Veteran author Ray Bradbury is demanding an apology from Farenheit 9/11 film-maker Michael Moore for lifting the title from his classic science-fiction novel Fahrenheit 451 without permission.
The 83-year-old science fiction writer wants Fahrenheit 9/11 renamed.
“He didn’t ask my permission,” Bradbury told The Associated Press. “That’s not his novel, that’s not his title, so he shouldn’t have done it.”
Farenheit 451, the 1953 novel, widely considered Bradbury’s masterpiece, portrays an ugly futuristic society in which firefighters burn homes and libraries in order to destroy the books inside and keep people from thinking independently.
It takes its title from the temperature at which books burn. Moore has called Fahrenheit 9/11 the ”temperature at which freedom burns”.
Moore’s film, which won top honours in May at the Cannes Film Festival, accuses the Bush administration of acting ineptly before the September 11 terrorist attacks, then playing on the public’s fear of future terrorism to gain support for the war against Iraq. It opens in the US next Friday.
Bradbury, who has not seen the film, said he called Moore’s company six months ago to protest and was promised Moore would call back.
He finally got that call last Saturday, Bradbury said, adding Moore told him he was “embarrassed”.
“He suddenly realised he’s let too much time go by,” the author said from his home in Los Angeles’ Cheviot Hills.
Joanne Doroshow, a spokeswoman for Fahrenheit 9/11, said the film’s makers had “the utmost respect for Ray Bradbury”.
“Mr Bradbury’s work has been an inspiration to all of us involved in this film, but when you watch this film you will see the fact that the title reflects the facts that the movie explores, the very real life events before, around and after 9-11,” she said.
Bradbury said he would rather avoid litigation and was ”hoping to settle this as two gentlemen, if he’ll shake hands with me and give me back my book and title”.
Moore’s film needed new distributors after Disney refused to let its Miramax subsidiary release it, claiming it was too politically-charged. The documentary was later bought by Miramax bosses Harvey and Bob Weinstein, who lined up Lions Gate and IFC Films to help distribute it.
Bradbury’s book was made into a 1966 film directed by Francois Truffaut.
A new edition of the book is due for release in eight weeks, Bradbury says, and plans are in the works for a new film version, to be directed by Frank Darabont.