Mad Max Screen 11 articles

Mad Max

1979

Mad Max Poster
  • Car chases (or, more specifically, the attendant wrecks) as spectacular as promised. The rest kind of eludes me. While I enjoyed the Berserkers' appropriation of West Side Story/The Warriors-style balleticism, I don't understand the elaborate, elliptically-filled-in mythology Miller sets up, and my constant bafflement made this an oddly unvisceral experience.

  • What a strange film this is. Structurally, it makes little sense: The opening sequence (which is far and away the zenith) introduces Max as an iconic badass, defined by his shades, clothes, and silence; then he's immediately revealed as a perfectly ordinary family man, sensitive and conscientious (wait what?); then the movie proceeds to methodically turn him back into the iconic badass it had already established in the first few minutes.

  • The film's imagery is wild and its editing pace frenetic, though unlike its better-known sequel The Road Warrior it takes some time out for character development, giving the violent action a semblance of motivation. Miller's work has been compared to Sergio Leone's spaghetti westerns, but where the Leone films are about amorality, the Mad Max movies are purely and simply amoral—some of the most determinedly formalist filmmaking this side of Michael Snow.

  • ++

    The Globe and Mail: Jay Scott
    July 12, 1985 | Great Scott! (pp. 198-199)

    George Miller was able in the first Mad Max to do what no American director since Sam Peckinpah had been able successfully to bring off: a non-elegiac Western that was not a mournful statement (pace The Grey Fox) about the decline of the West. And to do it, Miller went back to the beginning, to the most basic Western of all, the primal revenge parable.

  • It's uniquely powerful in its meshing of this socio-cultural imaginary with the intricate, textual mechanics of modern action cinema. Too often reduced to its bare, supposedly mythic structure by its fans, the film is most fully realised on the smallest, material level of image/sound relations. As Alain Garel wisely argued . . . in 1985, its nearly abstract, kinetic thrust is certainly more historically important, in retrospect, than its more conventional, dramaturgical side.

  • Mad Max (1980), the great George Miller's taut, low-budget car/motorcycle/futuristic film depicts a pissed-off cop (Mel Gibson in his star-making role) seeking vengeance for the murder of his wife and kid at the hands of outlaw bikers. The restless camera and stunt work is above and beyond the film's B-movie potential. Serious invention was at work.

  • There are many wonderful ‘shots’ in Mad Max, which still stands as one of the most beautifully lensed, edited and composed Australian films of all time. I’ll let other people articulate what those are in my florid words than me, but my own personal favourite is the unveiling of ‘the Engine’: “She’s the last of the V8s, she sucks nitro, phase 4 head.”

  • Often hailed as one of the chief cinematic exports of the "Ozploitation" era, Mad Max should be noted more as a miracle of economic filmmaking than as a narrative landmark of Australian cinema. Budgeted somewhere slightly north of $300,000, Mad Max is exciting, fleet-footed, and beautifully, ominously shot by then first-time cinematographer David Eggby.

  • Just as in Violence in the Cinema Part 1, Miller sculpts a dystopian vision of the space between body and machine where both are ceaselessly meshed together, the space only ruptured when the machine turns the body into its hapless prey.

  • A future of endless horizontal sprawls and hopped-up gearheads is the perfect fit for the keen novice director, his camera hurtles from one asphalt jockey to another to capture the slapstick of crisscrossing vehicles.

  • The innovations of Mad Max have been so thoroughly ripped off that it’s easy to insufficiently appreciate the freshness of its grim, primitive futurism. Not the first post-apocalyptic movie, George Miller’s debut nonetheless stands out for the plausibility of its bleak vision.

More Links