TALENT in the cinema, as
in other arts, tends to be rooted in its native soil. Hollywood may be a meltingpot within the melting-pot. but the history of movies is littered, from Garbo's discoverer and director. Maurits Stiller, the great Rent Clair and even Max Ophuls, with the failure to transplant artists and make them thrive.
Latest of these poor travellers seems to be Francois Truffaut, one of the liveliest of post-war French directors. Truffaut's French movies have almost uniformly enchanted both public and critics. whether the sad schoolboy story "Quatre Cent Coups" or the wholly delightful grown-up comedy "Jules et Jim". Now Truffaut's work comes before the British public in Fahrenheit 451 ("A", Leicester Square Theatre).
The story, if what is left can be called a story and not just a situation, is based on a popular piece of science fiction by Ray Bradbury. But M. Truffaut accepts half responsibility for the screenplay.
Call it fantasy or call it science fiction, any work of imagination—especially one set in an imaginary land—needs to be sharp as a diamond and as solid as concrete. This nevernever land, where the national service is burning books and the enemies of the state are those suspected of literacy, never looks like coming to life.
A few clichés of any brave new world—housing shortage. corruption, drugs—are too commonplace and universal to make a particular mark. The promising idea of a small "resistance" group in the birchwoods, who keep literacy alive by the dubious practice of learning whole books by heart. .is used without any sense of the hooks themselves or their values.