jaysen, and David Coatsworth Won [23]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ D'Addario, Daniel (May 13, 2018). "HBO's Fahrenheit 451 Extinguishes What Made the Book Great". Time.
  2. ^ O'Keefe, Kevin (May 12, 2018). "TV Review: 'Fahrenheit 451'". Variety.
  3. ^ Jackson, Leigh-Ann (August 4, 2018). "How Director Ramin Bahrani Fought to Bring 'Fahrenheit 451' Adaptation to Screen". The Hollywood Reporter.
  4. ^ Jaafar, Ali (June 8, 2016). "WME Signs Filmmaker Ramin Bahrani". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved July 20, 2017.
  5. ^ Hipes, Patrick (April 19, 2017). "Michael B. Jordan & Michael Shannon To Topline 'Fahrenheit 451' Movie At HBO". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved July 20, 2017.
  6. ^ Hipes, Patrick (June 7, 2017). "Sofia Boutella Joins HBO Films' 'Fahrenheit 451'". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Archived from the original on June 10, 2022. Retrieved July 20, 2017.
  7. ^ Hipes, Patrick (June 16, 2017). "'Fahrenheit 451': Vlogger Lilly Singh Joins HBO Movie, Playing A Vlogger". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved July 20, 2017.
  8. ^ Petski, Denise (June 26, 2017). "'Fahrenheit 451': Laura Harrier Cast As Millie In HBO Movie". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved July 20, 2017.
  9. ^ Petski, Denise (August 25, 2017). "'Fahrenheit 451': Martin Donovan, Andy McQueen & Grace Lynn Kung Cast In HBO Movie". Deadline Hollywood. Penske Business Media. Retrieved February 14, 2018.
  10. ^ Bacle, Ariana (July 20, 2017). "Michael B. Jordan Posts Fiery First Photo From HBO's 'Fahrenheit 451'". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved July 20, 2017.
  11. ^ "Fahrenheit 451 (2018) Teaser Trailer". HBO. YouTube. January 11, 2018. Retrieved May 14, 2018.
  12. ^ "Fahrenheit 451 (2018) Blu-ray". June 4, 2018.
  13. ^ Bradley, Dan (June 17, 2018). "HBO's 'Fahrenheit 451' Blu-ray, DVD and Digital Release Dates and Details". TheHDRoom. Retrieved February 3, 2019.
  14. ^ "Fahrenheit 451 (2018)". Rotten Tomatoes. Fandango. Retrieved October 10, 2021.
  15. ^ "Fahrenheit 451 reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved May 23, 2018.
  16. ^ Travers, Ben (May 12, 2018). "'Fahrenheit 451' Review: Michael B. Jordan's HBO Adaptation Is a Radically Different Take That's Far From Revolutionary". IndieWire. Retrieved May 23, 2018.
  17. ^ McCarthy, Todd (May 12, 2018). "'Fahrenheit 451': Film Review – Cannes 2018". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved May 23, 2018.
  18. ^ Henderson, Odie (May 18, 2018). "Fahrenheit 451 Movie Review & Film Summary". RogerEbert.com. Retrieved February 3, 2019.
  19. ^ Fowler, Matt (May 18, 2018). "HBO's Fahrenheit 451 Review". IGN. Retrieved February 3, 2019.
  20. ^ Franich, Darren (May 18, 2018). "Why is HBO's Fahrenheit 451 so bad?". Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved February 3, 2019.
  21. ^ Zaitchik, Alexander (November 4, 2019). "R.I.P., Kill Your TV". The Baffler.
  22. ^ "Emmys.com list of 2018 Nominees & Winners". Retrieved July 14, 2018.
  23. ^ Pedersen, Erik (January 20, 2019). "Producers Guild Awards: 'Green Book' Takes Best Picture; 'Americans' & 'Mrs. Maisel' Lead TV – Winners List". Deadline.

External links[edit]