Exploitation Cinema – A Mad Max Film Review
Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) is set in a post-apocalyptic Australia in which clan membership is the only chance of survival as water is scarce. In this story, a clanswoman “steals” 5 wives of the clanstyrant, drives her war rig into a canyon to try to get more fuel, but because they are followed by the tyrant’s army they are denied fuel and have to flee. Trying to shake the tyrant off, she drives all through a tornado where she gets rid of most pursuers, but Max manages to gain her trust even though he doesn’t have a high stand as the only man between those 6 women. Having a vision of a green place, they drive nonstop trying to rid themselves of the last clans people still following and eventually shake them off, stumbling into a small clan of motorcyclists that turn out to be relatives of the clanswoman, who adopt them immediately.
The films topic is exploitation more than it has a plot: They drive to a place, find it’s hopeless and drive back. The first Mad Max was released in 1979 and this is the fourth film with this title. It is a film that exploits itself – and many other topics while doing it.
The biggest theme is probably carsploitation, as every single being out in this desert seems to have their own vehicle, be it a massive war rig, trucks, modified and fire breathing four by fours or off-road motorcycles.
As a road movie, the next theme is Ozploitation as Australia with the vast outback and scarce water has made the genre their own and since then released countless road movies with others adapting and copying the idea.
Gangsploitation is also heavily featured as Max himself was taken prisoner by the clan the women belong to, worth noting is that all the members of this specific clan are as pale as albinos – even though they live in a desert. Maybe a sign of richness, not having to go outside during the day like the common folk?
For some reason, this clan’s highest achievement is to die in battle and eat in the great halls of Valhalla, which leads to the conclusion that they have adopted the Norse gods and religion, maybe as it’s very heavily relying on drinking and fighting.
The film makers have also borrowed elements from pirate films as they all characters shoot with guns and some scenes, in which the cars race head on head the characters jump over using long poles that swing from side to side and have the same use as the ropes the pirates have to swing themselves onto the other ship. If someone were to reverse certain elements of the film, for example the desert into a great sea and water into food, then the parallels of the cars being ships that race through water rather than sand works well – and the film as a whole would probably still work as well.
A very big topic of this film is feminism as all the main characters but one are women, which have diverse and atypical personalities, can make decisions for themselves and most of all – fight. Escaping through the desert, they are looking for a childhood memory, the green place. Eventually they come upon a small clan of female motor bikers, which immediately take them in as daughters and protect them at all costs, even if it means to sacrifice their own lives.
Having learnt that the green place doesn’t exist anymore, all head back to the starting point but killing the tyrant on the way, making it a safe place to live now.
Overall it’s a very action laden film with a fairly slow start to the story which then turns amazing, it’s not a film for the faint of heart as the visuals can be quite brutal but altogether story and shooting make a comprehensible, feeling, understanding and brilliant film which should be seen by everyone. My personal score is 5/5.