'Mad Max' Review
Few things embody the concept of civilization like roads. These concrete arteries were crafted by man with the sole purpose of facilitating access between different communities and allow commercial, political, cultural and social exchange. Simply put, without roads, there would be no civilization.
And yet, we take roads for granted. We travel through them quickly, in an eternal instant that immediately becomes the past, without giving it much thought. Roads are condemned to never be our destination.
George Miller seems to know this. It's not an accident (pun intended!) that the road is the main location of his fictional cinematic society's decline. The Ozploitation is perfect for this setting. Miller's Australia is full of roads that seem to go nowhere. It's an isolated land, ideal for hosting this boiling point social broth.
In Mad Max, the law is enforced by police officers who dress as 1950s rebel greasers, with black boots and leather jackets. It's the way the costume design shows us how this world is engulfed in chaos and is evidently degenerating.
Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson) is the top pursuit man of the Main Force Patrol (MFP), an Australian highway patrol created by the rising of accidents, delinquency and bike packs. After enforcing the law and temporarily crippling the chaos created by a motorbike gang led by Toecutter (Hugh Keays-Byrne), Max and his friend Jim Goose (Steve Bisley) become the primary targets of the gang.
Fearing retaliation and in an effort to protect his wife Jessie (Joanne Samuel) and his son, Max decides to take some time off from the MFP.
And of course, his attempt to evade his reality will have a cruel turn of events.
The atmosphere in Mad Max is sustainedly uneasy. Miller assumes the term "society on the brink of collapse" as the constant direction. In this universe, the inhabitants have romantic getaways to the beach (and vanilla ice cream cones!) while fearing the impending terrors of the road in the form of robberies, torture, rapes and murders.
Most of the time, Mad Max is building conflict. It's a tortuous and slow road towards the imminent misery of the protagonist. When finally it's time for payback, the revenge happens in just the last 15 minutes, in a quick, (kinda satisfying nonetheless), almost incidental way.
And that's where Miller's genius lies. This film was never about the struggle between a hero and the villains, but about the end of civilization thanks to the triumph of impunity.
What's Your Rating For Mad Max (1979)?
When Max goes mad, destiny has already reached him. There are no longer institutions or laws to rely on. What remains is primitive Darwinism, the cruelest survival of the fittest.
With Mad Max, George Miller began an apocalyptic saga that continued to delve into apocalyptic issues (energy shortage, food struggle, slavery, patriarchy, etc.) through three more films.
But this film, the original, is unique. In associating the attitude of the main character to the destiny of society, Miller made an epic cinematic statement with a narrative tension that isn't easily achieved.
Title: Mad Max
Release Year: 1979
Director(s): George Miller
Actors: Mel Gibson, Joanne Samuel, Hugh Keays-Byrne, a.o.
© 2019 Sam Shepards