Great Moments in Cinema, XIV

THE CAPTAIN: Listen to me, Montag. Once to each fireman, at least once in his career, he just itches to know what these books are all about. He just aches to know, isn’t that so? Well take my word for it, Montag, there’s nothing there. The books have nothing to say! Look, these are all novels. All about people that never existed. The people that read them, it makes them unhappy with their own lives, makes them want to live in other ways they can never really be [….] Go on, Montag. All this philosophy, let’s get rid of it. It’s even worse than the novels. Thinkers, philosophers, all of them saying exactly the same thing: “Only I am right, the others are all idiots.” One century, they’ll tell you man’s destiny is predetermined. The next, they’ll say that he has freedom of choice. No, it’s just a matter of fashion, that’s all,  philosophy, just like short dresses this year, long dresses next year. Look. All stories of the dead. Biography, that’s called. And autobiography. My life, my diary, my memoirs, my intimate memoirs. Of course, when they started out, well, it was just the urge to write. Then after the second or third book, all they wanted was to satisfy their own vanity. To stand out from the crowd, to be different. To be able to look down on all the others. Ah, critic’s prize. Ah, this is a good one. Of course, he had the critics on his side, lucky fellow. Just tell me this, Montag, at a guess: How many literary awards would you say were made in this country, on an average each year? Five, ten, forty? Hmm? No less than one thousand two hundred! Why anybody that put pen to paper was bound to win some prize someday. Ah, Robinson Crusoe. The negroes didn’t like that because of his man, Friday. And Nietzsche. Ah, Nietzsche. The Jews didn’t like Nietzsche. Now, here’s a book about lung cancer. You see, all the cigarette smokers got into a panic, so for everybody’s peace of mind, we burn it. Ah, now this one must be very profound. The Ethics of Aristotle. Now anybody that read that must believe he’s a cut above anybody that hadn’t. You see, it’s no good, Montag. We’ve all got to be alike. The only way to be happy is for everyone to be made equal. So, we must burn the books, Montag. — [holds up a copy of Mein Kampf] All the books. — Fahrenheit 451