The first official trailer for HBO’s upcoming adaptation of Ray Bradbury’s classic sci-fi novel Fahrenheit 451 has been released, and it looks to feature a pair of fiery performances from Michael B. Jordan and Michael Shannon. The trailer comes at an opportune time for HBO, as Jordan is currently riding high thanks to the commercial and critical success of Black Panther. So far, Jordan’s role as Erik Killmonger has been the source of much of that acclaim, and it looks as though he’ll be following that performance with an equally impassioned one when Fahrenheit 451 premieres later this year.
Directed and written by Ramin Bahrani, this new adaptation looks to take viewers into a bleak possible future, proving once again just how timeless Bradbury’s writing can be. The trailer consists primarily of a monologue by Shannon’s Beatty, extolling the virtues of the book burning firemen, the chosen profession of he and Jordan’s Guy Montag. It’s an unsettling speech made more so by the sheer force of Shannon’s characteristic intensity.
But in addition to establishing the tone of the film, the trailer also affords an extended look at the production design, which presents a stark future landscape that’s in keeping with genre work we’ve seen recently. There are hints of both Blade Runner and Altered Carbon peppered throughout, in both the set design and the nighttime shots of the skyline, though they both appear toned down considerably. It’s a smart decision that maximizes the discomfiting plausibility of this particular dystopia.
Shannon essentially dominates the trailer, but there’s still a lot to look forward to from both Jordan and co-star Sofia Boutella. Though the latter is relegated to a blink-and-you’ll-miss-her shot, anyone who’s read the novel knows the importance of her character Clarisse McClellan and the role she plays in Montag’s arc. The trailer saves the best shot of Jordan for last, using a fierce line read of “I want to burn” to leave audiences wanting more.
The trailer essentially turns Farentheit 451 into a must-see film for 2018, but it also creates an interesting comparison with Hulu’s The Handmaid’s Tale, another adaptation of a novel set in dystopian future. Those stories are very much in vogue right now, and given the positive critical reception and awards love Handmaid’s received, one has to wonder if HBO has something similar on its hands.
Fahrenheit 451 will premiere on HBO later this year.