When Kevin Hellions chose this as a book club selection, I had wanted to return to it for some time. I always feel guilty about re-reading something when I have so many books to read in the first place. Fahrenheit 451 was the first book that I fell in love with outside of high school. Granted, my first trip through Bradbury’s writing came in my sophomore year of high school, where my English teacher, Mr. Cassavaugh – who strangely looked like an aged Abraham Lincoln – assigned us Something Wicked This Way Comes. This was my first indication that books could be fun; that through the muck of heavy handed and hard to read literature, there was some good stuff out there.
Fast forward a couple of years later, and as a Christmas present from my first girlfriend, I received a copy of Kurt Cobain’s journals and Fahrenheit 451. I had asked for it, and I can’t quite remember why, but I was anxious to read it. When I got through it, I guess you could say, I had a profound realization, that books were important, that they could heal and preserve the human experience. Being able to revisit that has become a blessing in many ways.
In short, the book is about Guy Montag, a fireman who as fireman do, burn books. Bradbury never goes in depth as to how this society came this way, but this haunting action runs throughout the book. Montag meets a few people that force him to call into question the career path he’s chosen. The book has an interesting ending, and one that see’s a group of people, preserving the future in the only way they know how.
The formation of Fahrenheit 451 is as interesting as the book itself; it started out as a number of short stories that were eventually pulled together into the novel. More so is the books message, we’ve seen a tiny part of the world turn into this monster that inhabits the book, and the man at the top, Chief Beatty, is it’s version of Hitler. This is the type of book that makes you wonder what we lost in the library at Alexandria.
It also doesn’t paint Television in a healthy light either as the forgetful replacement for the family. The relevancy of this novel, amazingly 50 plus years later is staggering. TV has certainly dominated the landscape, books have often become decorative items, and book publishers are in all types of trouble. In that sense, Bradbury has written a modern day horror in the past.
It should also be noted that this was selected as, days before Ray Bradbury’s death, I blame Kevin Hellions for it. You incidental killer, you!
The movie portion of the club was reserved for Enter the Dragon, the seminal film that introduced many to Bruce Lee. As I was growing up, I became obsessed with video games like Street Fighter and Mortal Kombat. I also loved the Van Dam film The Quest, despite most people’s amassing hatred for it. Little did I know how much those games and films borrowed from ETD.
First off, this is a very 70’s film, but it’s not bad like a black-sploitation film or other campy piles of crap from that decade. This film has a great story, great action, and the martial arts sequences are phenomenal, as they are choreographed by Lee himself. Bruce Lee also revised much of the script himself, but Enter the Dragon‘s greatest achievement, aside from being Hollywood’s first Kung Fu movie, is it’s depiction of Chinese culture, which Lee wanted more than anything else with this film.
I’m not going to spoil this movie with a synopsis, it’s one that you truly have to watch and discover how magical Bruce Lee was on the screen. One should also note that Lee kicks Jackie Chan’s ass as well.
All in all, a great month for the “Been Meaning To” club, next month will be just as fantastic!