An empathetic and engaged moral conscience has run through director Ramin Bahrani’s filmography and looks to continue with his HBO adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s seminal novel Fahrenheit 451.
“Knowledge is dangerous. Every book is like a loaded gun,” a quick clip of the show professes. Conflict between a government censorship diehard and the flamethrowing fireman who isn’t quite sold will run rampant in the TV movie written and directed by Bahrani, who has plenty of thoughts on how to keep the sci-fi story relevant.
Speaking at a panel during the TCA winter press tour, Bahrani — along with actress Sofia Boutella (her co-stars Michael B. Jordan and Michael Shannon were late-notice cancellations on the panel) — explained the “paramount” effect the internet had on his adaptation.
Seeking to modernize the themes in Bradbury’s 1953 novel — which revolve around the population’s willing abandonment of knowledge — Bahrani said that where “Bradbury was concerned about mass entertainment and short sound bites,” he is “with tweets and wiki entries."
"We’re all guilty of just reading the headlines,” the director concluded.
Attempting to stay true to the book while updating the technology, the director noted that the struggle to maintain fidelity to the classic almost drove him to “give HBO their money back.” Real books were burned in order to find the correctly scary tone for the sci-fi dystopia, which was tough for the cast and crew of heavy readers. “I like books more than films,” professed Bahrani, while Boutella advocated that books “give you an alternative way of thinking.”
Some on Twitter noted that later in the series, it seems like Jordan’s character may do some light reading of his own:
Fahrenheit 451's in-depth damnation of media-burning knowledge control premieres this spring.