Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) Directed by George Miller

The original Mad Max trilogy dissipated upon each new movie being released. Starting as a very decent and gritty B-Movie venture – (and Lord thank George Miller for bringing Mel Gibson to public attention) – by the time we reached the Thunderdome edition, Tina Turner and an embarrassingly twee hippy message was in tow. Amongst all the heavy symbolism and awful soundtrack, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome did bring us a new view of the post apocalyptic communities and a love for fast and weird motor vehicles. These elements Miller has retained for his Mad Max reboot. It's a smart move because Miller keeps all the essence and none of the flab. In the process, Mad Max: Fury Road manages to create the best female action hero since Sigourney Weaver's Ellen Ripley. 

Mad Max: Fury Road gives us an array of weird vehicles chasing each other
But what an insanely eclectic and eccentric career George Miller has had. As well as Mad Max Miller has brought us the Happy Feet movies (wtf), Babe the talking pig (as original screenwriter then sequel director) and the abject failure of The Witches Of Eastwick. There has been other stuff for TV, but nothing substantial. But lets be clear, Mad Max: Fury Road rocks. Not just with the crazy heavy metal stacks and guitars (featured), but with its amazing and relentless ride. Miller's new Max as played by Tom Hardy is a grunting, muscular presence (strangely reminiscent of Craig as Bond). He works: the old smell of sentimentality that Gibson's Mad Max possessed is vanquished, replaced by a resilient bewilderment and sense of undiminished purpose. Some have made feminist claims for Fury Road. I'm not so sure, this seems to be a very male gaze we're viewing Mad Max from. But however good Hardy is, he's wiped out by the sheer iconic coolness of Charlize Theron as Imperator Furiosa

Theron As Imperator Furiosa
Theron not only channels Ripley, we get the cool of Leone's Eastwood (referenced by Miller one feels in some of these landscapes) and the cold steel of Arnie's Terminator. Theron (despite attempts such as Aeon Flux) has finally found an all-action franchise (and really, a character as good as Furiosa could really have her own franchise). One wonders if Scott made a mistake not giving Theron the Elizabeth Shaw role in Prometheus, because Furiosa has her roots in Ripley. Theron is also 40 years old and undoubtedly beautiful, but that age gives Furiosa extra depth, we believe her scars and that her inner toughness has been gained by experience. So Theron steals this movie, but it doesn't actually make the film a singular achievement. In many ways the real star is the dust road, with Miller often eschewing CGI in favour of real contraptions racing at insane speeds. Yes, Mad Max: Fury Road's application is old-school, but its worldview is thoroughly modern and slightly bonkers. Miller has created the ultimate ride. 

When I had absolutely no hair a year ago, I used to dream of hair all the time. I even created a Pinterest board collecting cool short cuts. My favorite was this Charlize Theron picture:

Back then I had no idea that this cut related to Mad Max: Fury Road. I didn't care what it related to. I just stared at her cropped silvery shiny super short hair and felt like I could definitely be beautiful too in just about two weeks. For me the picture was all about survival. Recovering from chemo was a mess of many incredibly difficult things. It's still mostly a jumble in my mind – a blur – was it really me going through cancer treatment at the age of 32? Who am I now and can I ever feel beautiful again?

Most of the time, I didn't even have time to think of those questions because my focus was on day to day survival. I was present in the moment – in a way that I have found harder as my life has returned to a more normal state. And even with all the ill-making medicine, loss, pain and fear I found a lot of beauty around me. I think I also enjoyed losing my hair a little because it felt like a holiday from feeling the obligation to appear 'beautiful'.

Sitting in the cinema during Mad Max: Fury Road I watched Furiosa (Theron) and weaved her appearance (one arm missing, hardly any hair), strength, sadness and the incredibly pushy pace of the film into my own personal story. I watched creating and feeling – like I used to as a child and a teenager. Mad Max is in no way a movie I would generally endorse or agree to watch. For the first ten minutes my eyes focused mostly on my lap, as I sat regretting my film choice. But Furiosa was not the only feminist character of a very camp over-the-top-macho film. There is a lull in the middle of all the action and it is a celebration of women, nurture and life. I could rip this film to pieces; the representations of gender on offer are not revolutionary in any way, but this time around I prefer to dance with it. Just today Emma Thompson reminded us of the sexism and agism in Hollywood. Things are getting harder, not better. I have to agree with her on the sentiment and add that in general many rights and values that I may have thought were permanently part of the norm are suddenly being threatened. We need to be fierce like Furiosa. Beauty is a trap. Surviving is possible.


  1. I am a woman and I thought everything about this movie was awesome. Astrid should stick to Disney films. Seriously, staring at your lap??? Just...leave good films to the grown ups. Jeezus.


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