New Video: Ray Bradbury on F451, education, life passions, and humanity’s destiny in space
Macmillan, the publishing giant, has just made available an absolutely wonderful new video interview with Ray Bradbury as a marketing adjunct for the release of the new graphic novel adaptation of his Fahrenheit 451, for which he wrote the introduction.
(See “Graphic novel of ‘Fahrenheit 451’ sparks Bradbury’s approval,” USA Today, Aug. 3. You can also read and/or listen to the NPR story about this publishing event; air date: one week ago.)
There’s a long version of the video (13 minutes) and a short one (just under two minutes). I recommend the long one. Ray is a very old man now — he’ll reach 89 later this month, two days before I reach 39 — and he suffered a stroke in the late 90s, and these are both evident as he speaks. But danged if he’s not still the same fiery, passionate, brilliant, charming guy who’s been ranting about his epic loves and hates for over 50 years now, and the long video displays this in vivid detail.
- Ray’s retelling of the stories, which he’s told a thousand times (without their ever growing old), about his boyhood love of Buck Rogers and Tarzan comics, and of his fateful meeting with Mr. Electrico at a carnival, which earned him the talismanic admonition to “Live forever!
- His morning “theater of the mind” (which he has also talked about for decades), in which characters and metaphors zoom through his head when he first wakes up, after which he channels them into his stories.
- His thoughts on the creative process of collaborating with filmmakers, graphic novelists, play directors, etc. He says Truffaut ruined F451 in the original film adaptation by, among other things, ruining the character of Clarisse McLellan.
- His account of finally overcoming his fear of flying some years ago when he convinced Disney to fly him home from the opening of Epcot Center — a feat he accomplished by demanding that Disney “pour three double martinis” down him first, after which he says they “poured me into the plane.”
- His update about the status of the planned new film adaptation of F451. He says the script is ready and director Frank Darabont is “a good friend,” so he’s convinced the film will happen. But he points out that Mel Gibson, who backed out a few years ago to make The Passion of the Christ, still owns the rights and is refusing to fund the project. Bradbury points out that Gibson is “a very rich man,” since he made $500 million from “his Jesus movie.” Ray describes the current situation, in which he and Darabont have to go looking for money, as “stupid,” even as he expresses optimism about the final outcome.
- His assertion that America’s problems will all work themselves out if we devote ourselves to figuring out how to teach reading effectively to early-aged children.
- His all-encompassing life prescription to “do what you love and love what you do.”
- His assertion, still vibrant in full force after many decades, that the human race’s future is among the stars, and that we absolutely must return to the moon, and then colonize Mars, and then move outward and onward.
This guy is a force of nature. His very persona and personage have become for me inextricably intertwined with his work, to the point where each reinforces the other, in the same same way that it is with Lovecraft, Ligotti, Nietzsche, and a number of my other literary lights. God bless ya, Ray.