We’re already living in a dystopian reality, so it’s not surprising that our entertainment reflects that. Following Hulu’s release of The Handmaid’s Tale, showing a dark US theocratic future, HBO is adapting one of the original dystopian classics, Ray Bradbury’s Fahrenheit 451, according to Variety. The project is in development, but HBO is pushing it toward production with Michael B. Jordan (who also popped up in Matrix relaunch rumors) and Michael Shannon in starring roles.
The book portrays a future where books are outlawed and “Firemen” like Guy Montag (Jordan) and his boss Captain Beatty (Shannon) are charged with setting them ablaze — the title refers to the temperature at which paper supposedly catches fire. However, when Montag meets a free-thinking new neighbor, Clarisse, he starts to question the course of his life.
Bradbury published the novel back in 1953, during a time when book burning was actually a thing in the US. It became an instant classic as a meditation on censorship and freedom of expression, much as Orwell’s 1984 is synonymous with pervasive government surveillance. The only adaptation is French director François Truffaut’s 1966 adaption, a film that did become a cult hit but isn’t exactly widely known.
It’s a bit surprising that Fahrenheit 451, one of the best-known and liveliest tales of a potentially bleak future, has yet to be adapted since then. With HBO and Jordan behind it (as star and executive producer), there’s a solid chance we’ll finally see it come to life again and the timing couldn’t be more perfect.