The film's credits are spoken, not read, in keeping with the film's theme of destruction of reading material.
Oskar Werner cut his hair for the final scene to purposely create a continuity error. This was due to his hatred for the director.
According to producer Lewis M. Allen, François Truffaut and Oskar Werner hated each other by the end of filming. For the last two weeks, they didn't speak to one another.
The location filming of the final sequence with the "Book People" took place in poor weather. It was hoped the weather would improve for the final days of shooting. Instead, they discovered that it had begun snowing during the night. The presence of snow in the final shots were an unplanned contribution to the film's memorable ending.
Producer Lewis M. Allen said the studio's legal department requested that only books in the public domain be shown burning, for fear of being sued by offended authors. Director François Truffaut and Allen ignored the request, believing that anyone would be flattered to have their book included.
François Truffaut reportedly said that he found science fiction films uninteresting and arbitrary. Because of this, a friend of his told him the story of Ray Bradbury's novel 'Fahrenheit 451'. Immediately afterward, Truffaut wanted to make a film from the novel and subsequently spent years raising the financing.
Author Ray Bradbury never did any fact-checking in regards to the title. He asked a fire chief temperature where book paper burned, and was given the answer "451 degrees Fahrenheit." He liked the title so much, he didn't bother to see if it was the correct temperature. Actually, the chief went to burn an actual book, because he didn't know the answer when Bradbury asked him; he read the temperature with a thermometer.
The monorail featured in the film had been built in France in 1959 by the SAFEGE consortium as a test track. It was dismantled shortly after filming.
François Truffaut said that this was his only film in which he clashed with an actor -- Oskar Werner. Truffaut asked Werner to forgo heroics and act with a level of modesty, but Werner chose to play it with arrogance. Truffaut disliked the stilted performance Werner gave and insisted he play it like a monkey discovering books for the first time, sniffing at them, wondering what they are. Werner argued that a science fiction film called for a robot-like performance.
Other than the contraband books, there are no written words in this film up until the end credits.
The scene where the fireman first puts on his gloves and helmet is shown backwards. The same footage is used again later, forwards, to show him taking off his gear.
During the filming of the scene where the woman's house is being burned, Oskar Werner refused to have anything to do with flames. François Truffaut said he must have known there would be flames because he was playing a fireman. But Werner wouldn't appear in the scene, so they had to use a double. [Ref: Nic Roeg (director of photography) in 80-Minute Documentary on François Truffaut: "The Man Who Loved Cinema, Part Two: Love & Death" 10:20]
François Truffaut became so frustrated with Oskar Werner he later declared that if he hadn't wasted six years attempting to make the film, he would have left the set like a shot.
Among the books burned by the firemen is the film journal "Cahiers du Cinema" for which director François Truffaut was a writer. Pictured on the cover is a picture from Breathless (1960), written by Truffaut. Also among the books burned is "The Martian Chronicles" and "Fahrenheit 451" itself, both written by Ray Bradbury.
The first and only English language film for director François Truffaut.
François Truffaut's first film in color.
According to producer Lewis M. Allen, it was his last-minute idea to have Julie Christie play both main female roles. Allen says Terence Stamp then withdrew from playing Montag because Stamp felt that with two parts, Christie would overshadow him.
Terence Stamp was originally cast as Montag, but dropped out because he was uneasy at co-starring with Julie Christie, his former lover, and because he felt that Christie's appearing in dual roles would overshadow him. François Truffaut then cast Oskar Werner, the star of his classic Jules and Jim (1962), despite the fact that the film was set in England, and Werner's accent and demeanor were decidedly non-English. Truffaut came to regret his choice. He became dismayed by Werner's interpretation of the character, and the two frequently clashed.
Director François Truffaut was so eager to begin filming that he and co-writer Jean-Louis Richard wrote the screenplay before they had fully mastered English. Ultimately, Truffaut was disappointed in the awkward, stilted English-language dialogue; he was much happier with the French-dubbed version, which he supervised.
In a 1973 interview in "Focus on Film" François Truffaut stated that Julie Christie had a "breakdown" during filming, but the insurance company wouldn't cover her.
Truffaut originally wanted Tippi Hedren and Jean Seberg to play the parts of Linda Montag and Clarisse. However, Alfred Hitchcock told Truffaut that Hedren was not available to work with him, and Seberg was considered "not bankable enough" by the producers, so Julie Christie was cast instead in both parts.
While shooting in London, Truffaut felt no rapport with the English crew (since he spoke only French), so when not on set he stayed in his hotel room for the six months of the shoot, having all his meals sent up. When he got back to Paris, his friends asked him what swinging London was like and he answered, "I don't know - I just got out of the Hilton."
Most of the books being burned are classics with the exception of a crossword puzzle book and issues of Mad Magazine and Cahiers du Cinéma.
According to producer Lewis M. Allen, François Truffaut spoke virtually no English, and the cast and crew mostly English.
In the scene where the middle aged woman is burned alive, one of the last images we see from the books that are burning is what looks like Joan of Arc, who also burned alive for her convictions.
Books shown or mentioned in the movie: Don Quixote - Othello, the Moor of Venice - Vanity Fair - Madame Bovary - Le monde a coté - Alice's Adventures in Wonderland & Through the Looking-Glass - Gaspard Hauser - Robinson Crusoe - The World of Salvador Dali - Jeanne d'Arc - Life and Loves - The Weather - My Autobiography by Charles Chaplin - Les negres - Confessions of an Irish Rebel - The Ginger Man - Petrouchka - The Catcher In The Rye - The Moon and Sixpence - Lolita - David Copperfield - Mein Kampf - She Might Have Been Queen - Social Aspects of Disease - The Ethics of Aristotle - The Brothers Karamazov - The Sorrows of Young Werther - The Martian Chronicles - Plato's Republic - Fahrenheit 451 - Pride and Prejudice - Gone with the Wind - Animal Farm - No Orchids for Miss Blandish - Jane Eyre - Moby Dick - The Picture of Dorian Gray - The Adventures of Tom Sawyer - The Trial.
François Truffaut and Oskar Werner died within two days of each other in October 1984. Truffaut was 52 and Werner was 62.
Julie Christie agreed to star in this film for $200,000. Her asking price at the time was $400,000.
Although film editor Thom Noble speculates on the DVD that the books burned in the film's fire sequences were all director François Truffaut's, the director actually solicited paperbacks from grips, electricians and other crew members working on the film because he felt that well-worn, dogeared copies achieved the effect he wanted to convey.
Mel Gibson had planned to direct a remake, which Frank Darabont scripted. It was intended to be a Tom Cruise or Brad Pitt vehicle, but the project never moved ahead.
Many of the books burned during the movie were director François Truffaut's favorites. Producer Lewis M. Allen says that it's possible that Truffaut himself brought the books.
The film showed the widescreen television sets with design elements which are common today: the aspect ratio of16:9 along with sharp corners and flat panel.
Though the title of the film comes from the (supposed) exact temperature at which paper catches fire, according to a fireman to whom Ray Bradbury posed the question, the actuall temperature refers to the auto-ignition temperature (the temperature at which paper burns without being touched to flame), and the exact temperature varies according to the type of paper, its age, and several other factors.
Marlon Brando, Paul Newman, Jean-Paul Belmondo, Charles Aznavour, Peter O'Toole, and Terence Stamp were all considered for the role of Montag.
The text-less opening credits were originally spoken by actress Gillian Lewis, who appears later in the film as the television host "Cousin". Truffaut decided later to replace her track with a masculine voice, and recorded actor Alex Scott who portrays the leader of the Book People. It is his voice who remains in the film.
The Book People were largely played by members of the film crew. The blushing blond girl who identifies herself as "The Jewish Question" is costume designer Yvonne Blake.
The first forbidden book Montag reads is Charles Dickens' novel David Copperfield. The child actor Mark Lester plays one of the two schoolboys who runs from Clarisse in fright the day of her dismissal. Lester would come to fame 2 years later playing the lead in Oliver!, a musical based on another Charles Dickens novel, Oliver Twist.
Jane Fonda was offered one of the roles that went to Julie Christie.
The passage about "little Dora" that Montag reads aloud to Philips and the other firemen, which brings one of them to tears, is from David Copperfield by Charles Dickens.
For the part of the captain, producers considered Laurence Olivier, Sterling Hayden, and Michael Redgrave before hiring Cyril Cusack.
Montgomery Clift supposedly also passed on the Guy Montag role.
Anton Diffring is dubbed.
Amongst the actresses considered for the role of Clarisse/Linda Montag was Jean Seberg.
In the scene where Montag and his wife are lying in bed, he is "reading" about the Ku Klux Klan (KKK) in the newspaper/comic book. (19:28)
Cameo or easter egg: One of the Book Men introduces himself as Ray Bradbury's Martian Chronicles