So, my family and I watched the 2018 HBO version of “Fahrenheit 451” staring Michael B Jordan yesterday, and it was a really good movie…as in, well put together…actually it got a 33% on Rotten Tomatoes, but I liked it. Here’s the deal: If I didn’t know any better (how Hollywood works) I would have missed a huge ironic feature. The changing, editing, or rewriting of history…which is what the book is about.
In this story, the government bans physical books because they want to edit what people think. If people are allowed to read, especially the classics, then they will begin to think for themselves. Anything on the internet can be revised, and there is a group who oversees this, but a physical book is dangerous because you can’t “gaslight” and say, “I never said that.”
It’s a vivid Orwell-esk dystopian future where Michael B. Jordan and Michael Shannon are firemen who start fires to burn books rather than put fires out. They go out on raids and find “graffiti” (books) to burn. They hold school programs where they show children books, and the children gasp. Then they burn the books, and the children sigh in relief.
The IRONY is how the “villains” in the story are the ones who change history, but this movie changes one very HUGE part of the story, and it makes all the difference to the overall meaning.
Near the opening scene they show that only three books are on the approved list (which means they are either inconsequential, or in line with what the villains want). These three books are, “To the Lighthouse,” “Moby Dick,” and “The Holy Bible.” So the Bible is cool with the bad guys in this movie. Interesting point.
In the book and in the movie these firefighters find a woman hiding a library from the government. They are ready to burn it, but the main character, Guy Montag, picks up a book and decides to steal it. And what book he steals says everything about the revisionism going on in our day, what is important to us, and what is sacred in our society.
In the movie, the book that Montag steals is about historical slavery in the U.S. (very important stuff and not to be diminished). This has become the hot button of the 21st century. It is VITAL to know all about racial reconciliation and how we can come together as a society. This is deep and complicated, and must be done. I do wonder, however, if we as a society (even as the Church) have placed the topic of racism, racial reconciliation, and reparations above, or even more important than Scripture.
Why do I say that? In the actual book written in 1953, the book that Montag steals is the BIBLE.
Changing this little detail is a huge statement, not because of the book he picked up, but because of the book they chose to have him NOT pick up. Why is this a big deal? What does it matter which book he picks up and takes with him? It says everything about what the author was trying to convey.
In effect, the HBO 2018 release shows how the Bible is okay with the villains, or at the very least, inconsequential, and not a threat to their evil society. It is on their “approved book list,” and if the villains are cool with it, then I should be against it. This is subtle and subconscious, but it plants a seed.
In the 1953 version, however, the Holy Bible was outlawed for the same reasons that all other books were outlawed…they were too dangerous to be read because they cause free thought about truth and reality and the meaning of life.
This is a simple, yet profound undercut to the Bible.
As important as understanding U.S. history and the atrocities of our past are, the Biblical story supersedes all other narratives. The Bible is the META NARRATIVE of all reality. It’s the BIG PICTURE. It holds everything from the horrible decisions made by our first earthly parents, to the the hope of humanity’s future eternal destinies, and at the center of it all is Jesus Christ, the savior of our souls and the only one who can bring about true justice. The Bible doesn’t give us only the grievances of the past, but it also gives us a Blessed Hope for the future. It has all the answers.
The Bible has endured more than any other book in history, from the tyranny of Roman suppression, to Nazi book burnings that tried to snuff it out. It is the most translated book, and the best seller of all time to this day. It was the cause for the invention of the printing press by Johannes Gutenberg, it continues to be smuggled into closed countries, and it flows into the hands and transforms the hearts of people all around the world. Ultimately, it is the only true answer for racism.
If any book is dangerous, it is the Bible. If any tyrannical government would want to control people, they would do good to try to eliminate the Bible. It is just too powerful. It has all the answers.
So the 21st Century version burning this book is much more deceptive and devious. It’s done through narrative pathos. You’d have to make other important issues superior to the message of the Bible, and therefore, sideline it. You’d have to make the Bible look like the villain, the oppressor, the system of controls, and “the man,” rather than the hope that it is. You’d have to subtly slip that message into movies and make those who look to this book for life’s answers the villain, the oppressor, the ones who use it as a system of controls. Make Christians “the man,” and this “man” must be resisted at all cost. This is how you can rewrite history, and exchange the hero for the villain.
And that is the IRONY of the HBO 2018 version of Fahrenheit 451…originally a book about revising history…that takes the Bible, considered dangerous in the original version….and place it in the hands of the villains in the 2018 version…villains who must be resisted at all cost.
Well Mikey, do you hate the movie, then?
No. I love it actually.
I noticed their propaganda.
I understand their propaganda.
I have thoroughly contemplated their propaganda
I consciously REFUSE to receive their propaganda.
And I now enjoy the film, disregarding their propaganda altogether, and restoring it to its original point.