Watch Ray Bradbury: Story of a Writer, a 1963 Film That Captures the Creative Process of the Legendary Sci-Fi Author

Sto­ry of a Writer shows all the con­tra­dic­tions the late Ray Brad­bury embod­ied: An unstop­pably curi­ous admir­er of sci­ence and tech­nol­o­gy who some called a “mechan­i­cal moron,” a non-dri­ver in mid­cen­tu­ry Los Ange­les, an imag­in­er of the future who worked in a base­ment crowd­ed with paper files and trib­al masks. We watch the clas­sic IBM mot­to “THINK” catch the 43-year-old writer’s eye, yet we notice anoth­er sign post­ed above his type­writer: “DON’T THINK!” This half-hour tele­vi­sion doc­u­men­tary cap­tures that most instinc­tu­al of crafts­men in the ratio­nal genre of sci­ence fic­tion in all sorts of activ­i­ties ground­ed in his time, place, and pro­fes­sion: telling sto­ries and per­form­ing mag­ic for his daugh­ters, offer­ing guid­ance to younger writ­ers, “work­shop­ping” a piece with a cir­cle of asso­ciates in his liv­ing room, bicy­cling through town to get ideas, and tour­ing a fall­out shel­ter show­ground.

Pro­duced by David L. Wolper, best known for pro­grams like Roots, The Thorn Birds, and This is Elvis, Sto­ry of a Writer inter­weaves with these scenes from Brad­bury’s dai­ly life a jagged­ly cin­e­mat­ic adap­ta­tion of his short sto­ry “Dial Dou­ble Zero.” In it, a man receives a series of unwant­ed phone calls from what even­tu­al­ly starts to sound like the phone sys­tem itself, which has, for unex­plained rea­sons, spon­ta­neous­ly devel­oped intel­li­gence. In Brad­bury’s imag­i­na­tion, tech­nol­o­gy may do trou­bling things, but rarely malev­o­lent ones. “I’ve always been in favor of sci­ence that can pro­long and beau­ti­fy our lives,” he says in voiceover. The broad­cast even includes one of Brad­bury’s many plain­spo­ken but enthu­si­as­tic lec­tures about the craft of writ­ing, which has much in com­mon with his sim­i­lar­ly themed 2001 speech pre­vi­ous­ly fea­tured on Open Cul­ture. As he sums up his rec­om­men­da­tions to aspi­rants con­cerned about the qual­i­ty of their work: “It does­n’t have to be the great­est. It does have to be you.”

You can find Ray Brad­bury: Sto­ry of a Writer list­ed in our col­lec­tion, 4,000+ Free Movies Online: Great Clas­sics, Indies, Noir, West­erns, Doc­u­men­taries & More.

via The Atlantic

Relat­ed con­tent:

Ray Brad­bury: Lit­er­a­ture is the Safe­ty Valve of Civ­i­liza­tion

Ray Brad­bury Gives 12 Pieces of Writ­ing Advice to Young Authors (2001)

Ray Brad­bury Reads Mov­ing Poem on the Eve of NASA’s 1971 Mars Mis­sion

Col­in Mar­shall hosts and pro­duces Note­book on Cities and Cul­ture. Fol­low him on Twit­ter at @colinmarshall.

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  • the unguard­ed sin­cer­i­ty and good faith and decen­cy of it all breaks my heart –

  • joe hoynik says:

    i agree. i read “The fog horn” every now and then , just to remind myself of the beau­ty in Ray’s prose, sim­ple mes­sage that love is the most force­ful dri­ving force there is, among humans , or non humans

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