Thursday, February 04, 2016

Mad Max: Fury Road - Patriarchal Dystopia

“My name is Max. My whole world is fire and blood. I am the one who runs away from the living and the dead. A man reduced to a single instinct – survive.” Pretty much your average guy.

Mad Max: Fury Road” is the ultimate action flick - a total adrenaline rush of continual action, one long explosive car chase. It is a practical effect picture. Everything you see on the screen is real. Real people driving those trucks, real trucks rolling over and crashing in the Libyan desert. Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy did most of their own stunts. The production had military advisers for the battles.

This is a man’s world. A world out of balance. A world where aggressive masculine traits have overshadowed maternal traits such as responsibility, nurturing, and caring. The result is chaos. The Earth’s resources have been destroyed. It has become a wasteland.

Max (Tom Hardy) is captured by slaves - pawns of the powerful warlords. They drag him, kicking and screaming, to the citadel where he becomes the lowest of all of the slaves. He is used as a blood bag for the half-lives - the slaves who don’t have long to live. They are only kept alive long enough to sacrifice themselves in battle.

The citadel seems to hold the only source of water. The one who controls the water, controls the people. And Warlord Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrn) controls the water.

“It is by my hand that you will rise up from the ashes of this world.” With a flourish, he releases the water to the desperate citizens.

Imperator Furiosa (bad-ass Charlize Theron), a seasoned warrior entrusted with the water truck, escapes with Immortan Joe’s pregnant “wives” (ie. his best breeders). When Joe searches the compound for them, the nursemaid taunts him, “You cannot own human beings. Eventually they push back.”

“I want them back!” Immortan Joe bellows. “They are my property!”

In this patriarchal world, the women are men’s property, kept as sexual objects and breeders. Their chastity belts are a symbol of how men control women’s bodies, sexuality and reproductive rights. Even mother’s milk is extracted, not to nourish infants, but as a product to be sold for profit.

The breeders are a metaphor for the feminine side of humanity. They have witnessed man’s atrocities. They see how old men enslave young men and throw them away as the fodder of war. “Our babies will not be warriors!” they proclaim. “We’re going to the green place of the many mothers.” They fight for a future for their children.

A half-life war boy named Nux (Nicholas Hoult) attaches Max to the hood of his dune buggy as his blood bag. “If I’m gonna die, I’m gonna die a hero on Fury Road!” he cries. Immortan Joe uses religion to control the slaves. The promise of the after-life inspires his slaves to sacrifice their lives to his will. Nux proclaims that it is his destiny to return the breeders to the almighty Immortan Joe.

An accident frees Max from the front of the buggy. Max, only concerned with his own survival, carjacks the women’s ride.

Nux is persistent in his pursuit. “I am the man who grabs the sun while flying to Valhalla! I live, I die, I live again.” The women are even protective of Nux. When he is captured, they don’t let Max kill him. “He is just a boy.” Perhaps it’s their maternal side; perhaps they relate to him as a fellow slave. Nux tries to convince them to return to Immortan Joe by preaching his word. “By his hands he’ll lift us up.” One of the wives replies, “You’re an old man’s battle fodder. He killed everyone and everything.” “He’s not to blame.” “Then who killed the world?”

Through the women’s courageous example of compassion and hope, both Nux and Max grow. Max goes from animalistic survival instincts (only out for himself) to fighting to protect the future of humanity alongside the matriarchs.

Right now there is an imbalance in our patriarchal country. We have forgotten to protect and uphold our feminine side, our responsibility for our children and our home. “Mad Max: Fury Road” shows what happens when masculine aggression isn’t tempered with responsibility and caring. The worst masculine characteristics are given free rein to destroy, fight, conquer, exploit, enslave, and rape.

It took over 15 years for “Mad Max: Fury Road” to come to fruition, which may have been a blessing since the themes are so timely and relevant to our issues today. This dystopian vision may seem outrageous, but our planet is currently being devastated by our single-minded pursuit of profit at all cost.

This year, Arizona representatives snuck a last minute rider into a must-pass military budget bill to allow a national park (protected by law) to be mined by a foreign company. Extracting the minerals will use too much of our diminishing ground water supply. And mining companies leave behind poisonous tailings that leak into our rivers and lakes. To make matters worse, our representatives are currently fighting to allow mining in all of our National Parks.

As climate change reaches a dangerous tipping point, our Congress voted to decrease environmental protections such as the amount of emissions allowed from coal refineries. They continue to subsidize profitable oil companies who pollute our air and water.

In March, 47 Republicans tried to sabotage peace talks with Iran so a select few could continue to profit from our multi-billion dollar military complex. Our young men are cannon fodder for old men who profit from war.

It is inspiring how some big action directors are making an effort to counteract some of our negative, fear based programming. For instance, “The Hunger Games” demonstrated how the government uses fear and the media to control us. Visionary filmmakers, like "Mad Max: Fury Road" director George Miller, are using the subtext to illuminate important issues of our time.

Movie blessings,
Jana Segal-Stormont

Oscar News: "Mad Max: Fury Road" WON Best Directing, Cinematography, Editing, Costume Design, Makeup and Hairstyling, Sound Mixing, Production Design, Sound Editing.

"Mad Max: Fury Road" was also nominated for Best Picture and Visual Effects.


1 comment:

Angeline D'Balentine said...

Wow, Jana. That was an excellent review. I really loved your insight on the perspective of the "read between the lines" themes that are present in this rendition of Mad Max. I whole heartedly agree with many of your points.