There is still no specific release date for HBO's Fahrenheit 451, an adaptation of Ray Bradbury's 1953 novel about a future dystopia where books are illegal, and "firemen" are special agents who find and burn them. But the network has just released the first full trailer of the movie. With Black Panther still setting box office records, the timing is right: Fahrenheit 451 stars Michael B. Jordan, currently on screen as the famous Black Panther villain, Erik Killmonger, and his role in the new movie channels a similar hypnotizing ferocity and idealism. Jordan plays the protagonist Guy Montag, a dedicated firefighter who begins to have doubts about his profession, and about the government that has banned books as intrinsically dangerous because they preserve and communicate ideas.
Bradbury's book is simultaneously caustic and melancholy. It is a classic demolition of censorship and a frustrated prediction of a future where people are so engrossed in their entertainment that they do not care about the world that is off their screens. (Director Ramin Bahrani of 99 Homes and Chop Shop says he always considered the book "prophetic.") But this trailer is all fire: the literal fire of the burned books, obviously, but also the metaphorical fire of Guy's initial fanaticism, and the self-justified fury of his supervisor, Captain Beatty, played by the villain of The Shape of Water, Michael Shannon. There is nothing melancholic or eliminated in this advancement, which suggests that the HBO film will be direct, angry, energetic and just as politically charged as the original book. It is scheduled for release in May.