HBO is developing a feature-length adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s famous 1953 novel Fahrenheit 451 starring Michael B. Jordan and Michael Shannon, about a dystopian future where book burning is a national past time. The network’s latest casting announcement indicates what kind of world this adaptation will take place in. Spoilers: It’s ours.
YouTuber Lilly Singh (who goes by Superwoman online) has been cast as a new character named Raven, a vlogger who helps the fire department spread its propaganda by live-streaming book-burning raids. This does indicate that HBO’s version of Fahrenheit 451 will modernize some of the technology from the book to make it more relevant to the 2010s and beyond. Who said (the destruction of) art doesn’t imitate life?
It doesn’t surprise me one bit that HBO’s updating the tale with our own modern brand of consumer culture. However, I will admit it sounds risky— mainly because it runs the risk of “dating” the film in a way the book has managed to avoid. After all, the most important part of Fahrenheit 451 is how timeless it is. The novel’s themes of censorship and the power of ignorance are just as relevant now as they were over 50 years ago, even if ear shells have been replaced with earbuds (okay, touché Bradbury).
Hopefully, HBO will keep those themes intact— even if they’re now on YouTube.