Fahrenheit 451, 1966
Director: François Truffaut
Notable Cast: Julie Christie, Oskar Werner, Cyril Cusack

The most significant difference between Truffaut’s adaptation and the novel is that the film portrays Montag and Clarisse falling in love, and Montag helps Clarisse escape the firemen unharmed. Truffaut’s adaptation is also notable in that Julie Christie plays Clarisse as well as Montag’s wife, thus heightening the dramatic effects of Montag’s internal struggle. Contemporary critics gave the film mixed reviews, finding fault in Truffaut’s direction and Christie’s acting. However, the film has garnered increased acclaim in the decades since its initial release, with more recent critics praising Truffaut’s use of dark humor.

Fahrenheit 451, 2018
Director: Ramin Bahrani
Notable Cast: Michael B. Jordan, Michael Shannon, Sofia Boutella

Updated for the contemporary age, this HBO adaptation is set in a dystopian future America where most reading happens on the internet, and almost all print books have been banned, save for a few drastically simplified classics. Montag joins a group of rebels (the “Eels”) who save books by encoding them in the DNA of birds, and though he successfully contributes to the Eels’ efforts, Montag eventually dies for his involvement. Critics praised Bahrani’s adaptation for its visual appeal and for the lead actors’ performances, but they criticized it for the clunky scriptwriting and overall failure to preserve the novel’s political force and prescience.