Film Micrœview #195: Mad Max: Road Warrior (1981)

05.03.2015 § Leave a comment

Rating: Good.

Rewatched the classic Mad Max film in anticipation of the reboot. It occurs to me that the film is symphonic in nature. This more than just superficially that it gets by with almost no dialog. The characters are less instrumental in shifting plot around as much as they are like motifs woven through a textural tapestry of post-apocalyptic desert, gasoline, and carnage. The gyropilot, for example, is constantly appearing, disappearing, and reappearing through the movie, like a voice or melody. And there are very few locations: the settlement, and the crashed tanker, and the action mostly goes back and forth between those two, like a four-part symphony structure.

I also observe that unlike the famous car chase from Raiders of the Lost Ark (my previous review, incidentally, and also from 1981) it rarely feels contrived or scripted. It’s a completely different aesthetic: haphazard, the harshest expression of the chaotic lives these people live. And it is paced deliberately as well, against that chaos. A bad guy gets shot in the arm. He’s not instantly discarded. We must maintain the knowledge that he’s still there hanging on. Eventually a bad guy car pulls up and HELPS HIM UP. He’s not out of commission, he just needed a boost. Now he’s going after the cockpit again. Genius. And all of the good guys are not supernaturally good or “in the zone”. In fact one of them is annoying goofy and sucks. They don’t get glamorous moments of heroics, not even the warrior lady.

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