Oh, you know exactly the boy I’m talking about.
The very sweet (and very cute) boy who has always been more popular or outgoing than you…and, somehow, your assigned seats are right next to each other. You know that he is not a hard worker, even though he’s smart- he simply uses his charm to get by. And, that’s how he gets you. And that’s how Michael B. Jordan’s adaptation of Montag first got me.
But, let me start from the beginning.
Now I, like any good nerd, knows that books will always be better than their movie adaptations, but because Michael B. Jordan is so well read (he had dinner with Malcolm Gladwell, for goodness sake!)- I thought F451 would hold pretty true to its literary original. NOPE. Unfortunately, this movie didn’t give Montag the depth that he needed to truly show his hero journey. What viewers got was a glazed over version of Montag’s journey with words and himself. Here are the biggest changes that made me throw post-it notes at the TV screen:
- Beatty As A Father Figure
There are plenty of moments in the movie where Beatty teeters between being a father figure and an overseer to Montag. Not sure if that’s because this is ultimately a juxtaposition between black and white men- or if we were supposed to buy into their relationship. Beatty also called him his “brother” at various points and I was just…confused. Beatty was supposed to be his tortured boss- and that’s it. I can see how deepening their relationship could further invest us, but this attempt fell short for me.
- Clarisse As A Love Interest
NO, NO, NO. Clarisse is supposed to be an annoying teenage from next door who makes Montag think about life just because she talks so damn much. She, along with her family, are supposed to be the standouts in society who doesn’t care what anyone thinks- and the movie should have kept her the kid rebel that she was. Not some traitor adult playing the harmonica in the slums. Also, she was the perfect juxtaposition to Montag’s wife in the book because she was so lively and intelligent and Mildred was so- blah.
- Montag’s Frustrating Attempts To Interpret The Text
Where was Denham’s Dentrifice in the movie?! Can someone please tell me? Also, the monologue about the sieve and the sand was so watered down that the audience never gets to fully understand the metaphor of his struggle with books. Everyone keeps saying to him how difficult it must be to read the text, but we can’t see it!!!! We see his adorable eyebrows furrow to try and understand in, like, maybe two scenes, but that’s it. I wanted to see the struggle- because it was an intense thing for him to overcome in the novel.
Montag DiesOk, there’s really no way of knowing that for sure in the movie. But, he did in the last moments appear to sacrifice himself- and I just can’t. It was supposed to be Clarisse, fam. Not my boy. Not Montag.
All in all, HBO’s Guy Montag seemed to be the guy that didn’t care much for WHY books were so important, or HOW the interpretation of the text can change your life. And, since he had a love interest giving him all the answers without teaching him anything, he never really learned. In the end, he ended up sacrificing himself for love, NOT books.