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    SUBJECTS — Science Fiction;
    SOCIAL-EMOTIONAL LEARNING — Alcohol and Drug Abuse;

    Age:12+; No MPAA Rating; Drama; 1966, 112 minutes; Color; Available at Amazon.com.

    Description:     451 degrees Fahrenheit is the temperature at which paper bursts into flame. This adaptation of the classic novel by Ray Bradbury describes a future in which independent thought is discouraged and "firemen" burn books. The population is distracted and sedated by a combination of wall to wall interactive television and mind altering drugs. But one fireman begins to read the books he's supposed to burn....

    Benefits of the Movie:     This movie gets children to think about society from a different vantage point. By showing a sterile civilization in which freedom of thought is taboo and reading books a crime, the film helps children understand the value of books and the benefits of liberty. The role of television and drugs as a means of keeping people focused on thoughtless entertainment is also explored by this movie. (Good readers ages 12 and up should be encouraged to read the book before or after the film. This story merits both reading the book and seeing the movie.)

    Possible Problems:    MINOR. The hero turns his flame thrower on the captain of the fire company.

    Parenting Points:     Your child may be required to read the novel in school and it is important that he or she completes the reading before viewing the film. The movie captures the important ideas of this classic novel of the future. Show the film and then ask and help your child to answer the Quick Discussion Question.


Benefits of the Movie
Possible Problems
Parenting Points
Selected Awards & Cast
Helpful Background
Discussion Questions:
      Subjects (Curriculum Topics)
      Social-Emotional Learning
      Moral-Ethical Emphasis
            (Character Counts)
Bridges to Reading
Links to the Internet
Assignments, Projects & Activities

WORKSHEETS: TWM offers the following worksheets to keep students' minds on the movie and direct them to the lessons that can be learned from the film. Teachers can modify the movie worksheets to fit the needs of each class. See also TWM's Movies as Literature Homework Project.

Additional ideas for lesson plans for this movie can be found at TWM's guide to Lesson Plans Using Film Adaptations of Novels, Short Stories or Plays.

    Selected Awards, Cast and Director:

      Selected Awards:  None.

      Featured Actors:  Oscar Werner, Julie Christie, Cyril Cusack, Anton Diffring.

      Director:  Francois Truffaut.
QUICK DISCUSSION QUESTION:   Which books, even considering those you have read as a child, have played an important role in helping you understand what is going on in the world or in your life.

Suggested Response: You may want to share with your child an experience you have had with reading that shifted your values or caused you to see the world in a new way or even introduced you to people and places that you otherwise knew nothing about.

    Helpful Background:

    None necessary.


    Discussion Questions:

    1.  See Discussion Questions for Use With any Film that is a Work of Fiction.

    2.  Why was the government shown in this film afraid of people reading books?

    3.  What was the reason that this society gave for eliminating books?

    4.   What do you think of the reason the government gave for eliminating books?

    5.  What were the negative effects of the decision by the society shown in the film to eliminate books? What, if any, were the positive effects of that decision?

    6.  What was the role of television in the wife's life?

    7.  This world seems very strange to us, but put yourself back in 1900 and list ten of the most important changes that have occurred since that time. In light of that list, is the society envisioned by this movie so farfetched?

    8.  Compare the role of drugs in Montague's society and alcohol (a mind altering drug) in the former Soviet Union. Did you know that one of the first reforms of Gorbachev, the man responsible for dismantling the Soviet state, was a package of laws designed to discourage the consumption of alcohol?

    9.  What would life be like if there were no books?

    10.  The German poet Heinrich Heine said, "Where books are burned, they will also ultimately burn human beings." What did he mean by this?

    11.  If all of the books that have been written over the centuries suddenly disappeared and all computer memory that had copies of books were destroyed, what would we have lost?

    12.  Did Montague have to kill the captain in order to escape? What is the literary significance of burning the captain?

    13.  There is no real threat in modern society that books will be destroyed wholesale. Instead, certain people and organizations would ban certain books or types of books. Do you agree or disagree with the proposition that banning any book is bad? What about "Mein Kampf?" What about a book that described how to make an atomic bomb and that extolled the misguided ideology of the September 11, 2001 World Trade Center hijackers? What about a book aimed at teenagers that falsely, but convincingly, argued that a dangerous drug, for example Ecstasy, could be taken without a risk of harmful effects? If you come out on the side of banning any books, describe who would set the criteria to determine which books should be banned and who would decide if, for any particular book those criteria applied.

Select questions that are appropriate for your students.

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For English Language Arts classes, distribute TWM's Film Study Worksheet. Teachers can modify the worksheet to fit the needs of each class. Ask students to fill out the worksheet as they watch the film or at the film's end.

Click here for TWM's lesson plans to introduce cinematic and theatrical technique.

BUILDING VOCABULARY: Fahrenheit, Celsius, censorship.

    Social-Emotional Learning Discussion Questions:

    See Handout on Alcohol and How it Affects Us

    1.  Why did the society shown in this film supply the wife with drugs?

    2.  What was the role of television and drugs in the society shown in this film and how did they support each other?

    3.  How would interactive computer games fit into the world of "Fahrenheit 451"?


Reminder to Teachers: Obtain all required permissions from your school administration before showing any film.

Teachers who want parental permission to show this movie can use TWM's Movie Permission Slip.

    Moral-Ethical Emphasis Discussion Questions (Character Counts)

    Discussion Questions Relating to Ethical Issues will facilitate the use of this film to teach ethical principles and critical viewing. Additional questions are set out below.


    (Treat others with respect; follow the Golden Rule; Be tolerant of differences; Use good manners, not bad language; Be considerate of the feelings of others; Don't threaten, hit or hurt anyone; Deal peacefully with anger, insults and disagreements)

    1.  Did this society respect the opinions of its people? Describe the reasons for your answer.

Teachwithmovies.com is a Character Counts "Six Pillars Partner" and uses The Six Pillars of Character to organize ethical principles.

Character Counts and the Six Pillars of Character are marks of the CHARACTER COUNTS! Coalition, a project of the Josephson Institute of Ethics.


    Bridges to Reading: The movie is good but the novel is better. Fahrenheit 451 is one of the classics of science fiction literature suitable for capable readers aged 12 and over. We suggest that parents read the book at the same time as their child and discuss the various themes presented in the book.

    Adult science fiction suitable for adolescent readers include: Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card and Earthchild by Sharon Webb. For a list of science fiction books written in the late 19th and early 20th centuries by Jules Verne, see Learning Guide to "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea". For science fiction books dealing with time travel, see Learning Guide to "The Time Machine". For science fiction books dealing with space travel, see Learning Guide to Apollo 13.
  Give us your feedback! Was the Guide helpful? If so, which sections were most helpful? Do you have any suggestions for improvement? Email us!

MOVIES ON RELATED TOPICS: See films listed in the Subject Matter Index under the Science Fiction category.

    Links to the Internet:

    • There are a number of discussion groups and exchanges of ideas by students and teachers regarding Fahrenheit 451 on the Web. They can be obtained by searching under the title of the book.



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