Matt Milne

Mad Max: A New Feminist Film

*WARNING: This post contains spoilers*

Mad Max director George Miller’s influence was Alfred Hitchcock, who said “you try to make movies where they don’t have to read the subtitles in Japan.

The theme of Mad Max is a post apocalyptic world fighting over human cargo, and George Miller called in The Vagina Monologues author Eve Ensler to workshop with the Five Wives (part of the human cargo of the Mad Max story) on the film shoot in Namibia. “It gave them a common purpose: an understanding.”

A grounding of character background was vital to Miller who created multiple scripts and books of backstory for particularly the Five Wives and Nux (a teenage ‘War-Boy’ in pursuit of the Norse Valhalla).

It is certainly a jaggedly-beautiful, roaring scream-ride desert chase – an action film primarily, philosophy often clings to the backseat.

The central character is Imperator Furiosa played by Charlize Theron. She is the commanding officer presiding over a fuel shipment. Unbeknownst to her superiors she has smuggled human cargo aboard: the Five Wives (or the Breeders as they are referred to at the beginning of the film – not very empowering), with plans to escape.

However, throughout the film Furiosa protects and guides the Five Wives towards independence from the male-dominated maelstrom world pursuing, through experience and hope. In the final third, they encounter the female elders, who have established their own single gender colony (reminded me of the female collective in Jane Campion’s Top of the Lake), and so it goes the bonding of old generation and new. Elderly women kicking arse ensues. Theron’s Furiosa extends a hand to the troubled titular Mad Max, who is deep in hallucinations. Their relationship develops into a conjugal (mutually dependent) one: pure feminism, in my eyes. The most powerful men are shown to be diseased and out of control.

The film was not ground breaking but it had one of the strongest female role models: damaged by experience, still fighting for an ideal. And a blistering, raw film to wonder at, too. Well worth a watch, in my book.

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