Thursday, 12 January 2017

Exploitation in Cinema: Mad Max: Fury Road

Fig 1: Theatrical Poster for "Mad Max: Fury Road"
Mad Max Fury Road is Fourth Film in the Mad Max series, directed by Australian director George Miller the 2015. The film focuses around the barren wasteland in the dessert where a cult lead by Immortan Joe, deprives his citizens ,who live below his massive citadel in the cliff side, of water and rules over them with fear and with them in his debt to survive the rough environment they live in. Wanderer, Mad Max, is caught by the Immortan's War Boys and is used as a human blood bank thanks to his universal blood type and is connect to the War Boy Nux. During this time one of the Immortan's lieutenants, Imperator Furiosa, is sent to find gasoline, however, Joe is unaware that she had smuggled his five wives on board her War Rig until it was too late. Furious he sends his War Boys after her, the thrill of the pursuit and the potential to become a legend by dying in battle leads the ill Nux to join in, along with the reluctant Max. The clash between the two ends with the War Rig driving into a sandstorm that leave only Max and Nux in radius of Furiosa and the five Wives. Despite there differences the two men join the six women on their quest to escape the clutches of Immortan Joe and end for a life in the "Green Place".

Fig 2: One of many action scenes present in the film

Mad Max Fury Road
, is a film full of action, to the point where its obvious when an action scene is taking or about to be taken place due to the fast cuts and choppy style of filming that Miller went for in those scenes. The overt use of action, as well as the abundance of violence and body horror in the varied male characters, drowns out a relatively simplistic plot that goes back on itself from the 1st act to the 3rd act as the characters leave the Citadel in the beginning only to realise that they can't go anywhere but back to the place where they started. Because of this the consistent wave after wave of action with the sparseness of dialogue scenes blend Mad Max: Fury Road into a modern day equivalent of exploitation in cinema seen back in the 1970s and 1980s. Such equivalents are to be made from the Ozploitation cinema, Australian films that were overt in their violent, horrific or erotic nature, one such example is of the earlier Mad Max films where there was no health and safety guidelines leading to dangerous scenes of violence produced for film.

Fig 3: Four of the five wives of Immortan Joe and Furiosa

Female sexuality could also be considered as a form of exploitation in the film as at the beginning of the film the five wives are property of Immortan Joe, used for breeding to birth a perfect son to rule after him. However due to the liberation of the women by Furiosa, a formidable female warrior who is able to hold her own in fights. The female characters in Mad Max: Fury Road aren't just used for sexual reasons, they learn throughout the movie to grow and adapt to the risks of a world outside the Citadel. Gaining new skills, they are able to hold themselves in fights with the men pursuing them with the death of the wives leader, the favourite of Joe and heavily pregnant Splendid.

Fig 4: Furiosa using Max as a rest for her rifle, one of the most pinnacle scenes of female empowerment over men that can be seen as a recurring theme through the film

The dynamic of Furiosa and Max also evidence at the fact that female sexuality isn't exploited in Mad Max: Fury Road, as while Max's name is in the title the film centres around Furiosa and her need to escape the Citadel, of Immortan Joe to go to her childhood home of "The Green Place" a fruitful land lead by strong-willed women. In combat she is also the more offensive and strategic of the two, an example being when she leaned her gun on Max's back in the pitch black of the wetlands. Max on the other hand is much more frantic with how he deals with combat, he just wants to survive, while Furiosa is more of a warrior.

Fig 5: Max's silently exit as the remaining wives and Furiosa are now under control of the Citadel

Mad Max: Fury Road
is a film that loves action, and uses the themes of female empowerment and survival to give the characters impact where it counts. The fact that the group is so outnumbered, makes the audiences want for their survival more apparent, and the lack-luster environment they are in, a barren desert gives way for excellent car chases and combat using vehicles. Its quick paced and filled with adrenaline and the overwhelmingly large female cast for a high-octane action film brings the exploitation action films of the 1970s-1980s and switches it up to fit with the modern era.

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