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HBO is adapting Fahrenheit 451 into a film starring Michael B. Jordan and Michael Shannon

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‘It was a pleasure to burn’

Yesterday, Variety reported that HBO Films is planning to adapt Ray Bradbury’s classic novel Fahrenheit 451. Michael B. Jordan (Creed) and Michael Shannon (Man of Steel) are set to star in it, while 99 Houses director Ramin Bahrani is attached to co-write and direct the film.

The studio has only put the adaptation into development, but Variety notes that the “project is moving toward a production commitment at HBO.” If it moves forward, Jordan will play Guy Montag, the Fireman at the heart of the story, while Shannon will play his superior, Captain Beatty.

In Fahrenheit 451’s future, books are outlawed, and Firemen like Montag and Beatty are tasked with setting them ablaze to suppress their ideas. When Montag meets an idealistic teenager named Clarisse McClellan, he begins to rethink his work and the society he lives in.

Prior to the book’s publication, Bradbury wrote several stories addressing censorship and book burning as a metaphor for authorities suppressing ideas and politics. One of them was The Fireman, a 1951 story inspired by being stopped on the street and questioned by a police officer. A publisher to ask him to expand the story into a novel, which was published in 1953. Since its release, Fahrenheit 451 has remained an enduring classic for its condemnation of censorship and the suppression of free thought. In 1966, French director François Truffaut released a film adaptation, which has become a cult classic.

Since then, there have been some attempts to produce a new adaptation; Mel Gibson notably held the rights to the book for his own adaptation, but abandoned the project in 1999. But Bradbury’s novel has been largely untouched by Hollywood since Truffaut’s film. Given the flood of dystopian novels adapted for film, such as The Handmaid’s Tale, The Hunger Games, The Giver, and Minority Report, Fahrenheit 451’s absence is notable, given its literary stature. Should HBO move the project into development, it’s a story that will undoubtably generate plenty of discussion about suppressing dissent and reading in a turbulent political climate.