Back-and-forth on the Fury Road [part 2]

2015/05/23

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So I texted six points in response to my friend William’s texted reaction [in last post] to Mad Max: Fury Road. His replies to my points follow in italics and to the right, and then, in normal type, I make a final word. SPOILERS ARE ALL OVER THIS POST.

1. I’m not sure I’d call the violence senseless. Mad Max films are set in a world that has forgotten God and His morality. In the place of the Golden Rule, it’s simply the survival of the fittest — no, the most brutal.

But the film’s overhanging theme is actually a refutation of that quasi- Darwinian ethos.

1. I did not sense that God as we know Him played any role in this story; neither as an unseen nor mitigating motivator for any of the characters’ actions. There is certainly a moral standard in play that some of the characters adhere to, but it’s never implied that God was that standard. Of course, you can read what you like into their motivations, which would answer your point about the minion who’s motivation you didn’t understand. When it comes to God, there really isn’t a wrong answer…

I was referring to the fact that Mad Max isn’t a sci-fi setting in a vacuum. It’s set in our future, in (presumably) an Australia destroyed by a final world war. So in that context, it is indeed a world once founded on Western civilization that has left Christian morality behind in large part.

———

2. The War Boy who Turns Good was initially the weak point for me. I didn’t see the motivation for his turn, which seemed be happening even before the redhead encounter. It’s still a stumble, but not a fatal one, because so much of the character moments in this film are understated and behind the eyes.

It wasn’t a significant drawback, rather in my view a chance for the audience to climb on board with the plot to this point and allow yourself to suspend our disbelief. All stories of this type need someone the viewer or reader as the case may be to either guide or serve as a surrogate for their involvement, and his role was perhaps a bit too obvious in that. There was a moment where he talked about destiny and he was trying to figure out what his own role in the story since it wasn’t going as he intended; that could have served as an indication that his importance was greater than so far viewed and that there could possibly be a greater power at play (again, whether or not if you choose to believe that, there’s the in point)

 It wasn’t at all obvious for me, at least not in the first half of the movie (prior to that moment Will mentions). I kept getting upset that this venal little zealot hadn’t just freaking DIED already. I certainly didn’t see him as the Everyman or guide. He was just another adversary.

It’s one of the things I liked about the film, actually. There WASN’T a character filling the role Will mentions. For the whole first act, we’re like Max after the opening scene: chained and being dragged along to wherever this mad movie is taking us.

———

3. This is an accidental feminist film, in which women aren’t just “the girl” or the helpless prize to be won and rescued by the hero. Each woman shows reserves of strength. And indeed, the film as a whole champions the feminine virtues of nurturance over the extremely sick patriarchy of Immortan Joe.

3. Valid point; it was not intentional, or at least I hope not (I would hope that the idea was that this is always possible, but some people choose not to believe it; i.e. those male rights protesters. It may not be as extreme as some people are making it out to be either way; nobody looked at Denzel’s role in Eli as groundbreaking for Black lead actors, though the premise of the line surviving baby in Children of Man being of African descent was noticed without irony. Again, what you read into all of this plays a role in how it’s perceived.

It’s definitely not intentional, per the filmmaker’s own admission. It’s still refreshing.

More in the next installment. And perhaps Will is doing his own version on his own blog, “Serious Consideration.”

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