Peter Fenzel, Mark Lee, and Matthew Wrather overthink Mad Max: Fury Road, starring Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron
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- Mad Max, The Road Warrior, Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome
- Yojimbo (film) on Wikipedia
The exploding spears that Pete complained about were one of my favorite bits of production design, actually, because of the way that — depending on the particular scene and how they were photographed — they managed to evoke bronze-age chariot cavalry, Moby-Dick style whale hunting, and the Banderillero stage of bullfighting. These are just fleeting impressions that I got while I was watching (because I was mostly too busy having my face melted), but you could totally dig down into the different versions of masculinity on display in those three very different activities…
p.s. the fronty-shippy-carvey word you were looking for is, quite literally, “figurehead.” (I know, right?)
p.p.s. much has been made over the way that this film treats women, and with good reason. But I was more struck by the way it treats old people.
Oh, I didn’t mean to complain about them in an absolute sense – they were awesome! And in context, they were very effective!
I was more trying to point out that they reflected the nature of the kind of warfare these people are engaging in – which put in context their use of music on the battlefield.
No, they were great!!
Old people? How so?
Just that every action movie I see from now on, I little voice in my head is gonna be like “So why does this film NOT have a sniper-granny? Like seriously why?”
But it’s more than just that. Between Joe, his upper management, and the Vuvalini, you get a badass action movie where there are senior citizens taking part on every side without anyone so much as pausing to comment about it. I’ve never seen that before. I mean, there’s R.E.D. and The Expendables, but age is the premise for those movies.
And not just old actors, but old characters! Introduced as old!
The fistfight between Shatner, Patrick Stewart and Malcolm McDowell in Star Trek: Generations doesn’t count.
Wez in The Road Warrior is not gay, at least if you ask the actor about it. He claims it was a father son type of relationship.
Because you always keep your adoptive adult son on a leash, how else would you keep track of him?
Right! And they just wore pants that reflected what kinds of fellows they were! Chaps, you know! Couple’a chaps!
Like a post apocalyptic version of those monkey backpack leashes parents use now a days
I have to disagree with Pete about Nux. His story line was one of my favorites. Much has been made about the film as a feminist text, but it goes above and beyond just criticizing what Patriarchy does to women and also addresses what it does to men. Nux is so completely taken with this toxic machismo that when he fails so spectacularly (in front of his Patriarch, no less) it breaks him. “We are not things” doesn’t just apply to the Wives, it also applies to the War Boys, who are indeed not just things to be sacrificed in battle. Nux is central to that idea.
Yeah, Nux is great all the way through. There’s an incredibly important little moment that he carries near the beginning of the film: at the moment near the beginning when the other Warboy gets shot, just before he throws himself off the truck to go out in a blaze of glory (the Banderillero moment for those spears), Nux is looking on from a distance and cheering him on. I don’t remember his exact dialogue — it’s pretty meaningless stuff at any rate. “Come on! Yes! He’s going to do it!” or something like that. But the way he plays the scene does more to make Immortan Joe’s death cult feel like a concrete reality than anything else in the film. It’s one thing to show a crazy zealot character spray painting his teeth and blowing himself up. It’s quite another to see his brother zealot looking on, proud of his brother’s triumphant apotheosis, and awed and humbled by the gravity of the religious moment.
As for his conversion — I agree with Pete that it felt sudden, but I also agree with Joel that it felt necessary. In one of the later George Romero zombie films, there’s this seemingly random scene where a bunch of zombies slaughter and devour a pasture full of horses, while the main characters look on in confusion. (Romero zombies usually only eat people.) An interviewer asked him about it, and Romero said something like this: “At this point, the zombies aren’t really going anywhere. If we’re going to survive, we have to live alongside them. And that means that, eventually, the zombies are going to have to find something else to eat.” That’s what Nux’s arc is about, right? If the film is going to have any kind of affirmative message, there has to be some way for a terminal crazy to walk back from the edge.
The cars reminded me of Warhammer 40K mixed with Borderlands 2 and the OTI Spike Equilibirum
In Warhammer, you move around these little painted figures and play essentially Starcraft the table top game. The Orcs have a belief that if they paint their cars red, they go faster.
In Mad Max they add explosions and fire to their cars. Why, because explosions make the care more awesome! (not only because we the viewer find it awesome, but because the War Boys think that awesomeness = science)
A special observation about the Flame Guitarist. If you look behind him, you see a lot of amps, but you also see phonograph horns attached to the side to have MORE AMPLIFICATION. What’s better, if you look closely, you see some of those phonograph horns are actually french horns that are just welded to the side to make it look louder. Why add french horns to the side? Because MORE HORNS MEANS MORE LOUD *insert guitar riff* . This is the Spike Equilibrium for french horns, I suppose. The outcome is unchanged, but it makes great optics.
As for BL2, I am thinking of the part where you find the psycho hideout with the giant tribute to Marcus the arms dealer. They build him a shrine because he gives them guns that shoot fire. The War Boys aren’t just traumatized by the fact that they saw the world get nuked, but they have also been driven crazy from being in a Motor-Cult.
I view the War Boys and the aesthetic of their world–flaming guitars and all–as a result of when the world took a turn for the worse. Its not clear how far into the future Mad Max is set, but the world has been this way long enough for an entire generation to grow up not remembering the time before. All the senior citizens in this world were probably children and have warped memories of the way the world worked before the fall of civilization. This lead to conflating “cool” with important.
I think Tom’s right, that a lot of the cult’s motivation is driven by things being “cool” rather than what is necessary. The flaming guitar is only necessary because they are too culturally immature to do without. These are War Boys after all, not War Men.
The Spike Equilibrium was on my “to mention” list for this show, and I’m sad we never got to it.
Holy Mother of Milkduds, everyone, that was a PRACTICAL PROP that was ACTUALLY BEING PLAYED during filming:
I’m going to abuse my ability to post HTML in the comments so you all can see the glory that is MAD MAX: FURRY ROAD.
Etsy link: https://www.etsy.com/listing/233643275/mad-max-fury-road-cats-9x12in-print
(Via our friends at Tor.com)
I loved this film.
If memory serves, in Beyond Thunderdome the survivors were using the methane gas provided by pigs as the fossil fuel had all but run out. But pigs need to be fed. One thing the Austrailian Wasteland has plenty of is sunshine. So where is the Mad Maxium Elon Musk with his Convoy of Teslas and closely guarded solar panels and Powerwalls? Such a person would totally win the Post Apocalypse.
Man this was a fun fun podcast, I love the heck outta it.
So Fuel efficient war cars? So imagine a fleet of fuel efficient war prius-es (? Prii?) on the warpath? Heck Tesla missed out on a marketing opportunity, a post-apocalyptic ready Tesla Model mad Max
Or maybe this film serves as a didactic tale about the folly of using fossil fuels when alternatives are available. There is also the point that although we don’t know exactly what caused the Apocalypse, we can deduce that it was most probably climate-change related. And the survivors/descendants of the survivors STILL can’t stop using fossil fuel!
Whatever the case, advanced technology is no longer in play. So there go the desalination plants. Unless someone near the ocean had the foresight to keep one running.
Hmm now we’re all getting into fanfic territory, we need Fenzel to adapt his Docking Jay fanfic to the wastelands of Mad Max!
As long as we are in fanfic territory, I would like to see how The Citadel is run now that Furiousa and Company have supposedly liberated everyone. Will they establish a democratic government with a fair distribution of resources, or will another despot inevitably take over?
I suspect this is what the sequel will be about, and I suspect it will not be easy or go well. Otherwise, I think Max would have been up there on that lift with them, being carried up to privilege.
Pete, normally I’d argue that the way this series and this character are designed suggests that the sequel isn’t going to be a simple continuation of this story and these characters. Max wanders off into the wasteland, and the next time we see him he’ll be in some strange new place.
However, the fans (and the director) clearly have a lot of love for Furiosa. It’ll be tempting to bring her back. But how? Does she send messengers out to find Max and get him back to the Cidadel to fight a new threat? (This is the beginning of The Chronicles of Riddick, of course.) Or does she run into Max in the Wasteland herself, with a grim tale of how the Cidadel was overrun and destroyed?
My storytelling instincts are telling me that Max’s story and Furiosa’s story are kind of separate now. She’s always dreaming of a home, a reason to STOP driving, and now she has it. And he’s the Road Warrior, always moving, never at peace. There are ways to jam them together again, but it kind of feels right to let her go.
This all makes sense. I was mostly responding to rumors that the next Mad Max movie is already written, and was going to be called “Mad Max: Furiosa,” before its name was changed in the last month to “Mad Max: The Wasteland.”
It’s possible that Furiosa was planned for the sequel and then taken out, or the story was changed, or something. But if the rumors are right, then she’ll probably be in the next movie in some capacity.
A note that my friend pointed out to me is that “the salt” they describe as having to drive over for 162 days is actually the dried up ocean. That helps make sense of several things. 1) There is salt for such a vast space because it used to be an ocean. 2) It would take 162 days because the ocean is full of canyons and cliffs and navigating that will be challenging because there are no roads and like the Donner party who struggled across the Great Basin, traveling over sandy, salty land with no roads leads to very little progress day by day. 3) Another way to resolve the issue of traveling 162 days is that it would not actually take that long but because no one has tried and returned from crossing “the salt” that used to be the ocean the group has no way of knowing how long it will take. They are just stating the duration of time their supplies will last so that they have to find a place with fresh water, a source of fuel, and land to plant their seeds before the 162 days are up.
Also this movie takes place in Australia right? Where are the aboriginals?! I guess only white folks survived the apocalypse.
Good point. The Aboriginals are probably better equipped to survive than most groups. Perhaps they are still wandering around somewhere, not getting involved with the people we have seen so far.
There is Zoe Kravitz, aka Toast The Knowing, which is one of the coolest names ever.
Well, yes and no. Most aboriginals in Australia are pretty modern people and live in cities and towns like everybody else. The traditional aboriginal communities out in “the wilderness” were mostly annihilated during colonization, when the total aboriginal population on the continent was reduced to less than 100,000. Even today, as that population has grown almost tenfold, there are only a small number of aboriginals in the outback – less than 25% of the aboriginal population, which is still less than a million, lives in “remote” or “very remote” areas.
I’d say it’s more conspicuous that ethnic aboriginals are few or none in the movies, than that he doesn’t run into any traditional aboriginal communities. And yet in today’s more progressive climate, it’s quite possible he’ll run into them in the next movie.
We also need to keep in mind that the Warboys PAINT themselves white, they may be different shades underneath. Ditto for all the ragged masses desperate for water.
You are quite correct in that not all Aboriginals are still in the Outback. But those few who are may be better at adapting to the aftermath of the Nuclear War/Climate Change Catastrophe/Other Apocalypse-Creator.
Hey there, long-time listener/first-time caller here.
So I saw Fury Road last night, and like pretty much everyone else I was blown away by the depth of the world created in the movie, and particularly the world and culture of the Warboys, which was economically and vividly rendered. However, the more I over-think about it, the more the Breeders bother me. They are clearly McGuffins, so it’s not unusual for characters like these to be poorly drawn, or lack real motivation and development. However the contrast between the Breeders and the Warboys, who in other action movies would be cryptic cannon-fodder and yet are imbued with real interest and vitality, shows just how little attention has been paid to the Breeders. Here are a few examples:
Decoration: The Warboys look like a butoh troop, with their head’s shaved and shirtless, covered in white-powder, axle-grease eye-shadow and chrome paint sprayed into their mouths before battle. Although they look alike at a distance, up close they have individualising decorations such as scarification and face-paint. By contrast the Breeders look like they have just stepped off a fashion-shoot. Their costumes are neither particularly sexy, except that they’re skimpy, nor particularly imaginative. There are no obvious tribal tropes which would tie the Breeders to the same culture as the Warboys. If I remember correctly, only one of the Breeders has scars, and it’s ambiguous as to whether they are decorations, torture wounds or self-harm scars. And all the Breeders have salon-hair! Not one even has a side-shave! Nothing about the appearance of the Breeders affiliates them to the culture of the Warboys, Immortan Joe or the Citadel. (I would love to have seen them covered in bodypaint, or iridescent tattoos, or gems inserted under the skin, and outrageous hair full of sequins and bones and ochre!)
Motivation: The motivations of the Warboys are wonderfully nuanced, as exemplified by Nux. Of course he wants to die an honourable death and fight in Valhalla. But he’s also driven by the immediate desire not to lose status in front of his mates. And he wants to impress Immortan Joe, not just out of fanatical devotion, but because Joe will reward him for good service. And he has dreams and ambition – he wants to drive a war-rig. And he’s dying of cancer, so he’s willing to risk more for immediate glory (notice how all these desires: to be respected; to impress his boss; to drive a war-rig; to die in battle – motivate his change in allegiance. He doesn’t stop being a Warboy, in fact changing sides allows him to live all his Warboy dreams). As far as I can tell the Breeders only mention two motivations: they want to find the Green, and they don’t want to have ugly babies. We’re never told exactly why the Breeders wanted to flee the Citadel, it seems to be regarded as obvious that being locked in Immortan Joe’s vault would be terrible. But the world of Mad Max is unbelievably terrible, and being locked safely in Immortan Joe’s vault might actually, on balance, be a pretty good deal! What the Breeders left, why they left when they did, and where they think they’re going, is all left blank.
Culture: A lot of praise has been heaped onto the economical world-building of the cult of the Warboys. We get vivid glimpses of their rituals, their hierarchy, their friendships and rivalries, their beliefs and traditions, and we can see how they fit into the society of the Citadel and the regime of Immortan Joe. But the role of the Breeders is far more vague. Are they wives or concubines – does Immortan Joe use them for recreation or for heirs? Is there a hierarchy in the harem? What are their traditions and rituals? What is their status in the Citadel? These questions are unaddressed. We only see inside the harem once it is empty, and are given no hint as to how life went on in there. And the Breeders bring nothing from the harem with them – no rituals, no traditions, no pecking-order, and no rivalries or friendships beyond what we see on the trip. It’s almost as if they had never met until they climbed on board Furiosa’s war-rig. And again, nothing about them ties them to the culture of the Citadel. By contrast, we glimpse the milkmaids only twice and they say nothing, but we can immediately get a sense of their relative status and where they fit in at the Citadel.
So what does all this mean? It seems as if the Warboys and the Breeders come from different worlds. I’m going to suggest that this is because they do. The Warboys spring from the post-apocalypse wasteland of Mad Max, but the Breeders are borrowed from an entirely different post-apocalypse world: the totalitarian state of “The Handmaid’s Tale”. Whenever I see a particularly clunky piece of film-script I immediately, and with only liberal anti-Hollywood prejudice as evidence, blame a script-doctor. Close your eyes for a moment and imagine Furiosa and Max alone on the truck. The story still works fine. It’s my suspicion that around the third or fourth draft of the script someone decided that they needed a McGuffin a middle-class suburban audience could empathise with (particularly the college-aged female audience? or is that too cynical on my part?). And so five refugees from “The Handmaid’s Tale”, fleeing the Patriarchy on their way to Canada, were snatched up in a story-vortex and dumped onto Furiosa’s rig, without clothes or context, but with great hair.
I get where you’re coming from, and “The Handmaid’s Tale” is a good reference. But I don’t think that the Brides are quite as anonymous as you make them out to be. They certainly tell us why they run: because “Women are not things,” and “Our children will not be warlords.” On reconsideration, the fact that they wrote this in the silver suicide spraypaint is pretty interesting. Sure, it’s what they were able to get their hands on… but still, I got the feeling that, for Angharad at least, running away was almost as much about suicide as it was about escape. She’s very cavalier about using herself as a human shield.
I’ve been trying to tease out why I don’t find the motivations of the Brides convincing, and I think it comes down to two things.
Firstly, their motivations are framed as general negatives. “We are not things” and “our children will not be warlords” tell us what they don’t want, but give us no information about what they do want and how the intend to achieve it. In the case of “our children will not be warlords” it’s not clear what the alternative is – they want to escape to the Green Place, but we have no clue what they envision their children doing there. By contrast Nux’s seemingly negative “I don’t want to lose status to Slit” is immediately reframed as “I must drive the V8 at all costs”.
Secondly, and related to the last point about Nux, the motivations of the Brides are not embodied in any actions, except the obvious one of hiding in Furiosa’s rig. Nux’s motivations drive him to specific actions, but the brides spend most of the story along for the ride. For instance, if you don’t want your son to be a warlord there are several options readily at hand in the Citadel (abortion, infanticide, suicide), why choose to flee? There must have been a very specific motivation for this decision which went far beyond the general desire not to be a warlord-breeder, and I imagine this would motivate other related actions as the story progresses. But the Brides tend to be completely reactive, acting as situations arise without a really clear agenda beyond letting Furiosa take them to the Green Place.
None of this affects my enjoyment of the movie, which I just love the post-apocalyptic hell out of. As I said above the Brides are McGuffins and even though I feel they are poorly drawn characters this doesn’t affect the story because, as McGuffins, it’s not really about them. It’s about Furiosa, Max, and Immortan Joe. However I do feel it somewhat undercuts the reviews which rave about this as a feminist action-film, with an important message about sexual-violence. In my opinion, if you’re looking for progressive gender-discourse the Brides are fairly retrograde characters in that respect. Furiosa, on the other hand…
That is a worthy contribution to Overthinking It, and a stellar one for your first at-bat. “Assume a mistake or misstep was intentional” is one of our stock genres.
I’ll say I assumed that the breeders and the milkmaids were members of the same social group; the milkmaids must be breeders if they’re going to keep them breastfeeding. (I can’t believe some of the things that I’m typing, but this is a dystopian, post-apocalyptic hellscape. Moving on.) Joe puts the skinny ones (who honestly don’t look all that reliable for child-bearing) in his pleasure dome and let the other ones roam around the Citadel–at least, that was my take.
If that were true, and they were actually one social group with a superordinate and a subordinate caste, does it alter your reading?
I saw it as Immortan Joe attempting to achieve some measure of pre-fall purity, both culturally, and in relation to whatever leukemia, or other cancerous blood disease, was causing everybody to need constant blood transfusions – because he wanted to create an heir who would defy death by not suffering from any of the wasteland diseases or common birth defects (remember the first thing we see in the movie is a mutated, two-headed lizard).
The whole culture is built around “half life” – a combination of radioactive contamination and shortened life spans. There are no older Warboys not just because they die in combat, but becuause they die of cancer.
But Immortan Joe has access to pure groundwater, and he has access to unlimited labor through his cult, and so he goes about trying to create a single room that is free of the contaminants of the wasteland.
He’s also a hyprocrite, because his own fantasy is to create a microcosm within which his own religion could not possibly apply. He’s trying to create a child that is free from _him_, or the need for him.
To me, the milkmaids (or at least their livers) were a middle step in this. Immortan Joe would feed them the best food he could find and give them shelter, and then they would produce relatively clean milk, which would then be the only thing that would be fed to the breeders in their entirely closed off room. This way, the breeders would be much healthier than anyone on the outside.
But, being sheltered, and having their necessities provided for, sort of like college students, they then felt free to philosophize, to speculate, and to wonder about the outside. They even scrawl on their walls like children running away from home.
They don’t have a role in the citadel, because they stay in their little room that Immortan Joe has made for them and drink mother’s milk – which is hard to get enough of to be fat.
The Warboys don’t do this, because they know all that’s out there is waste and death, and because they are very aware of how limited their prospects are on Earth. But with the privilege afforded them, and the special food, and the insulation from the worst of the world, and the myth of the Green Place with the Many Mothers, the breeders become emboldened to rebel against Immortan Joe.
But it’s a rebellion born out of ignorance, and Furiosa as their guide has to mediate it and deal with its weightier implications. Thus it really becomes Furiosa’s rebellion, even though without the breeders and the ironic, privileged side of their otherwise oppressive slavery, the circumstances wouldn’t exist for it to happen.
But yeah, the breeders were sheltered and naive, and that’s kind of the point. They look a little too much like people used to look, but also a little too much like nobody used to look — sort of the human equivalent of a Toyota FJ Cruiser, a nostalgic look back at something that never really existed in this way.
And they have various independent journeys toward knowledge of the world – either by finding mentors among the older women, or by being rebellious, or, in the case of the pregnant one, by being destroyed by the world that could only barely allow them to exist in the first place.
Wow. I lift my steering wheel in salute to you, sir. That analysis really works for me and I love the way you have managed to rationalise every element I have been troubled with into a cohesive, self-consistent whole.
So in this interpretation the Breeders are less Handmaids Against the Patriarchy, more the Faces that Launched a Thousand V8s. I’m not totally convinced this is the interpretation that George Miller intended, but hey – the author is dead, from radiation poisoning, and we ride across a post-structural wasteland now. The chatter on the internet also seems to favour the former interpretation rather than your far more nuanced and interesting take. I love it.
It also makes Immortan Joe a grander, almost tragic figure. I had been musing on the question “why is Immortan Joe supposed to be bad?”. He is a warlord, but this is a world run by warlords. I don’t imagine Immortan Furiosa is going to dismiss the Warboys upon taking the mask. We don’t really see Immortan Joe doing anything cruel and unusual – he’s ruthless, but warlords have to be. On the positive side he clearly has the Citadel running like giant-clockwork, the hydroponics are producing plenty of food, there is an excess of water. So having established clean food and clean water, isn’t eugenics the next logical step? As you have said this is a world where genetic damage is killing people. I can see the slogan now: Immortan Joe, for a clean future – clean water, clean food, clean chromosomes!
So in conclusion, Immortan Joe the Consensus Builder, whose biggest dream was to rebuild a healthy society from the ashes of the old world, was overthrown by Furiosa the Terrible during a brief war which resulted in the deaths of hundreds of Warboys, the contamination of the clean-room and the breeders, and the deaths of the last of the Vulvalini.
Oh, well, you see, Immortan Joe doesn’t share. That’s the rub. His dream isn’t a healthy society, it’s a healthy self.
Although I think the clue that the breeders don’t really understand their relationship with Immortan Joe as well as Furiosa does is their refrain “Who broke the world??”
Immortan Joe is a really bad dude, but he didn’t break the world. All the people who broke the world are dead.
That makes the breeders seekers of the truth, not possessors of it. Not the whole truth, anyway.
Not for nothing, but I’m guessing a diet of breastmilk would make you fat. #paleo
Well actually, Matthew Wrather on your Latin discourse. The words need not agree if they are proper names and not titles. The argument could have been about why it’s Imperator and not Imperatrix not about Furiosa (Maybe the writers didn’t know Latin and just use it because it’s fancy).
To be fair this has happened before, there was an Egyptian Pharaoh who was a woman but referred to herself with the male Pharaoh and not the female variant
“I think it’s like “Obscurus Lupa.”
But a case can be made that since “Imperator Furiosa” and “Obscurus Lupa” are meant to be proper names, normal agreement need not apply.
Sorta like Gaius Mucius Scaevola and Gaius Caligula.”
Not to mention, of course, that spelling names wrong is more a part of this series than, by this point, Mel Gibson is.
I loved your commentary on Fury Road and the previous movies. My SO and I were discussing the podcast and the comment you made about the salt plains trip taking so long. You were having trouble placing why traveling accross Australia would take over a 150 days to cross when crossing the US would only take 3. Max indicated that even after all those days they would still be traveling.
Australia’s salt flats are big, but they aren’t that big. What would be that impossible to travel is the now dead and dried up Pacific ocean. This is a land so dried and weather wracked that they have miles long roving firestorms, And cloudless skies- there is no more above ground water.
Max must remember his geography, or at least enough to remember that after the first few hundred miles, the landscape would transform into gigantic impossible mountain ranges, and fathomless canyons.
No wonder why turning around seemed like a good idea!
My mind was wandering at work today when it suddenly hit me, like a diamond bullet: the scene when Max walks off into the fog and confronts the Bullet Farmer is lifted lock, stock and barrel from The Seven Samurai, specifically the scene when Kyuzo walks down the road into the fog to capture a musket. Max even returns with a tarpaulin full of weapons and ammunition, just as Kyuzo brings back his trophy.
I’m not sure whether there is any deeper significance to this other than it’s a cool scene and Miller et al wanted to shout out to Kurosawa. Has anyone spotted any other meta-textual references?
That’s a wonderful catch. I’d suggest that maybe the final scene is an echo of Seven Samurai too. In Kurosawa’s film, we see the villagers singing in the fields, while the samurai stand alone and muse, “Again we are defeated.” The bond that the samurai and the villagers had is broken the second the threat is gone.
Similarly here, the people of the citadel are celebrating the happiest day of their lives, but Max doesn’t even stick around to say goodbye. He just drifts away, and no one in the crowd even acknowledges him. It’s like he’s invisible.
But on the other hand, it’s a different moment because the samurai are mourning the guys who didn’t survive the battle. I don’t think Max has a similar sense of loss. But maybe he does! Maybe he’s able to imagine a lift where he settles down with Furiosa and puts down roots in the citadel, but he knows he can’t. So it’s a similar sense of, “I won something for the villagers, but I still have nothing.”
I didn’t notice anything as interesting as the Seven Samurai thing, but there are some shout-outs to earlier films in the series. Immortan Joe’s sons are obviously patterned after Master-Blaster. Early on when Nux is trying to convince his partner that he’s strong enough to drive, he headbutts him and they splice in a frame or two of pure white at the moment of impact, a gimmick that they used in Road Warrior when Wez headbutts the captured scout.
Long time reader, first time writer.
So I imagined writing an article for OTI and entitling it “The Death of the Phallic Symbol.” I am using _Death_ here in the hyperbolic sense like Barthes or fenzel (http://www.overthinkingit.com/2012/01/31/death-author-katy-perry/).
I am amazed at how much talk there is on the internet about this film being feminist by talking about “strong female charaters.” Sure, that is true, Furiosa and the Breeders are unwilling to be treated like _Things_ and used for the purposes dictated to them by the male hierarchy. Yes it is cool to see Furiosa kick a$$ and take names. But these discussions are missing a beautiful element that is strongly feminist in my opinion. Furiosa’s mission becomes one of co-opting phallic symbols for use by self-determining women.
First off, the war rig is clearly a phallic symbol. In the beginning of the film it is stolen by Furiosa, but used in a traditionally male sense as a place to provide for (with water and milk) and protect (with armor, weapons, and redundant systems) the women inside. At the end of the film, the rig is abandoned by creating the best empowered vagina metaphor I have ever seen. (Are there others in other films?) The women do not need to co-opt phallus-es any more, they can use their own symbols to achieve their own ends. By closing off the passage to the men who would be rulers, the women have enabled themselves to remake society in a way that conforms to their own self-determination.
The Citadel itself is also a phallic symbol that is retaken by the women at the conclusion of the film. They use it to build a home, and plant seeds, traditionally female roles but feminist because they are chosen by the women, not forced upon them by society or men.
There is a great section in “XENOCIDE,” one of the “Ender’s Game” sequels, where one of the characters describes the differences between men and women in an interesting way. The end of Mad Max Fury Road bears out this idea. Valentine, the character from “XENOCIDE,” says that human history is the conflict between male sexual values and female sexual values. Men have lots of seed and their interests are served best by sowing that seed in as many potential mates as possible to produce the maximum number of offspring in the harsh world we live in, so fighting and violence are the result of competition for mating rights and the strongest men get the healthiest mates (sounds like Immorten Joe right?). Women have a huge investment in reproduction, so women want not only the strongest mate who can best provide for them while they are engaged in child bearing and rearing, but also the most stable mate who will stay with them and not follow their pecker to greener pastures. So civilization (Roman, British, and American Empires) is an embracing of the women’s reproductive need for stability and nomadic cultures (Mongols, Huns, and Sioux) are representative of men’s reproductive drives. All of this is to say that, by the women reclaiming the Citadel at the end of the film, they are establishing their rightful place at the heart of a stable, localized civilization. They will govern in a way that facilitates women achieving their goals either reproductively (like the breeders) or vocationally (like Furiosa). This also explains why Max does not remain within their new home, because he falls into the category of nomadic men. His character does not fit within a stable society.