When my boyfriend, Justin, first showed me the trailer for Mad Max: Fury Road, I admit I was a bit skeptical. Was this seriously going to just be one long car chase? Could a movie like that really have much of a story? I didn’t know much about Mad Max other than it was set in a post-apocalyptic setting in the desert. I hadn’t seen the other films and never played the video games. It also looked like Charlize Theron was the ONLY female character in it, which made me roll my eyes in exasperation. However, I decided to give the film a chance after hearing rave reviews from friends on Facebook and professional critics alike. I went on Sunday night with Justin to the TCL Chinese Theatre in Hollywood to experience it in IMAX 3D.
WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW
Um…so…HOLY SHIT you guys! Mad Max: Fury Road actually turned out to be a truly amazing cinematic experience. I was on the edge of my seat for pretty much the entire film and barely breathed during the heavy action sequences. I loved the creepy weirdo universe George Miller created, especially all the wacko jargon and character names. The bad guy is called Immortan Joe and totally looks like the evil clown from the Twisted Metal video games. He’s got this respirator thing with someone’s teeth on the front and wears clear body armor with badges and metals painted on. He is scary as hell! There are also all these young “war boys” that are basically bred to be his army and do all the dirty work like operate the insane pulley system in The Citadel and drive intense vehicles across the desert. Mad Max is actually captured by some of these dudes and used as a “blood bag” for the sick war boys who have radiation poisoning. I don’t really understand why Max and some of the other characters are healthy while most everyone else is really messed up or sick, but perhaps that’s explained in the early films.
While the majority of the film really was a giant car chase across the desert, the epicness of the action was actually incredibly riveting and original. There were some seriously crazy looking vehicles including one that carried a guy whose sole job it was to play the guitar! The Doof Warrior, as he’s called, is responsible for keeping Joe’s war boys motivated during battle in addition to contributing to the diagetic soundtrack of the film. I can’t think of anything more metal than that. Oh wait, add to that the fact that it’s a double headed guitar that’s also a flamethrower and now it can’t get more metal than that. Whenever the Doof appeared, he stole the show for sure, but the real star was Charlize Theron’s character, Imperator Furiosa.
Furiosa is one of Immortan Joe’s commanders, but she betrays him in order to free the five women he has kept as his wives for breeding. She leads him and his men in a wild car chase across the Wasteland as Joe tries to get back his wives, which he considers to be his property. At some point, however, you find out Furiosa had another motive in making this great escape. She wants to get back to The Green Place, which is where she’s originally from, and is a place completely ruled by women. Apparently, Joe snatched her and her mother from there when she was a little girl, but apparently her mom didn’t make it past the 3rd day. I kept wondering how that happened and what Joe even wanted them for. Was he planning on making Furiosa’s mom one of his wives? Or even making her one of his wives? If so, why does she now look like one of the war boys? Also, how did Furiosa lose her arm? This film leaves a lot of questions unanswered, but I suppose that’s so the sequels can fill it all in.
I keep hearing people call this a feminist film. While I don’t think feminism should be a dirty word, there is a little bit more going on here than just that. Mad Max: Fury Road is a social and historical commentary about the oppression of people in general and women more specifically. This film and the Mad Max universe, takes place post-civilization and post-apocalypse; we have no idea what civilization was like before then. Was it like it is now? Or were people more civilized? Did everyone have equal rights? The point I’m trying to make is that the Mad Max films show what it’s like to live in post-civilization when there are no real rules anymore and people are just trying to survive. Someone always comes to power in these situations because people need someone to rally behind who will make sure things get done. Very often, this person is corrupt because of their attraction to power. However, things might have been very different if another person had seized control of The Citadel, Gas Town, and Bullet Farm initially. A woman might have been more just in her position, but power can corrupt across any gender or race ( The example that comes to mind is President Coin from the Hunger Games).
What makes Immortan Joe a misogynist and likely a rapist too, is that he calls his five wives his property and most likely forces them to have sex with him in order to successfully breed a healthy heir. It seems to me in a post-civilized world where there is no real government or written law, property is in the eye of the beholder anyway and therefore could be taken at any time by anyone. Of course, women nor any person, is not property and should never be treated as such. This is essentially slavery and exploitive in many ways, and obviously no one wants to live like that. So, is it really a surprise then that the Five Wives want to escape from Joe and go someplace where there are only women?
I think what so many of these so called men’s rights guys are up in arms about is the fact that a woman actually saves the women in this film. She is the surprise superhero, and becomes the main protagonist, not their beloved Mad Max. I guess that can seem emasculating to some guys, but if you ask me, they couldn’t have been very comfortable in their masculinity to begin with. Sure Max helps them, as does Nux, but Furiosa would die to protect them all and nearly does in the end. However, I’d like to point out that she does becomes a damsel in distress herself and that Max (a man) has to save her, seeing as he’s a universal blood donor. She still had to rely on men to aid her and needed one to live.
Although the women are heading to The Green Place of Many Mothers, which is a matriarchy where no men are allowed, the women ultimately need the help of the men in order to survive. The mothers of the green place are nearly wiped out on their own, which was probably a combination of being snatched by men using them as breeders, fighting with other clans, and starvation. The point is that men and women need each other. THEY ARE EQUALS. The dynamic on the War Rig with the wives, Furiosa, Max, and Nux is that of equality. Everyone has a job. Everyone is working together. The ones who know how to fight, fight. The ones who know how to fix things, fix things. It doesn’t matter their gender or age for that matter. Now tell me please, dear people of the internet, what is so horrible about that reality? These people have helped each other escape oppression and bring down an evil tyrant. The women are just as powerful as the men, especially given the circumstances. If men would just stop oppressing us and projecting outdated views on what women should and shouldn’t be doing, they’d get it.
Feminism is about equality. Yes there are militant feminists, as there are militant believers of every kind of theology, school of thought, and ism. Extremists are often louder and more media-worthy than their normal counterparts, but that’s why they’re called extremists. They are not the norm. I can’t wait to live in a world where men don’t mock or are surprised by kick ass women. How about supporting a fellow human being who is standing up for themselves and eliminating the injustices of the world? You’re a feminist if you can be unselfish for one moment and imagine yourself in another person’s shoes who may not be as privileged as you because of their sex, gender or sexual identity. Feminism is not a four letter word and we shouldn’t be afraid to call each other a feminist. Letting someone else tell you what you are is an acceptance of oppression.
So George Miller, I applaud you and your film for creating this dialogue between men and women about equality and feminism. It’s about time that a man wasn’t afraid to show a woman fighting on her own terms. Go see Mad Max: Fury Road!!