Saturday, 13 June 2015

Bradbury’s Influence Still Felt

Ray Bradbury has produced works throughout his long life that not only live on in print but also have seen numerous reinventions in comics and mainstream media, often with his direct influence and assistance with the screenplays and filming process. The most recent adaptation is the new ABC network series The Whispers (which you can easily stream with ABC Go or FiOS) based on the short story "Zero Hour" originally published in The Illustrated Man collection. The premise here is of an alien race communicating with and manipulating the children of Earth, as they believe that children under a certain age are still impressionable and can play at games that go largely unnoticed by adults.

Without further ado, here are some of the best Bradbury adaptations of all time:

Fahrenheit 451 (1966)

This classic and controversial film is based on the novel of the same name. In this tale of a dystopian future, firemen are government agents sent out to seek and destroy by burning all existing literature as a means of keeping the general public from getting dangerous and antisocial ideas. The film received mixed reviews, with most of the criticism leveled at the casting choices and acting abilities. Bradbury himself said he was generally pleased with the film, in spite of its flaws. With its strong commentary on the consequences of censorship, this film remains timeless in its relevance.

It Came From Outer Space (1953)

This film was based on a story treatment by Ray Bradbury, rather than a full-fledged short story. Originally and appropriately titled "The Meteor," the resulting film tells the story of an alien spacecraft being at first mistaken for a meteor when it crashes to Earth. The ensuing disappearances of several townspeople causes the town to begin thinking there may be more than just a meteor crash involved. Reviews have been mostly positive since its release, and the film remains popular as another example of humanity's fear and distrust of the unknown.

The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953)

Based on Bradbury's short story "The Fog Horn" and was one of the early films to inspire a generation of similar creature features. The beast is a fictional dinosaur that is awakened from its arctic hibernation by the testing of an atomic bomb in the Arctic Circle. The beast wreaks havoc down the East coast of North America, culminating in its arrival in New York City. Positive reviews for the film after its original release focused mainly on the special effects, which were considered impressive for their time. Fans of the Godzilla series and Cloverfield type of films will enjoy this original.

Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983)

This Disney movie was based on the Bradbury novel of the same name and was filmed from a screenplay that was largely written by Bradbury. It tells of a supernatural carnival that sets up overnight near a small Midwestern town, drawing the attention and curiosity of two young teenaged boys and run by the demonic Mr. Dark, who promises to grant his customers' deepest desires for a price. While the film received generally positive reviews, it was a box office disappointment. Nonetheless, it remains a classic fantasy and horror film worth consideration by connoisseurs of these genres. For fans of the film, there’s been rumors that Disney is angling to remake it, but that’s about all the information that’s been released thus far.

The Ray Bradbury Theatre (1985-1992)

A popular television series hosted by Bradbury himself and featuring many of his own short stories adapted for television. The 65 total episodes were all written by Bradbury, whether adapted from an earlier work or not. Each episode is opened by commentary provided by Bradbury. The Ray Bradbury Theatre anthology remains relevant to fans of Bradbury's written works and to others who simply enjoy stories that make them think or see the world in a different way.

Like all timeless classics, Bradbury's stories and novels speak to some universal part of the human condition, transcending a particular time or place in history and causing his readers to consider their own current societal and behavioral trends. As a writer of horror as well as science fiction and fantasy, he often plays on universal and primal fears and insecurities to achieve this result, but regardless of his methods, he always makes us think.

2 comments:

  1. I've always wanted to read Ray Bradbury but never have, yet the titles of his books are ones I know. One of those authors whose influence is obviously quite wide.

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  2. i just read Fahrenheit 451 and loved it! i haven't watched the movie yet but i badly want to. he's such an inspiration, especially when it comes to writing. :)

    wonderful post!

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