MAD MAX: FURY ROAD

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MAD MAX: FURY ROAD. George Miller, dir., producer (one of three), and script, with Brenden McCarthy and Nick Lathouris. Tom Hardy (playing Max Rockatansky), Charlize Theron (Imperator Furiosa), Nicholas Hoult (Nux, a War Boy), and Hugh Keays-Byrne (returning villain, this time as Immortan Joe), featured players. Colin Gibson, production design. Shira Hockman and Jacinta Leong, art direction. Australia and USA: Kennedy Miller Productions, Village Roadshow Pictures (prod.) / Warner Bros. (US dist.), 2015.


MAD MAX BEYOND THUNDERDOME (1985), the third in the initial Mad Max trilogy, ended with Max not riding off into the sunset but schlepping off toward the horizon, and FURY ROAD may be read as one of his later adventures, after the water wars that followed the atomic war that followed the oil wars. Or we're free, indeed invited, to see FURY ROAD as an independent work set in a similar dystopian world with Max and a resurrected (with pun) villain. Like 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY (1968), FURY ROAD is something of an exercise in pure cinema: sight and sound foregrounded, presenting to us folklore motifs so basic as to be Archetypal. As in 2001, there's a classic Heroic Quest, but with much more time spent on the motif of "The Obstacle Flight" (Stith Thompson #D672).[1] I.e., FURY ROAD doesn't really "cut to the chase" but spends most of its time on the chase. More classically, the goal of the Quest is what Jessie Weston identified as "The Freeing of the Waters"[2] withheld, or distributed grudgingly, by a "Holdfast" tyrant: in this case a (false) immortality-promising, brainwashing and enslaving, mildly Nordic Sky-god-Father, whose death releases the waters (and other liquids [there's much imagery of liquids in this film]) and brings at least the promise of life, renewal, and redemption to The Wasteland.

Relevant here for the standard Mad-Maxian technology, standing out emphatically against the desert wastes and crucial for both the high-speed Quest chases, killing people in inventive ways, and for the city of water retention that is near the start of the Quest and its goal. Note especially the mechanisms associated with the water works, and the ingenious hybrid war vehicles, including a battle truck that should be compared and contrasted with the one in WARLORDS OF THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY (1982); the two trucks can provide a gauge for the postmodernizing and «punkification» of mise en scene since the 1982 film. A similar trend can be seen in the funky Industrial prosthetic arm of Imperator Furiosa, continuing the cinematic motif of "the hand of Rotwang," but very different from the elegant arms of The Terminator or RoboCop, or the actual artificial hands of Rotwang in METROPOLIS or Dr. No or Dr. Strangelove.[3]

Feminist critics will be interested in FURY ROAD for a number of reason, including that a major holding back and restraining by the tyrant Holdfast is monopolizing — and therefore imprisoning — fertile women (or, here, a small number of clean and good-lucking women). We should note also that the motif of the silenced woman here, as in THE RUNNING MAN, is varied, with the Hero Max spending substantial time near the beginning of the film gagged and then muzzled, with his release accomplished by the female Hero, Charlize Theron's Imperator[4] Furiosa.[5]


Erlich, 15&18/V/15