Billy's Film Reviews.

A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!

Mad Max – 1979

mad_max_01George Miller is a celebrated visionary who has emerged in and out of the spotlight over the past few decades. Most known for his ambitious and highly successful apocalyptic trilogy from the late 70’s and early 80’s, Miller was definitely an integral part in putting the Australian film industry on the map.
How does one take a shoestring budget of $400,000 (AUD) and turn it into $100Million (USD)? No, he doesn’t visit the world’s most generous currency exchange store, he writes and directs “Mad Max”, of course.

Like many well-known Australian flicks, “Mad Max” takes place in the post-apocalyptic Australian wastelands and exhibits some of the nation’s most desirable stretches of endless bitumen. Max (Mel Gibson) is a hardened patrol officer that uses his expertise and roughness to control the several violent and chaotic motorcycle gangs that continue emerge.
After his best friend, wife and baby are killed, the audience are made witness to one mans sudden descent into revenge, rage and madness. Max is a classic example of a character that has had everything taken from them, and their choices from then on truly define them overall. There are consequences for their actions, and soon enough they soon learn that no amount of vengeance will cure them completely.

aMax is a fantastic anti-hero with a lot of intriguing qualities, but what adds to the overall sense of fascination is the solid performance from Mel Gibson (ironically, pre-insanity). 

Gibson, with his very youthful looks, embodies the essence and depth of Max to near-perfection.
The enigmatic protagonist has a significant ark within the film, and it’s rather fun to watch unfold. The journeys of all the characters involved in the film are very indicative of the setting, time and tone of “Mad Max”.
The barren wastelands, the shortage of various resources and the overriding sense of desperation and anarchy allow for a variety of unique and diverse characters; something that Miller capitalises upon.

“Mad Max” is an iconic piece of Australian cinema that has managed to remain relevant up to the present day and has even spawned a modern reboot/sequel that looks to have upped the stakes tenfold.
The character of Max is well known and certainly put Gibson into the spotlight, but watching it just last night, it’s easy to identify the period in which it was made. “Mad Max” is a rather dated picture, and there are many facets that demonstrate this.

3d02c850e5aef2fb744b1f0ed772f868For example, the editing is a little jumpy and in-your-face. This definitely fits in with the tone of the film, but some action sequences are sometimes too hard to look at given their jumbled and rapid-fire structure.
The budget is of course a major factor to consider when critiquing such fields, however, it gives off a very “old-fashioned” vibe for me. The shot composition is very good however. Although the dialogue, costume and editing indicate an older film, the cinematography within “Mad Max” masterfully captured and is almost unbelievable given the budget constraints.
There are shots of certain car chases that you’d think would cost millions to organise and capture, but Miller has obviously made the most of what he had and set out to match those blockbuster shots as best he could.

The plot of “Mad Max” is a little confusing at times. The film is definitely one to watch closely for important narrative information. It’s difficult to see a film in two different ways, but it’s a real credit to the film itself when it can show an audience both simultaneously.
For example, “Mad Max” can be watched from a chaotic, mindless action romp point of view, but at the same time, it can be watched from a potent, metaphorical viewpoint too. Certain films upon initial viewing can give an audience both viewpoints at the same time through cleverly matched dialogue and action; “Mad Max” sadly wasn’t able to do that for me as well as some.

0313766_2429_MC_Tx360A little clunky and misleading, the story begins to fray and soon enough you’re watching it with your brain switched off. This may please some, but I believe there’s more to take in, I’ll just need to re-watch it I think.

For what felt like a small independent film with the heart of a multi-million dollar epic, “Mad Max” impressed, confused, disgusted, impacted and amused me.
Definitely an iconic picture that deserves to be watched at least once by every Australian, Miller’s first major project is one to experience. It won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, that’s for sure, but there’s a lot to admire about this ambitious and confident film.
It’s shot excellently; it possesses some investable characters and undoubtedly set the benchmark for Australian flicks to follow.


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This entry was posted on May 6, 2015 by in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , .
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