Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Perspective of George Miller: Mad Max (1979)


Marilyn said...

He gives good vanishing point.

Greg said...

I'd only ever seen the "American accent" dubbed version before now. Finally, the original is avialable in HD and I must say, it was a lot better made than I remembered.

And perspective shots? Practically the whole movie! It stays visually interesting throughout.

Christopher said...

it IS a beaut to behold and never a dull moment..I'd always favored Road Warrior over this one ,till I watched it again recently..

Neil Sarver said...

I don't want to choose between the first two Maxes. I think they both have interesting benefits.

But, yeah, the American accent version is strangely distracting and definitely isn't as good as The Road Warrior.

Greg said...

Christopher and Neil: I'm with Christopher in that I'd always gone with The Road Warrior, aka Mad Max 2 over the original until seeing the original again in HD with the original accents. All these years I'd heard the original accents were too thick to understand and so, for the American action market, they had to dub it. What bullshit! There's not a thick accent in the lot.

But most importantly, the combination of the stunning cinematography (far advanced from what most folk's perception of how an action movie should look and extremely fluid camera movement by DP David Eggby) with the much harder, relentless storyline gave this one the upper hand upon rewatching it.

J.D. said...

Yeah, I prefer MAD MAX 2 for its post-apocalyptic futureworld meets Western vibe but the first film is a fantastic, stripped down revenge picture with one of the best car chase sequences ever put to film kicking things off. Whenever I see MAD MAX on TV I always have to watch that opening car chase. The way Miller conveys speed and uses editing create such a dynamic sequences is something else!

Sheila O'Malley said...

Nice! Beautiful screengrabs.

Greg said...

J.D., the stuntwork on the whole far surpasses most of what you see today. Since CGI is employed for so much of what used to be done before the camera, when you see something like this you're reminded at how much more weight the action has when it's real!

It's a great opening sequence to be sure, I just wish after all the set-up of Max stopping the chase, it actually had been Max stopping the chase. Instead, for reasons I don't quite understand, Miller has Nightrider start crying, have a nervous breakdown and essentially wreck his own car. You think to yourself, "Well, it didn't even matter that Max was there so... what the hell was the point of the buildup?"

It's the only flaw of an otherwise great chase sequence.

Greg said...

Thanks, Sheila! I was struck by how engaging the cinematography was for a type of movie most people wouldn't think to associate with beautiful, stark imagery.

J.D. said...


Well, I always figured that the purpose of the Nightrider's breakdown was that after easily dealing with Max's buddies, he suddenly faced a real threat and couldn't handle it. No matter what he did, he couldn't shake Max's car which stayed right on his bumper. And, the scene is supposed to set-up what a badass Max is - he rattles the Nightrider so badly with his awesomeness that the guy looses it and then beefs it at that roadside accident.

Greg said...

I don't doubt that's the intention, I'm just saying it's a half-hearted attempt. Max doesn't really do much to rattle him any more than the other guys do. Hell, Nightrider had to slam on the brakes to avoid being shotgunned and that didn't rattle him. Why does Max being on his bumper rattle him so? And he starts to cry well before Max even gets on his bumper so I can't even say that's it. It just seems that more could have been done with the climax of that scene than was.

J.D. said...


I suppose you're right but I guess it never bothered me before. And I also think that the reason Max rattles the Nightrider where the others failed, just remember how the other cops tried to go after this guy. Goose doesn't really get close to the guy before wiping out. The two inept guys keep crashing their car as does the car in pursuit.

Really, Max is the only who gets really close and does so effortlessly and VERY fast. Hence, the Nightrider coming unglued.

bill r. said...

I love both of the first two MAX films, and think they're both extraordinarily creative, but I do prefer ROAD WARRIOR. For one thing, Humungus is such an astonishing villain: "You disappoint me...puppy." That is such an unnerving line, and his voice his perfect.

For ages, I'd only seen the dubbed MAD MAX, as had all my brothers, and two of those brothers almost went crazy trying to find the undubbed version. They never did, until, one day, it was like "Hey, go on down to Best Buy. It's ten bucks." It was all too much to absorb.

And, obviously, the undubbed version is much better, and it's impossible to understand why anyone would think dubbing was necessary in the first place. However, it was disappointing to learn that the worst line delivery in the dubbed version -- "Why don't we go for a RIDE!?" -- isn't much better in the Australian version. I'm pretty sure it was that line that spurred the quest for the original in the first place, and Gibson's delivery is sort of goofy. Not as atrocious as the American one, but still kind of bad.

bill r. said...

Oh, also, "Max Rockatansky" is the world's greatest name.

Greg said...

JD, it doesn't bother me so much it ruins the sequence or anything, and what you say certainly has merit as the rationale behind the scene. I just wish after the build-up there had been a more direct payoff. Like Max coming up alongside Nightrider and clipping him into a roll and flameout. But still, a great opening sequence, on that I fully agree.

Greg said...

And, obviously, the undubbed version is much better, and it's impossible to understand why anyone would think dubbing was necessary in the first place.

It's a riddle wrapped inside an enigma wrapped inside a big, juicy "What the fuck?" I half expected the dialogue to be as hard to understand as "Louie, Louie" sung in a thick Scottish brogue filtered through a clogged sewage pipe and yet, damn, it barely sounded any different from a rough and tumble American accent. Who in the hell made the decision to dub it anyway?

I'm sure the reason I now prefer Mad Max over The Road Warrior is partly because I just saw it, partly because The Road Warrior doesn't have the gritty brutality of gangs killing mothers and children and partly because I've seen The Road Warrior more times than I can remember. One thing's for certain: I don't ever want to see Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome again and no one can make me. Roger Ebert said it was the best of the trilogy.



bill r. said...

I think Ebert also said that, at the time, STAR TREK IV: HERE ARE SOME WHALES was the best of THOSE movies. I guess the dude just likes goofy shit.

Christopher said...

Road Warrior reminded me of the old Republic serials with its slapdash futuristic inventions,neverending stunts,old school action music score and speed!
Kids today that think CGI is cool need to be strapped to the hood of a car! :o))

Greg said...

Kids today that think CGI is cool need to be strapped to the hood of a car! :o))

Like the feral boy!

Bill, I just re-read Ebert's review of Thunderdome. Holy Canole! I think he may have had an orgasm writing that review. He must have had a bad cold that day and was hopped up on codeine or something when he saw it.

Margaret Benbow said...

I love the Max/Nightrider scene the way it is, because it's dead subtle and yet powerful. It shows that Max--just with his killer cool steely mind--can break and grind the psycho Nightrider into a little wailing puking infant who destroys HIMSELF. Stone awesome.

Greg said...

It is a great chase, as I said, but I maintain as explanation for my own take on it, I see Nightrider break down without much help from Max. And the speed that Miller gives that chase (through actual high speeds and slightly sped up film in places) feels so much more real and dangerous than the stuff you see today, where any accident or wipeout is computerized.

bill r. said...

It shows that Max--just with his killer cool steely mind--can break and grind the psycho Nightrider into a little wailing puking infant who destroys HIMSELF. Stone awesome.

Yeah. Nicely put, Margaret. Mind you, I can see where you, Greg, are coming from as well, as Max's badassery is introduced without him having to actually DO anything, which is sort of odd. But the way the Nightrider just crumbles when he realizes who he's now facing is pretty awesome.

By the way, back to the dubbed version: is it just me, or is the one moment that isn't dubbed in that version when Max cries out after Bubba Zanetti runs over his arm. That sounds like Gibson to me.

By the way, part 2: Bubba Zanetti. What a fantastic name. So let's go through some of the best names in the first two MAD MAX films:

Max Rockatansky
Jim Goose
Bubba Zanetti
The Humungus (who is also, it should be noted, the Ayatollah of Rock and Rollah)

Now let's look at some of the unique names in BEYOND THUNDERDOME:

Aunty Entity
Dr. Dealgood
Mr. Skyfish
Anna Goanna
Mr. Scratch
Finn McCoo

Is it just me, or does that second batch of names seem a lot more strained than the first one?

Christopher said...

I saw about an hour of Beyond Thunderdome when it first hit Cable and couldn't take it anymore..a good example of how alot of money will buy alot of SHIT!..

Greg said...

Bill, it's not just you, the second batch of names is absolutely trying its hardest to have oddball graphic novel-type names whereas the first two have that oddball graphic novel feel naturally. And I'm not trying to harp on Ebert too much, just point out that his sensibility with these things tends to run more towards whimsically goofy more often than not which is why Thunderdome and Return of the Jedi are his two favorites of trilogies in which almost no one ranks the third as even slightly better than bad.

I don't know about the dubbed scream though because it's been years since I've seen the dubbed version now. And now that I've seen the original version I doubt I'll ever watch it again anyway.

Greg said...

Christopher, you got that right. Money can't buy a good movie but it can buy a lot of shit to throw up on the screen.

Arbogast said...

I like a lot of things about ... Beyond Thunderdome without thinking it boils down to a good movie. But still... I'd rather watch it than, oh, a lot of things.

I remember in college there was a Jenny Agutter look-alike in the drama department and we'd both seen Mad Max and thought we were the only ones in the world who'd seen it. Imagine our joy when it was announced that Mad Max 2 was imminent. Why that didn't get the two of us into bed together I'll never understand.

Greg said...

I like that Max is a roaming nomad, dusty and dirty, barely hanging on by what he can scrape together and yet maintains a killer mullett, diligently cutting his hair on top to keep it up.

I also like that here, as in most post-apocalyptic movies (good or bad), without benefit of a Gilette factory pumping out new razors and shaving cream, somehow, someway, they don't grow beards. I'm clean-shaven myself but if being clean-shaven meant honing down the jagged end of a rock and scraping away at my face, fuck it, I'd just let it grow.

Christopher said...

I don't dig that kind of dusty barren future,rag clad,mullet headed,all the sudden theres Tina Turner and Vegas showgirls kinda crap!

Greg said...

And the kids. Don't forget the kids. Thunderdome's biggest sin I think is that it attempted to be for everybody rather than being a true follow-up to Mad Max 2. And to be for everybody you got to throw in some kids and make sure it's PG-13, not R like its two predecessors.

Adam Ross said...

I think the worst line deliveries in the dubbed version happen between Max and his wife right after the first chase:

"It's the Goose honey, you know the Goose!"

"Ohh, that feels so ... good!"

The first one sounds like it's taken from a pre-war teen romance serial. The one dubbed voice I actually prefer is the Toecutter's. The undubbed voice is so quiet and hardly as menacing as the American one.

One more thing: a scene that always fascinated me is when that asshole lobs a hubcap and nails Goose's windshield. How the hell did Miller film that? I'm sure it's trick photography but it syncs up so perfectly.

Zuma said...

great blog, enjoying it.
came across this post and dug it lots. i appreciate perspective too and anyone who points out its being utilized well in film.

re: max & nightrider, there's a valid question there, but i'd add this infobit; the game of chicken. playing chicken is an all or nothing high stakes game. lose it & even if you survive, the other guy pwns yer butt.