EFC 01 – Mad Max: Fury Road

Feat. The Music of Junkie XL & Avenged Sevenfold (in a special EFC music video!)

“If you can’t fix what’s broken you’ll go insane.”

“I am the one who runs from both the living and the dead. Hunted by scavengers… Haunted by those I could not protect. So I exist in this wasteland… A man, reduced to a single instinct: Survive”

Max has lost everything and everyone he cares about, save for his blood and his car. We find him wandering alone in a radiation-scorched post-apocalyptic desert. Soon he is captured by a mine-dwelling cult of psychopathic skinheads who siphon his “crazy blood” and commandeer his vehicle – the only two things he has left, seemingly.

All this man wants now is to be left alone. However, we know that’s not going to happen – not in this hellish world. To win his freedom he’ll have to make a stand. As historian, Howard Zinn professed; one cannot be neutral on a moving train. In Mad Max that train is an absolutely magnificent motorcade of fire-breathing muscle cars, souped-up trucks and motorcycles. Max finds himself shackled up to the front end of one of them, unwillingly leading the charge as a human battering ram.

Check it out (Use Full Screen): “I am awaited in Valhalla!”

When this rumbling, “guzzoline” driven stampede hits the open desert, pedal to the metal, the sight is every bit as glorious and bombastic as is the swarm of attack choppers coming in low off the horizon in Coppola’s Apocalypse Now.

I have yet to mention the other central hero of Fury Road, Furiosa. That’s FuriOsa, not FurioSA, for you Harry Potter fans out there. Upon meeting this rugged survivor I caught a honey-badger-doesn’t-give-a-shit, I will rip your face off bitch kind of vibe. She is a determined fighter who’ll let nothing hinder her pursuit of her covert objective, certainly not the fact that she only has one arm to boot. Her loyalty has won the favor of the cruel emperor, Immortan Joe, and she is now a high-ranking warrior in his Citadel. 

Let’s Go, Furiosa!

However, there is far more to this woman than meets the eye. In fact, her gaze often escapes ours own entirely, resting instead upon an idealized vision of the world to come. It is no coincidence that her vehicle is at the front of the pack, nor is it that she is its driver. All eyes are upon her, while hers are upon the road ahead. This means she is consistently the furthest out there. Even her head is closer to the windshield than Max’s. When her emerald eyes do meet ours they seem to pierce straight through to our soul which has the effect of kicking our asses into moral high gear. 

While leading a routine supply convoy to neighboring “Gas Town” and “Bullet Farm” FuriOsa makes a break for freedom by steering her war rig straight off the road towards the open desert and punching the accelerator. 

Immortan Joe1
Immortan Joe

Once Immortan Joe realizes Furiosa has gone rogue he makes a beeline after her with 200 strong of his “war boys” and several dozen steel-plated, fire-breathing gas-guzzlers. Among the warriors is Nux, the most affable maniacal martyr you ever met, and who’s fanboy obsession with Immortan Joe is welcome comedic relief; “He looked at me!” Erected on the hood of Nux’s car is Max, who Nux has shackled and intravenously connected himself to so as to reap the benefits of his nitrous-laced crazy blood.

Nux Witness Me Gif
“He looked at me!”

Immortan Joe and the war boys, and Max (unwillingly) are in hot pursuit of Furiosa when the plot thickens. We learn that the belly of Furiosa’s war rig is pregnant with cargo of an exceptional variety. As Furiosa floors it through the open desert, a hatch behind her opens to reveal her special payload, five of Immortan Joe’s wives or, more like sex-slaves. Now Furiosa’s secret motivation begins to unfurl. She is helping these white linen lingerie-draped women escape to her birthplace, “The Green Place.” Furiosa was kidnapped from her family there as a child and has not returned since.

The Wives1
The “Wives”

En route, and as fate would have it, an impressive sand storm separates both Furiosa from her pursuers, and Max from his captor (with the help of some sturdy bolt cutters) and lands both parties together. Nux, fearing the wrath of Immortan Joe for his incompetence, becomes an ally to Max. After an initial scrum between Max, Nux and the women, they all join in cahoots to escape Immortan Joe.

Max and Furiosa quickly develop an unspoken chemistry as they fight to protect one another and their passengers. Each obeys the other’s commands. Max obeys her instructions with the wary eyes of a wild dog, as he points a sawed-off shotgun at her head from the passenger seat. Furiosa follows his orders with high-minded serenity, the kind only bestowed upon a woman who knows herself, subconsciously, to be truly and unequivocally righteous. The abiding trust Furiosa places in her assailant tacitly conveys the message; this mission is bigger than you or me. Why not help? As a result, Max soon lowers his weapon and does just that.

What is it about Max and Furiosa that allows them to cooperate with one another? What do they have in common, besides being exceptionally gifted warriors, and total bad-asses in general? Well, they are both running, and they are both desperate. Desperate to escape, not only their maniacal pursuers, but also their own psychological demons. Both have experienced tragedies of the kind that would seem unbearable to most of us – the loss of their entire families, for example. Max’s family we know for certain is dead; Furiosa’s probably is as well. At any rate, she was kidnapped from them as a child, as if that’s not traumatic enough.

Max’s dead ancestors haunt his waking perception, causing sensory hallucinations and paranoia. We are privy to Max’s experience of such phenomena at the beginning of the film, when he makes a daring but failed escape attempt in the caverns of the Citadel. The exquisite, swimming, psyche-swirling chase scene that ensues is a breathtaking portrayal of the ghosts this man wrestles with throughout the film. This brings us to our first segment of “Experience This,” which will be a re-occurring feature of each EFC. 

Experience This: Max’s Haunted Escape Attempt

{ In a red light candle-lit cavern a middle-aged man is gagged and shackled spread-eagle, two feet above the sandy floor. As he hovers by his chained limbs, a motley crew of pale, bare-chested skinheads works on him like a Nascar pit-crew. Long locks of the victim’s sandy brown hair fall below snipping scissors. One of the crew controls a buzzy tattoo maker on the man’s back, which is now mostly covered with elaborate black ink text.

From the far corner of the cave a man pulls a white-hot skull-emblem-stenciled stoker from a fire. He brandishes it toward the shackled man, prompting him to break free of his restraints and unleash a barrage of elbow blows to his assailants. The man uses his handcuffed fists in unison to bulldoze would-be tacklers, gaining momentum with each new assault. In five seconds flat he is free and blazing through the fire-lit cave like a bat out of hell, his muggers sharp at his heels… } And you can observe the rest.

Max’s Haunted Escape Attempt: (Use Full Screen!)

Max & Furiosa2
Like two peas in a pod 🙂

Although strictly platonic, Max and Furiosa’s relationship is a tender love affair. This romance is evident by their show of concern and compassion for one another. She welcomes him into her crazy scheme with honesty and warmth. He returns the favor by tending to her grievous injuries, when they occur, and resurrecting her with his own lifeblood. Such mutual devotion is not what we might expect out of two people who are both so physically, psychologically and spiritually damaged, and who find themselves in such perilous of circumstances.

They share their fist meaningful verbal exchange in the cold, quiet desert night, as the film transitions into its final act. A few hours previous they had discovered “The Green Space,” their promised land, had become a barren wasteland just like everything else. Furiosa invites Max to join her and the wives on what will likely be a suicide march some 180 days through uncharted desert to some new pipe-dream oasis.

If You Can Fix What's Broken You'll Go InsaneAt this moment Max delivers the line that, I believe, serves as the skeleton key to the entire film, “You know, hope is a mistake. If you can’t fix what’s broken you’ll go insane.” Figuratively, that “what” might be something as negligible as a flat tire or a car engine. However, true insanity requires a more integral component of a person to be broken. A broken family and/or broken past could well do the trick. Such dysfunction seems to have compelled Max, Furiosa, and undoubtedly more characters in the film to their present states of madness.

Unfortunately, if that is solely the case then there can be little hope of redemption for the characters. For, it is obviously impossible to mend a broken past. There must be something more to the problem, something that can be fixed now.

Max realizes that something to be the system itself – the corrupt and oppressive structure of Immortan Joe’s rule. Furiosa’s intentions are golden. However, even the most noble a crusader can find herself on the losing side of the battle if her strategy is flawed. Furiosa’s, and Max’s flawed strategy, in this case, is running from their problems indefinitely. Their broken society is what is causing them to run in the first place, and is the direct source of all their suffering.

They were each swallowed up by the machinations of Immortan Joe’s illegitimate empire and held captive against their will. Even if they were to escape, as Furiosa had intended, they would have to live under constant threat of being captured and returned to Immortan Joe’s clutches once more. This would not be true liberation. No, true liberation would require that Immortan Joe be excised from power. Only then could they live freely. The realization dawns on Max, we can’t keep running, we must face and fix what’s broken

* * *

Watch Mad Max: Fury Road to find out whether our heroes’ plight is a success. If you have not seen the film and are considering watching it, I’ll have you know that it is not for the faint of heart. Although not quite as gruesome as Tom Hardy’s other best picture nominee this year, The Revenant, it is still bloody enough to churn the stomach. Furthermore, the violence is mostly relentless throughout. Also, the film itself it fairly dark and disturbing. So BE WARNED! Mad Max is available to rent/own on DVD, and on various on-demand platforms, including HBO/GO.

EFC 01 Music Video (Feat. “Bat Country” by Avenged Sevenfold)

Mad Max: Fury Road

Release Date: May 15, 2015
Rated: R

Director: George Miller
Writer: George Miller, Brendan McCarthy, and Nick Lathouris
Starring: Charlize Theron, Tom Hardy, Nicholas Hoult, and Hugh Keays-Byrne

Cinemotography: John Seale
Music: Junkie XL

The Inside Out: Anger (40%), Fear (18%), Disgust (15%) Sadness (11%), Joy (3%).

Anger Fear & Disgust for Elsa gif

I hope you enjoyed this first edition of The Experience Films Collection. Please share your thoughts below. Thank you for reading!

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