Don't you just hate spoilers? I do, too. That's why I always try to include warnings. However, I sometimes ramble a bit too much here or there and maybe a few (or many) key plot points slip without me giving proper notice. So I'd like to include a blanket spoiler warning for the weary internet travelers of the world: Here There Be Spoilers. You've been warned.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Mad Max

It's kind of tough to go from watching Mad Max: Fury Road to the original Mad Max film from 1979. For a number of reasons.

The huge multi-million dollar budget of Mad Max: Fury Road created a tremendous spectacle, but it is worth noting and remembering that such a series originated with a film that had a budget of about 400,000 dollars. That seems like a lot to me, but then I am lowly fast food slave. However, in the film world 400,000 dollars can barely buy a pack of tic-tacs. 

The differences between the two is striking, but it is precisely films like the original Mad Max that made me a fan of films to begin with. There's a certain ingenuity found in older, cheaper movies that seems lost on the blockbusters of today. Just hearing about some of the stories from the filming of this movie and others like it are fascinating. 

The dude that gets hit in the head with the motorcycle isn't a film effect. It really happened and it just happened to be filmed. 

However, the first Mad Max film is not my favorite. It's a decent film with a lot of great moments, but this movie is not Mad Max Rockatansky as we all know him. This film is about a family man that has entirely too much dialog compared to later films. Max is not yet "Mad Max" in this one and he doesn't become that way until well into the film. 

The Mad Max formula wasn't really perfected until The Road Warrior, in my ever so humble opinion. I stumbled across a forty minute interview with Mel Gibson online where he talks about the days of Mad Max in great detail. You can find that here. It's definitely worth watching. He talks about other things like a plan to make a viking movie (the video was from 2012), but for the most part it's about the Mad Max franchise and there's a lot of emphasis placed on the first film. He agrees with the opinion I hold and probably many others hold. So I'm in good company on that end.

This was Mel Gibson's first lead role (and it's tough to believe how young he was, he was my age at the time), but the way he was introduced in this movie recalls the way the man with no name was introduced in the Spaghetti Westerns. That isn't much of a surprise considering how much Western motifs in general were used in this film. This was a Western with cars instead of horses.

There was just a larger than life aura about Max and that is what helped punch Gibson's ticket to stardom. However, that was only glimpsed at in this movie. Outside of Gibson's introduction into the film there isn't much else to really create the mystique of Mad Max until the ending when Max really does become mad and drives the fabled black car. His struggle with knowing how to deal with the outlaws and his joyous time spent with his family all seems somehow like the movie is procrastinating the inevitable and somewhat shocking ending (although certainly tame by today's standards).

Still, Mad Max is a strong entry in the post-apocalyptic movie canon. The car chases are spot on and some of the camera angles are truly spectacular. However, there was a bigger movie to be found here that just wasn't realized at the time. It wasn't until two years later with The Road Warrior and decades later with Mad Max: Fury Road that George Miller really found his movie.

P.S. - This film has two English dubs for some reason. The first is the true Australian English dub that is vastly superior than the second and rather pointless "American English" dub. Mel Gibson, despite being born in New York, had his own voice dubbed over because he didn't sound American enough at the time. Go figure. I think the shitty American dub stilted this film's popularity somewhat in America and it wasn't until The Road Warrior (which, unsurprisingly, featured less dialog) that Max got a real homecoming in America.

P.P.S. - It's also worth noting that the guy that is the main villain of this film is also the main villain of Mad Max: Fury Road even though the characters are different. Hugh Keays-Byrne is practically unrecognizable between the two roles.


  1. I had never heard of this until The Road Warrior became a sensation. So the first time I saw this movie was on vhs tape after The Road Warrior and it was that weird American dub. It practically ruined it. I saw it much later without that American dub and thought it was very good. Strange how something like that can destroy a movie. I really get annoyed when everything must be Americanized.

    1. Sometimes I think silent movies had it right. There's no sloppy movie dubbing if there's no sound. :D