There’s a scene in The 400 Blows where young Antoine Doinel is punished for plagiarizing a passage from Balzac. Antoine, who is so devoted to Balzac that he makes a candlelit shrine to the writer in his bedroom, almost certainly meant his school assignment as an homage, not as a cheat. Antoine is a fitting cinematic analogue for the film’s director, FRANÇOIS TRUFFAUT (1932–1984), a man who spent a significant portion of his career making literary homages of his own. His Jules and Jim, Such a Gorgeous Kid Like Me, The Bride Wore Black, Mississippi Mermaid, Two English Girls, Shoot the Piano Player, and Confidentially Yours were based on novels that captivated Truffaut’s imagination. Is it any wonder that this bibliophile auteur was drawn to Fahrenheit 451? Truffaut had a knack for taking the bones of a novel and creating cinematic worlds that were resonant with unspoken truths; having Fahrenheit 451’s opening credits spoken, rather than written, immersed viewers in a world where the lack of literacy would change things both big and small. Nor was Truffaut a slouch in the writing department; his Hitchcock was an acclaimed exploration of that director’s oeuvre and methods. Truffaut loved a good story, no matter what form it took.
READ MORE about members of the Postmodernist Generation (1924-33).