A Selection Of Cultural Works Inspired by Ray Bradbury’s Words

It’s been a sad few weeks in the literary world—following the passings of Maurice Sendak and Carlos Fuentes last month, we begin June by mourning the passing of poet, short story author, screenwriter, novelist and general sci-fi giant/master of the alien and sinister, Ray Bradbury, who passed away yesterday at the age of 91. 

Bradbury left an indelible mark on the literary and entertainment worlds thanks to his vivid imagination, eerie ability to predict the future and long, varied and prolific career. Here are just a few of the myriad examples of how Bradbury’s works have lived on off the page, on the big screen, small screen and in song. 

Fahrenheit 451

Several adaptations and iterations exist of Bradbury’s most important (and frequently challenged in schools) novel, Fahrenheit 451, the author’s spinning of a dystopian future in which dissent is virtually nonexistent and books are burned en masse. The most iconic of these is François Truffaut’s 1966 adaptation, the only film the French New Wave legend ever made in English. It won several awards, and the general approval of the author. 

The novel was later rearticulated as Michael Moore’s firebrand 2004 documentary, Fahrenheit 9/11, a much-discussed and provocative look at America during the beginnings of the War on Terror. The tagline, lifted directly from the one for Bradbury’s novel, was "The Temperature at Which Freedom Burns." 

Something Wicked This Way Comes

 Walt Disney adapted the haunted-carnival story and Halloween staple into a 1983 film starring Jonathan Pryce and Jason Robards. It flopped at the box office but was up for many major sci-fi awards, not to mention providing a whole lot of nightmare fuel for a generation of American children. 

In the novel, two teenage boys have a run-in with an alluring but terrifying traveling carnival that turns the town upside down. In the South Park episode "Something Wall-Mart This Way Comes," a certain sinister department store assumes the role. 

The Shakespearean title of the work appears in a number of album titles and songs, ranging from heavy metal to Britrock and acid jazz. It appears as the chorus on this track from 2Pac’s debut album, 2Pacalypse Now

The Martian Chronicles

Bradbury’s alien-encounter epic series was turned into a three-part miniseries in 1980 and sported an all-star cast, including Roddy McDowell, Rock Hudson and Bernadette Peters. The script deviated quite a bit from the novel, but more importantly, we had no idea Mars looked so much like a Hollywood soundstage littered with leftover props from the Stonehenge scene from This Is Spinal Tap

Short Stories

Giant-head wearing master of the turntables Deadmau5 crafted his single, "The Veldt," based on a Bradbury short story of the same name. In the story, two parents who build their children a freakish nursery replicated after the African savannah, complete with robotic lions, end up becoming victims of their own creation. You probably would not have guessed that had you just listened to the deadmau5 track, though. 

If any band would be major fans of Ray Bradbury, it pretty much had to be Rush, now, didn’t it? In 1984, the Canadian prog-rockers released "The Body Electric," which borrows its name from a Bradbury short story, "I Sing The Body Electric" (which in turn, borrows its name from a Walt Whitman poem… how meta) as well as some thematic elements (the plot about humanoid robots). 

One of Elton John’s greatest hits, "Rocket Man (And I Think It’s Going To Be a Long, Long Time)" echoes the plot of Bradbury’s short story, The Rocket Man, in which an astronaut experiences a case of the "grass is always greener" syndrome and misses his wife and family while in space. 

The Man and His Life

For a bonus entry, here is Rachel Bloom’s 90th birthday tribute to the man and his literature: "Fuck Me, Ray Bradbury." This hilarious—but NSFW—tribute includes couplets like, "You write about Earthlings going to Mars / I write about blowing you in my car." Whoa. 

F*ck Me, Ray Bradbury – watch more funny videos      

Lost Truffaut Interview — Advice to Filmmakers: Skip School, Don’t Work On Set

The New Yorker just posted an interview with famed French New Wave director Francois Truffaut, taken in 1984, shortly before the auteur’s death. The interview — the last Truffaut ever gave — originally appeared in the book Action! Interviews with Directors from Classical Hollywood to Contemporary Iran, but is now available for the first time online, and is certainly worth a look. Trauffaut discusses everything from his childhood (“I’d skip school regularly to see movies”), to The 400 Blows (“a rather pessimistic film”) to why aspiring filmmakers can learn more from watching films than from working on set as assistants (“sent on errands while the important stuff is taking place…”) — good advice for anyone ages 18 to 30, currently living in Hollywood.

Truffaut started as a critic, and perhaps the freshest stuff here are his takes on other filmmakers, like Roberto Rosselini, whose greatest strength was to “completely ignore the mechanical and technical aspects of making a film,” and Jean Renoir, who was Truffaut’s hero. If nothing else, the interviewer will send you directly to Netflix, eager to watch Jules and Jim for the hundredth time.

Iconic Images of the French New Wave

To coincide with the much-ballyhooed 50th anniversary of Jean-Luc Godard’s Breathless, the James Hyman Gallery in London is honoring one of the French New Wave’s most intimate chroniclers. Raymond Cauchetier spent nearly a decade working as an on-set photographer for the likes of Godard, Truffaut, Rivette, et al, and while his name might not be well-known, his images are some of the most familiar in film history.

A self-taught photographer, Cauchetier began taking pictures while serving in the air force in Indochina. Upon his return to France, he’d hoped to land work as a photojournalist, but when none was forthcoming he took a low-paying job from a first-time filmmaker. “Godard was very cold,” Cauchetier told the Guardian of his experience working on Breathless. “Nobody thought that the film would be presentable… And then the miracle happened. The rest is history.”

Cauchetier went on to document such seminal films as François Truffaut’s Jules et Jim, Jacques Demy’s Lola, Jean-Pierre Melville’s Léon Morin, Prêtre, and Godard’s Une Femme Est Une Femme. In a 2009 profile of Cauchetier, Aperture magazine rightly called his photographs “themselves central works of the New Wave.”






La Nouvelle Vague. Iconic New Wave Photographs by Raymond Cauchetier opens Wednesday and runs through August 28th.