There’s no specific release date yet for HBO’s Fahrenheit 451, an adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s 1953 novel about a future dystopia where books are illegal, and “firemen” are special operatives who find them and burn them. But the network has just released the first full trailer for the film. With Black Panther still setting box office records, the timing is just right: Fahrenheit 451 stars Michael B. Jordan, currently on-screen as Black Panther’s memorable, celebrated villain Erik Killmonger, and his role in the new film channels a similar mesmerizing ferocity and idealism. Jordan plays protagonist Guy Montag, a dedicated fireman who begins to have doubts about his profession, and about the government that has outlawed books as inherently dangerous because they preserve and communicate ideas.
Bradbury’s book is simultaneously caustic and melancholy. It’s a classic takedown of censorship and a gently frustrated prediction of a future where people are so absorbed into their entertainment that they don’t care about the world outside their screens. (Director Ramin Bahrani, of 99 Homes and Chop Shop, says he always regarded the book as “prophetic.”) But this trailer is all fire: the literal fire of books burning, obviously, but also the metaphorical fire of Guy’s initial fanaticism, and the self-righteous fury of his supervisor Captain Beatty, played by The Shape of Water villain Michael Shannon. There’s nothing melancholy or removed about this sneak peek, which suggests HBO’s film is going to be direct, angry, forceful, and just as politically charged as the original book. It’s set for release in May.