Student: Nina Claiche

H231 AUSTRALIAN CINEMA CRITICAL REVIEW & BIBLIOGRAPHY

ON THE FILM MAD MAX: BEYOND THUNDERDOME

 

PART ONE: FILM INFORMATION

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome

* LIST OF PRINCIPAL CAST AND CREDITS:

DIRECTED BY: Dr George Miller and George Ogilvie

WRITING CREDITS: Terry Hayes (I) Dr George Miller (II)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Dean Semler

PRODUCED BY: Steve Amezdroz, Marcus D'Arcy, Terry Hayes, George Miller and Doug Mitchell

PRODUCTION CO: Kennedy-Miller

LEAD ACTORS: Mel Gibson --------------------- Mad Max

Tina Turner--------------------- Aunt Entity

Robert Grubb ----------------- Pigkiller

Frank Thring ------------------ Collector

Paul Larsson ------------------ Blaster

Angelo Rissotto --------------- Master

* RELEASE DATES:

USA: July 1985

AUSTRALIA: 8 August 1985

FRANCE: 25 September 1985

WEST GERMANY: 25 September 1985

FINLAND: 11 October 1985

SWEDEN: 11 October 1985

* BOX OFFICE FIGURES:

BUDGET: 12 Million dollars Australian

GROSS: SEK $6,699,823 (Sweden)

$36.2 M (USA)

Admissions $97,132 (Finland)

$194,588 (Sweden)

  • BIBLIOGRAPHICAL DETAILS OF INTERVIEWS WITH FILM MAKERS:

Goldberg, Lee, 1995, Science fiction filmmaking in the 1980’s, Regal , London

List of interviews included:

G Miller pp 142-150

Terry Hayes pp 150-160

George Ogilvie pp 161-167

O’Regan Tom, 1996, Australian National Cinema, Routledge, London

Bouzerau Laurent, 1996, Ultra Violent Movies, Carol Publishing Group, USA

 

* BIBLIOGRAPHICAL DETAILS OF REVIEWS IN NEWSPAPERS, JOURNALS, BOOKS:

Roger Ebert, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, Sunday Times newspaper, Chicago, Sept 1985

http://www.suntimes.com/ebert/ebert_reviews/1985/07/1609.html

Salanches, Phillipe, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, Premiere, France, Sept 1985

* DETAILS OF FILM'S ON-LINE PRESENCE IN WEB LITERATURE:

Mad Max Chronlogy

Mad Max - the chronology of the post-haulocaust movies by George Miller, Byron Kennedy and Terry Hayes

http://purl.org/Net/madmax, 2051 bytes, 1999/02/10

Mad Max - HOME

http://www.madmax.com/, 1094 bytes, 1999/11/05

Open Directory - Arts: Movies: Series: Mad Max

About dmoz/add URL/update URL/become an editor/feedback the entire directory/Mad Max Top: Arts: Movies: Series: Mad Max (7) Chronology of the world of MM

http://dmoz.org/Arts/Movies/Series/MadMax, 4951 bytes, 2000/04/21

Mad Max

Serie di film di Mad Max

http://www.intercom.publinet.it/1999/mm3.html, 4947 bytes, 2000/02/03

* DETAILS ON HOW I COLLECTED INFORMATION FOR SEARCH:

I collected some of the information for this search from the world wide web by searching the web for anything listed under Mad Max. There were at least four sites which provided important information about Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. The rest of the information I obtained through books from Murdoch library on Australian cinema.

 

 

PART TWO: CRITICAL REVIEW OF FILM AND ITS LITERATURE

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, directed by George Miller and George Ogilvie, tells the story of two post holocaustic societies both struggling to put the fragments of truth together in the right order. Into these two societies enters and a nomad salvager and destroyer called Max. Released in 1985, the film had a high budget, and earned a considerable profit, and is still earning money from video rentals and sales, as well as memorabilia. Mad Max 3 has several web sites dedicated to itself, as well as the other Mad Max films. Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome is considered to be a classic Australian film as well as a blockbuster. Its images and symbolism make it a film which has withstood time and can still be enjoyed by audiences today.

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome is the third film in the Mad Max series. The story begins in Bartertown, a trading city in the desert of a post-apocalypse Australia. The people of Bartertown wear ragged clothes and the city appears primitive. Above the city, in a bird’s nest of a building, lives Bartertown’s ruler, Aunty Entity, played by Tina Turner. Underneath Bartertown is Underworld. Governed by Master and Blaster, it is an underground pig sty and energy plant; which supplies Bartertown with its electricity and fuel. Master, the brains of the operation, imposes an embargo on the methane supply to Bartertown, forcing Aunty Entity to declare him as being the one really in charge.

Max, played by Mel Gibson, enters the chaos at this time. He accepts a deal proposed by Aunty Entity that if he kills Blaster, he will be restored his possessions which were stolen in the desert. But upon discovery that Blaster is retarded, Max refuses to kill him, and is exiled into the desert. Max is saved from near death in the desert by some children who are convinced that he has come to save them and take them to "Tomorrow-Morrow Land", a paradise among the "high scrapers". The children believe a photograph of pre-holocaust Sydney is Tomorrow-Morrow Land.

The children, although it may not be obvious to overseas audiences, are clearly based on Australian Aborigines; their clothes, hair and body paint are a take-off on that of the aborigines; their myth is a fictionalised recreation of Aboriginal myths through dreamtime. The rituals, including storytelling and the use of drawings to illustrate the story, are all references to aboriginal rituals. As in Bartertown, so here, the past has been turned into parody. But in place of the sardonic amusements of Bartertown, this crevice of a world has transformed the past into a false myth that the children mistake for the truth.

In showing us two societies that are demonic parodies of the present, the movie is offering us an idea of what culture is, as postmodernism sees it, in which ideas and objects and behaviours get appropriated, transformed, and turned into entertainment, and myth and ritual to meet our needs.

In the film, Bartertown is destroyed by Max, the children, Pigkiller and Master. The children gather around with others to live in the ruins of the city. In the end, the children who went out into the desert got what they wanted, or at least, an ironic version of it. They expected to take off in a giant aeroplane that would take them to the utopia Tomorrow-Morrow Land. Instead, this group of the children ended up packed inside a small jalopy of a plane that took them to the real world of skyscrapers, the ruined reality of what is left of humanity. Max also gets what he wanted, but once again, not as he expected. He wanted to recreate the world of the children into a society based in realism and his own (mostly) humane values where they would be thankful for what they had, rather than dreaming of something else. He ends up creating that society, but it is not one that he can share in. In the end, he is left behind.

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome places us more firmly within its apocalyptic postnuclear world than the previous Mad Max films. George Miller’s future world is imaginative, with interesting costume design and creative action scenes. The film offers us an ethical vision about the creation of self/home/society out of more primitive materials. Aunty Entity creates her own private society out of the rubble

After Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome’s release in 1985, many conflicting reviews followed. In his review in The Sunday Times, Roger Ebert claimed the film was the best Mad Max ever, and also one of the best films of the year. Other critics were not impressed, believing the film did not capture the isolation and chaos as the past films had, and that it was an attempt to relive the others. Most critics agreed Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome was, at the least, an entertaining and amusing film. Subsequent criticism of the Mad Max trilogy by Ross Gibson (1992) states that the Mad Max stories take into account the undeniably complex inter-relationships now existing in Australia between an orthodox, officially sanctioned "National Culture" and the constantly mutating complex of images and ideas that comprise the international popular culture that gets imported and consumed here with such enthusiasm. The popularity of Kennedy-Miller indicates that attitudes are beginning to alter, albeit slowly, across the breadth of the society that gets called "Australia".

Before filming for Mad Max 3 took place, the Kennedy-Miller organisation was able to raise the money for the film from American investment. The film broke into mainstream American distribution by being released simultaneously in theatres from coast to coast in the US. With a budget of twelve million dollars, the film earned around fifty million dollars. Mad Max 3 was released in the US in July 1985, followed by Australia in August, France And West Germany in September and Finland and Sweden in October of the same year.

Mad Max 3 was produced at a time when tax incentives were being offered by the Australian government to encourage filmmaking. This led to private enterprise replacing government involvement in the production of Australian films. Mad Max 3 had a very high budget by Australian standards. (O’Regan, 1996). The film proved to be an international success.

Mad Max was George Miller’s first feature film. It took over one hundred million dollars world wide and won six Australian Film Institute awards. As with the first, Mad Max Two was received with great enthusiasm world wide. Miller was invited by Steven Spielberg to direct "Nightmare at 20, 000 feet", an episode of "Twilight Zone: The Movie". After this, he continued work on the Australian mini-series "The Dismissal", through production company Kennedy Miller Entertainment, and began to explore possible ideas for the new Mad Max film. After Mad Max Three, Miller directed "The Witches of Eastwick", "Lorenzo’s Oil", and "Babe".

Cinematographer Dean Semler first worked on documentaries, television commercials and small Australian feature films. He was widely acclaimed for his documentary and photography work before he brought his talent to the Mad Max films. Semler worked as cinematographer for Mad Max Two and Three, as well as "Young Guns", and "Cocktail", and won an AFI award for his work in "Dead Calm".

Actor Mel Gibson’s first film was "Summer City" in 1976. His second film was Mad Max in 1979, followed by "Chain Reaction" in 1980 and Mad Max Two and Three. Gibson has enjoyed a long and diverse career, with roles in "Forever Young" in 1992, the Leathal Weapon movies, and has been a producer of filmography in some of his more recent films, such as "Braveheart". (website :Open directory-Arts;Movies;Series:Mad Max 2000).

In the 1980’s the Mad Max films endorsed the need for Australian filmmaking to be ‘geared internationally’ to endorse firmly ‘entertainment rather than cultural values’ and for a poor cinema capable of making its money back on the local market. (O’Regan, 1996). The Mad Max trilogy proved that this philosophy worked, as these films are still very popular today, through video rentals and memorabilia. At the end of 1990, the majority of top one hundred gross film rentals in Australia were foreign films. The Mad Max films were part of a small number of Australian films to make the top one hundred.

There are currently several web sites available which give information on Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, sell memorabilia and fans can send e-mails about the Mad Max films. The cars used in these films are also a popular topic in these web sites.

The Mad Max films are criticised for their portrayals of violence and lack of plots, however, their incredible blockbuster appeal in entertainment cannot be denied. Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome is considered to contain a more complex plot than the previous films and also less violence. Mad Max web sites contain interesting reviews on Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, such as analysing the film’s communication of symbols and their meanings. The fact that there are so many web sites dedicated to the trilogy of films shows that they are still popular and an important part of Australian film history.

Australian cinema faces particular problems by virtue of sharing a similar market, market size, producing in English, and being a minor place in the international trade in national images. (O’Regan, 1996). The higher standards of images required to be competitive make it harder to get productions up, and because innovations are taken up earlier, the English language countries are more directly and quickly exposed. If the local cinema can be a worthy substitute and rival for Hollywood for popular audiences locally and internationally in, for example, the Mad Max trilogy, it does not have the protection and advantage afforded by the barrier of language. Producing in English provides audiences, critics and filmmakers with more ready points of comparison between their output and that of the Hollywood cinema. The greater commercial standing of the English language cinema confers benefits, however. Cinema attendance has tended to be historically higher in Anglophone markets than in comparable continental European markets.

Australia’s minor status as a national cinema, according to O’Regan, is not only a consequence of its operating in English but of its market size. Australia’s is a medium sized cinema with a medium sized market. The Australian cinema of the late 1970’s and 1980’s was known through a limited number of auteurs and actors, including George Miller and Mel Gibson. O’Regan notes that stylistically the Mad Max films expressed a distinctive and marketable Australian voice. The Mad Max films translate and transform international styles, themes, and stories. Mad Max’s significant images lingered well beyond the time and place of their screening, the images articulating collective neuroses and fears

Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome is an expression of our modern mythology, depicting the world after a nuclear holocaust in which life has turned into a demonic parody of the present. Max is the salvager and hero of the final film in the Mad Max trilogy. Mad Max 3 earned a considerable profit at a time when private enterprise was taking over Australian government involvement in film production. The film enjoys popularity today on rental video as well as through web literature and memorabilia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

BIBLIOGRAPHY

 

 

Goldberg, Lee 1995, Science fiction filmmaking in the 1980’s, Regal, London

O’ Regan, Tom, 1996, Australian National Cinema, 1996, Routledge, London

Bouzerau, Laurent, 1996, Ultra Violent Movies, Carol Publishing Group, London

Mad Max Chronology, http://purl.org/Net/madmax, 1999

Open Directory- Arts:Movies:Series:Mad Max, http://dmoz.org/Arts/Movies/Series/Mad_Max, 2000