In a future where books have been outlawed, firemen are paid to burn books instead of put fires out. However, one fireman realizes that what he is doing is wrong and decides to go against the degenerate society he lives in.
I have read reviews of this movie calling it "boring" and "outdated," and frankly I am amazed by how ignorant some people can be. Calling "Fahrenheit 451" outdated simply because the set designs look old and because there are no flashy computer effects shows that you have completely missed the point. The people who made this were not trying to give you a spectacle, they were trying to give you a message - a message that is even more important today than it was when this movie came out.
"Fahrenheit 451" is a fine adaptation of Ray Bradbury's classic novel about censorship. The movie changes many of the book's events, but the spirit of the book is preserved. The cinematography is truly great and the score is quite powerful. The acting is also great. Oskar Werner is right on the money as Montag the fireman. Julie Christie is wonderful playing dual roles as yin and yang: Montag's zombie-like wife, Linda, and Montag's friend, the young and energetic Clarisse. Cyril Cusack is also memorable as the evil Fire Captain Beatty - he isn't a cartoon villain, but a very realistic and human character.
You may think that "Fahrenheit 451" delivers an irrelevant message. You may think that book burning is a thing of the past, a relic of Nazi Germany and Communist Russia. Look around you - book burning happens every day! How do you feel about people trying to ban "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn" because the word "nigger" is used in it? How about whole sections of "Doctor Dolittle" being rewritten so that they are politically correct? Did you know that school textbooks may not make any mention of Mount Rushmore because it is offensive to a certain Indian tribe? Meanwhile, we are watching our giant-screen TVs and listening to our Walkmans (two inventions that were predicted by Bradbury). We are constantly "plugged in" and never take any time to just sit and think. Look around you - Ray Bradbury's story is coming true. I advise you to watch this movie, and to read the book. (Read the book first. You will appreciate the film more.)
I hear that a remake is in the works. No doubt it will be filled with gaudy special effects and silly Hollywood cliches. I guess I should hold off judgment until I actually see it, but I doubt that it will contain any of the genius that can be found in this sadly underrated gem. It will be interesting to see what they do with the mechanical hound, though....