Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome (Miller, Ogilvie, 1985)

George Miller creates a complete stylistic reversal with Beyond Thunderdome, replacing the open and desolate frames of Mad Max and The Road Warrior with busy compositions bursting with cluttered interiors and primitive warriors caged by a shrinking world of sand and shit. Even the exterior action scenes represent a cluster of suffocating motion.

It’s as if the clash between natural beauty and technology has produced a sandy purgatory where humans eager to experience a world long forgotten return to incomplete origin stories for comfort and hope. While not a great film by any measure, Beyond Thunderdome sports many interesting scenes which complicate and expand Miller’s obsessions with widescreen photography and environmental mise-en-scene.

The Road Warrior (Miller, 1981)

George Miller moves toward a more mythological and obscure representation of Max in The Road Warrior, a fantastic sequel utilizing a larger budget to create more demanding spectacle within a dusty, smokey, and bloody mise-en-scene. Miller also begins to formulate a hierarchical pattern of compositions directly tied to themes of greed and fear, where the only pertinent colors remain the haunting blue of the skies above and stark reds of death on the ground. Everything else fades into the brown of a desolate Mother Earth.

Mad Max (Miller, 1979)

Summer ’08 will be my time to revisit the old days, the hard-nosed academic days, in an effort to create a fresh piece of research/sample writing for upcoming Fall applications. I’ve set my sights on the films of Aussie George Miller, a director whose motifs and themes are becoming more crucial with each passing day – just take a look at your local gas prices. Instead of writing reviews for these films, I’ll be posting images crucial to my examination of Miller’s filmography. Here’s a few that highlight my favorite Miller motif: brutal technology framed by natural beauty, from his “debut” feature Mad Max.

Apocalypto (Gibson, 2006)

The most “Hollywood” film of last year doesn’t contain a word of English, but every plot point and twist still rear their expected and shameless heads. Call it, mainstream streamlined globally for your blood quenched pleasure. Gibson’s chase film isn’t the travesty I expected, mixing in some tense action scenes with beautiful wide shots of the jungle wilderness. However, it’s overt machismo, complete lack of character, and disregard for a female perspective make for a long, preachy journey. With all the money in the world, Mel decided to do this? Goes to show the guy can’t direct a lick, playing up the gore/shock value while dumbing down the story. However, his films demand to be seen for some odd, train wreck appeal which oozes from their very hardened core.