Mad Max: Fury Road Discussion

Below is an open discussion thread for the Best Dramatic Presentation (Long Form) finalist Mad Max: Fury Road.

Assume spoilers will be present!

Keep in mind the Comment Rules, and let’s get to discussing this year’s Hugo finalists!

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6 thoughts on “Mad Max: Fury Road Discussion”

  1. I had no desire to see this when it was in theaters. I’m not sure if I have ever seen more than clips of any of the previous Mad Max movies. After hearing so many rave about it and seeing it on many year-end best-of lists, I decided to check it out on HBO. And I don’t get it. It was a long painful slog to get through it. I’ll be ranking it 5th. I’d love to hear what others found so appealing.

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    1. Well, as an action movie it has that important mix of pace, enough character time to make the key relationships work, plenty of actual action, and a plot that doesn’t fall apart while you’re watching it. It has impressive action work, with physical effects throughout and the cgi mainly confined to background work.
      The setting is recognisable as Mad Max without being a rehash, and is an interesting escalation on the societies seen in 2 and 3.
      The character of Max spent movies 2 and 3 starting out as an enigma that gains some sense of personality before resetting back to an enigma again, so using Furiosa as the lead character was a bit of a brilliant move that let them play Max to his strengths without coming over as an 80s movie again.
      As actual SF…well, the series has never been coherent SF so why start now? It’s pulp fun instead.

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      1. Thanks, Mark. I had a feeling that having Furiosa as the main character was probably a key factor. Charlize Theron’s performance was probably the only thing that really kept me watching.

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  2. I enjoyed this one a lot. I loved that it had lots of women characters that did a mix of courageous things–some butt-kicking, yeah, but also women without those (let’s face it, rare) skills who decided to take risks, achieving worthwhile goals thereby. When the very pregnant woman hops in front of Furiosa to spoil the villain’s shot, for example.

    Maybe in ten years I’ll be less taken with this feature because maybe it will be common by then. But right now–heck yes!

    The world building itself is arguably pretty weak; if I had to find fault with it I would be looking at logistics issues like how are they keeping the water away from the people who want it, and how do they have enough labor surplus to produce that much gasoline (and why are they not more worried about running out of gas in the middle of the desert) and that level of what looks like medical care for the main villain, but that only crops up in my mind now and then because the spectacle kept me largely occupied.

    OTOH I found the cultural worldbuilding shiny and chrome so there is that.

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  3. Why I love Fury Road, explained by other people who are cleverer:

    1. Mad Max: Fury Road is a story about sexists, told by non-sexists.:

    there’s a great lie we’ve been told – that in order for an audience to understand that a character is sexist, women must be humiliated on camera.

    The truth is this:

    When a male character calls a female character a bitch in a movie, that is not the filmmaker’s way of showing the audience the character is sexist; that is the filmmaker’s way of showing the audience that the character’s sexist point of view is worth hearing.

    Read that paragraph over and over until it sinks in.

    Mad Max: Fury Road makes it absolutely clear that the villains are sexist, and it does so without ever once implying that their sexist point of view is worth hearing. Instead, we learn that they are sexist second-hand, through context and world-building.

    2. Mad Max vs. Tropes for Men in Action:

    Fury Road is a dual protagonist narrative. Max isn’t there just as a supporting character. But because Furiosa’s storyline does so much of the heavy lifting in terms of moving the plot along, Max is freed up to have a story that’s mostly about his feelings.

    3. Tumblr user bonehandledknife did an influential series of posts about Fury Road and film theory, and particularly how the cinematography and editing of Fury Road frames the women as people, not objects — and how radical this is, how against usual film-making practice.

    bonehandledknife’s posts and the ensuing discussion led me to see Fury Road as displaying the crucial SFFnal quality of world-building not in the usual places (how logically the world looks/hangs together), but in its cinematography and editing. It’s not great SFF because the Mad Max world makes sense, it’s SF because it makes us see it in a radically different way: as though we aren’t sexists.

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    1. Thank you so much for this! I didn’t enjoy this one at all, but this helps me appreciate it a lot more. Now I have a clearer understanding of what makes it a worthy choice even though it didn’t appeal to me.

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