The Best Fury Road review, by Matt Colville
Joyce Park stashed this in Arts
Amazing technical review of the movie that confirms a few things: the cars were real, there was no script, and there was more CGI than you can possibly imagine.
This answered a lot of questions for me:
They gave George Miller everything he asked for, and he put it all in the movie. Fury Road reeks of “I may never get another chance to make one of these, so fuck it, all-in. No compromises.”
Only George Miller could have directed this. In fact only post 2011 George Miller could have directed this. Only someone who’d done Babe: Pig In the City, Happy Feet, and Happy Feet 2 could have directed Fury Road.
George Miller is the director George Lucas was trying to be with the prequels. The difference? George Miller spent years working on CGI kids movies with tons of post-production. So when cameras finally, finally, rolled on Fury Road he knew exactly what CG could do, and how to use it.
There is so much CG work in this movie, it’s hard to fathom. Miller succeeds at what I would have considered an impossible task. He made a movie FOR people who worship practical effects. . .and he did it all with CGI. And the audience is going INSANE for the results. They believe. He told them “It’s all real,” he lied to them, and they believed it.
He knew he could lie to them, because he knew what his audience wants. They want to know; when that truck goes flying up in the air, it’s real. When that truck smashed into that rock, it’s real.
Well, that part is. They really built all those trucks, and they really launched them into the air and they really smashed them into each other. But that’s only about 30%-40% of the film. The launching and smashing. The rest is driving. And almost none of that is real.
This is as good an explanation of Max's motivation as I've heard:
Max in Fury Road is not a heroic character. He saves the girls, but only when every other option is exhausted. He’s not the hero of the piece, he’s more like a pinball that came careening into this movie from somewhere else, bounces off several characters at different angles, then speeds away into the desert to wreck/save some other random people’s lives.
I am, by trade, a writer and so I often have to sort of pull back the curtain on movies people love and explain that the film they saw doesn’t work the way they think. They think of heroic characters as being active. They’re not. Not as a rule. They’re reactive. John McClane does everything he can to avoid acting. He calls the cops, several times, he throws a body on a cop car to get their attention, he cheers when the cops show up because all the time he’s hoping those guys will do their job. Even though his wife is in danger, even though he is a cop, the movie puts his back against the wall and takes every other option away from him, until he is forced to act. Then we see some shit. Then the movie starts.
Indiana Jones, famously, does nothing during the entire film Raiders of the Lost Ark, except delay the Nazis from melting their own faces. If I described a story to you like that, you’d think I was a bad writer. What a terrible idea, the hero has to be active! He has to save the day!
Max is not the hero I think a lot of people were expecting. All he wants to do is survive. There’s a moment where Max gives Furiosa and the others hope. “Let’s go back. Let’s go back and take the citadel. It’s undefended. We can do it.”
It is a simple statement, and it means two entirely different things. To everyone listening, it’s hope. Warboy Nux even says it, “Feels like hope,” he says.
But that’s not what Max said. Max didn’t say “well if you guys want a chance at a happy life. . ..” He said “This is our only chance.” There’s nothing out there, they have to go back. The only way Max can be a hero is here at the end when every other option has been exhausted.
He then goes on to say “maybe together we can come across some kind of redemption.” Why would he say that? What is redemption for Max?
It’s giving someone else life, just as he failed to do for the girl in his waking nightmares.
Max can’t have that life. He’s in the Waste Land. And just as it looks like Furiosa is about to join him, he stops her, and gives her hope. He can give that to Furiosa, against all odds, but he knows he can’t have that for himself. There’s no future for Max. Everyone else wants to change the world. Father and Furiosa both want to create Order from the Chaos, in different ways. Max thinks they’re both idiots. There is no order. There’s only the Waste Land.
Everyone remembers Eliot’s poem as being called The Wasteland, meaning the desert, the scrub, the land where nothing grows. But its The Waste Land. The land, a healthy land, wasted. The land made sick by the illness of the Grail King, by the inability of his knights to cure it. But a land that could be something, if cured.
The Wasteland is a land where nothing can grow. But the Waste Land is a land that could give life, but does not. Is being wasted, spent.
That’s what Max wants, in the end. He wants to help Furiosa turn the Waste Land into the paradise she’s been looking for. It has everything she’s ever wanted, green, water. Life. He can’t have that, he leaves in the end. Walks away. Because for him, there is no Waste Land to recover. There’s only the Wasteland, an internal landscape for Max. A psychological landscape.
George Miller is so clever:
Fury Road is receiving a lot of buzz for being a feminist movie, which I think is code for “a film that doesn’t shit all over the entire idea of women.” Which we need a word for these days, and the fact that we need a word for that is probably why Miller made Furiosa the hero.
But if Fury Road elevates girls in film, it’s only so they can join the boys. It’s not at the expense of boys. Furiosa’s strength and drive doesn’t render Max redundant or irrelevant. It requires Max. The family, Miller is saying, needs both. The mother-figure and the father-figure. Even as someone from a single-parent home, that’s hard to argue with.
Immortan Joe is a twisted parody of a father. There is no mother-figure in the Citadel. His rule does not allow it. He’s tried to consume the entire idea of motherhood. Co-opt it. Be both father and mother to these people. He literally milks the slave-mothers and then provides metaphorical milk, water, sustenance, life, to the people.
He wants to control life. Living and dying, only on his command. Young women are used to make his children, old women to make his milk. All are property.
Like certain Old, Fat, Powerful, White, Men here in the real world, he doesn’t just want to control your life, he wants to control your ability to create life. For him, control over life means control over reproduction. He owns the women, he owns what the women do. Their wombs are his. There are no mothers in his world, there are only machines for making more of him.
Like Prometheus, we have another near-perfect Greimassian Square here. We have the Father (Max), the Anti-Father (Immortan Joe), and the Not-Father (Nux, fated to die). We have the Mother (Angharad) and the Not-Mother (Furiosa), but Miller couldn’t bring himself to give us an Anti-mother. All the women in the film are good guys. 😀
I think we’re living in a golden age of fantasy cinema. Dredd, Oblivion, Edge of Tomorrow, Gravity, Pacific Rim, Guardians of the Galaxy, Interstellar, Under the Skin and now. . .Max.