This week (Sept 21-27) has been designated – by those who decide these things – as Banned Book Week, a time to raise awareness of the sometimes ridiculous and always offensive censorship and/or challenges to certain books, usually not because they pose any real threat, but because there are certain aspects of them that cause a certain segment of our population to be uncomfortable.
Of course, that’s quite often the entire purpose of certain works of art, whether they be books, paintings or other visual artworks, or yes, even films. Some of the best artistic creations throughout history have been designed solely for the purpose of either challenging the status quo, or simply challenging peoples’ mind-set.
And, it’s usually those who need just this sort of challenge who stand in opposition to the presentation of those uncomfortable ideas, and the excuse that is most often used is that it’s to “protect our children”.
My own personal response to that is that it’s a shame that your faith in your own teachings and your ability to pass those along to your children is so fragile that it can’t stand up to even the slightest challenge.
Anyway, since this is a movie blog, I thought I’d use this opportunity to mention one of my own personal favorite critiques of the entire idea of censorship and what it does to people, and also a classic of film-making, Francois Truffaut‘s 1966 masterpiece Fahrenheit 451. The film is, of course, an adaptation of the Ray Bradbury story which sees “fireman” Guy Montag begin to question his future society’s idea that all books are evil and should be burned – that is the job of these so-called firemen, to track down and arrest those in possession of books and to burn their caches before they can disseminate them further – and the effect that actually reading a book has on him.
Both the story and the film are classics, and though some may quibble with the change in ending that Truffaut made in the film, I don’t think that it spoils things at all. It is, as happens so often in a book-to-film translation, different.
Here’s the trailer for the movie:
Also, as an added bonus, here’s a short discussion with the late Mr. Bradbury where he shares his own thoughts about both the story and the film:
I’ll just wrap things up quickly here by encouraging you to celebrate Banned Book Week by reading one of the frequently challenged books. Or, for that matter, watching a film that has been censored or challenged, because there have also been plenty of those. The real point is: fight those who would try to tell you what you (or your children) should or shouldn’t read/watch/think. Challenge yourself and them to explore new ideas, and most especially those that might cause some discomfort or might challenge your way of thinking.
Because it’s only when we are confronted with new ideas, that our minds can truly expand.
- The enduring oddness of François Truffaut’s Fahrenheit 451 (thedissolve.com)
- Fahrenheit 451 (1966 film) (turcanin.wordpress.com)
- Googler proposes ‘451′ error code to signal Internet censorship, in honor of Ray Bradbury (digitaltrends.com)
- Review of Scary Book Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (writedge.com)