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Mad Max

Entry updated 30 January 2017. Tagged: Film.

Film (1979). Mad Max Pty. Directed by George Miller. Written by James McCausland, Miller, based on a story by Miller. Cast includes Tim Burns, Mel Gibson, Hugh Keays-Byrne and Joanne Samuel. 100 minutes, cut to 91 minutes. Colour.

This low-budget exploitation movie builds up to the vigilante-style revenge of spaced-out policeman Max Rockatansky (Gibson) – who is almost as disturbed as his antagonists – on the motorcycle gang that killed his wife and child. It proved to be the successful harbinger of a boom in Post-Holocaust sf films where a dying civilization is pitted against a growing barbarism. Miller, whose debut feature this was, is extremely economical with data about just what (other than fuel shortages) has happened to create this crumbling of the social structure in Australia. Nonetheless, his vision of anarchy's spread – the atmosphere is reminiscent of John Carpenter's Assault on Precinct 13 (1976) – is credible and well achieved. The film's instant success was due to the panache (and great skill) with which the chase sequences and spectacular vehicle demolitions were mounted. Prints shown in the USA were dubbed so that audiences there should not be subjected to the brutalities of the Australian accent.

The novelization is Mad Max (1979; vt Mad Max 1 1985) by Miller and others writing as by Terry Kaye; sequels are Mad Max 2 (1981), Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985) and Mad Max: Fury Road (2015). [PN]

see also: Ace Books; Cinema; SF Music.


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