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HBO Is Adapting Fahrenheit 451 and I Am on Fire

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HBO is developing an adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s classic novel Fahrenheit 451, and while the project is still in early stages, Michael B. Jordan and Michael Shannon are already attached to star. HELL YES. This is the dystopia that we deserve.

Bradbury published Fahrenheit 451 in 1953. As its title page famously explains, “Fahrenheit 451 – the temperature at which book paper catches fire, and burns …” If you’ve never read the novel, well, that’s the main thing you need to know. The plot is set in a future America where books are banned and special crews of “firemen” torch any contraband literature.

Per Wikipedia, we can peek at Bradbury’s motivation back in the ’50s:

“In a 1956 radio interview, Bradbury stated that he wrote Fahrenheit 451 because of his concerns at the time (during the McCarthy era) about the threat of book burning in the United States. In later years, he described the book as a commentary on how mass media reduces interest in reading literature.”

And of course, Bradbury was a teenager during World War II, when Nazis made bonfires of books by Jewish authors and anything that contained dissenting ideas. If you ever question the power of words, just look at how far authoritarian states go to suppress and destroy them.

ANYWAY! There was already a Fahrenheit film by Francois Truffaut in 1966, but let’s be real—we’ve never needed the lessons of the book more than now. Our 24/7 talking-head mass media is worse than ever and the ever-present Internet has contributed to the reduction in reading as well. And a kind of McTrumpism always seems to be looming, with the President decrying any reports he dislikes as false and fake, and installing hardline loyalists across the government. Fahrenheit 451‘s themes never stop being relevant—the book itself has been censored and appeared on banned lists for decades, because humans are stupid and irony can be an advanced concept to grasp.

If HBO’s project goes forward, Creed‘s Michael B. Jordan will play the young fireman, Montag, who realizes that maybe he shouldn’t be setting all of those tomes alight, and Man of Steel‘s Michael Shannon will play his antagonistic fire captain, Beatty. This thing doesn’t even have a full production commitment yet and already the casting is spectacular. Give us this, HBO, we need it.

Ray Bradbury is one of my absolute favorite writers and even though he wrote some of his most famous works half a century ago, they remain eerily precognisant and, I believe, have never been more important to explore.

If any networks are eyeing an adaptation of The Martian Chronicles, call me. I write that script in my head every night before falling asleep.

(via Variety, image: Tim Hamilton/Hill and Wang)

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Kaila is a lifelong New Yorker. She's written for io9, Gizmodo, New York Magazine, The Awl, Wired, Cosmopolitan, and once published a Harlequin novel you'll never find.