Recently, I bought ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ on DVD. I can’t remember the last time I bought a DVD. Ordinarily, I only buy DVDs of my favourite films, or when I need something to watch on a long journey and do not have internet access. Both of these reasons are why I purchased ‘Mad Max’. Firstly, as mentioned in a previous post, I have recently broken my laptop, so am limited with what I can watch. Secondly, other than ‘The Witch’ (2015), I think that ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ was probably my favourite film released that year. It had such an impact on me that I ended up watching this at the cinema 3 times. The only other film I did that with was probably ‘Deadpool’ (2016).
‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ is the fourth instalment of the ‘Mad Max’ franchise, and is set in a post-apocalyptic world (following a nuclear holocaust), in which the world has become a desert wasteland and civilisation has collapsed. Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy) is a survivor who is captured by the War Boys, the army of the War Lord Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), and taken to Joe’s Citadel. Max is designated as a universal blood donor, and is imprisoned and used as a “blood bag” for a sick War Boy called Nux (Nicholas Hoult). Meanwhile, Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron), one of Joe’s lieutenants, is sent in her “War Rig” (an armoured truck) to collect gasoline. She instead drives off-route, with 5 of Joe’s wives (selected and imprisoned for breeding purposes) – taking them to the “Green Place” (a lush place run by women that she remembers from her youth) as a refuge. Joe heads his entire army in pursuit of Furiosa, calling on the aid of nearby armies, which Max gets caught up in.
I think that the main reason that this film had such an impact on me was because of the film’s strong cinematography. The manic effects that the shutter speed has on the action in the film is just amazing. It captures the erratic actions of the War Boys which, in turn, emphasises their unstable ideals and the post-apocalyptic world in which they exist. Similarly, the special effects of certain scenes show the War Boys’ nihilistic ideas about Valhalla (the afterlife that Immortan Joe promises his War Boys will live in once they have sacrificed themselves in war for him), which are portrayed through their fast-paced, unpredictable movements within the high speed car chases.
Like the special effects of this film, the vivid colours of this piece help to create this immersive, surreal apocalyptic world. I read somewhere that the director (George Miller, who directed the previous 3 ‘Mad Max’ films) wanted this movie to be released in black and white. He then planned to release a special edition of this for cinema release, but again, this dream was not realised. Although this would have been great to see, I think it would have detracted something from the film that was eventually released. I think that the colours used in the final film emphasised the starkness of the desert wasteland that the movie was set in. This, in turn, enhanced the intense emotions of the characters, as well as the surreal, post-apocalyptic characters (like Immortan Joe). This horrific War Lord comes alive in this world created by these saturated colours.
After watching this film, I researched how well this film had done in terms of critical acclaim/awards it had received (as I was vaguely aware that this film had done well at the Oscars). Although ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ did not win an Academy Award for ‘best picture’ at the 2016 Oscars’, it did win the most awards of that year. These included Oscars for the following;
- film editing
- sound mixing
- costume design
- sound editing
- production design
- makeup and hairstyling
The above are all the strongest composites of ‘Mad Max’, and are what make this film one of my favourites of 2015. I agree that it should not have necessarily won best film (although for me, I do not think that ‘The Revenant’ (2015), which did win that year, was worthy of an Oscar either – but that opinion is for another blog…) This is because I am aware that broadly speaking, not many people would have appreciated the plot of ‘Mad Max’ (as essentially, this is based around an intense, high-speed car chase). Nonetheless, the film’s strong points (the editing, sound, production design and costumes) won big, and rightly so.
Now, I said that the film was just an ‘intense, high speed car chase’. In broad strokes, this is exactly what this movie is. However, I do not want to diminish this film in any way. Sure the plot of the film is actually rather simple (involving an escape and pursuit), but the protagonist is not actually the suspected lead character of the movie. The protagonist of this film is not actually Max, but is instead Charlize Theron’s character Imperator Furoisa (which is something that I was not anticipating). She is fantastic, and this film is where I fell in love with Theron. She is such a badass fighter, yet has an endearing side to her (in her need to escape and save others). I also like the bond that Furoisa and Max strike between themselves. Actually, I like how all the characters within this film interact. Although the plot runs seamlessly with little dialogue, the character development in this film is effective, as you can easily identify and connect with the characters through their journeys and back stories.
I recently read another interesting article on the production of this film (I was that taken aback by the look of its production that I wanted to know how it was created), which stated that this ‘Mad Max’ instalment had a 10 year delay in productions, as the team struggled finding the funds and location in which to make this movie. I am kind of glad that it took them this long to bring us this instalment of the ‘Mad Max’ franchise, as the location/intricate sets, productions and costumes are what makes this film. The same article stated that this film had to have 150 cars specifically built for it (not only to give it their authentic, unique apocalyptic-look, but also to enable the crew to film these intense scenes) – which blew my mind. This proves that time, patience and expertise are essential for film making (and that CGI/throwing large sums of money at a film is not always what is needed, time and vigorous decision-making is also required).
The main reason I liked ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ was the visual and audio aspects of this film. I personally think that the plot is gripping in spite of its simplicity (as it is essentially a prolonged car chase). However, the strong acting establishes great character development in spite of a lack of dialogue. Similarly, I liked that Max was not the protagonist (despite the film being named after him), and that the main focus is on Furiosa trying to rescue 5 women (most of whom are models first and foremost, so their acting is not as strong – but are, nonetheless buoyed by the strong leading actors around them/fast-paced scenes). The world Miller creates is such a devastatingly post-apocalyptic spectacle, and is an absolute masterpiece. In my eyes, visually the film is like a surrealist piece of art, set to a destructively amazing soundtrack. If you’re interested in plot solely, then this film is probably not for you. However, if you (like me) are more interested in a fuller scope of cinematography (like how films are edited, the sound mixing and things like that) then you will love this film.