Sunday, May 17, 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road [2015]

MPAA (R)  CNS/USCCB (L)  ChicagoTribune (3 Stars) (4 Stars)  AVClub (A-)  Fr. Dennis (3 Stars, perhaps, for "technical merit", 1/2 Star for vision / content)

IMDb listing
CNS/USCCB (J. McAleer) review
ChicagoTribune (C. Phillips) review (B. Tallerico) review
AVClub (A.A. Dowd) review (A Jordan) review* (Suri) review* (D. Gronmaier) review* (S. Crawford) review
Slant Magazine (E. Henderson) review

Brazil ( viewer comments*
Czech Rep ( viewer comments*
France ( viewer comments*
Italy ( viewer comments*
Japan ( viewer comments*
Russia ( viewer comments*
USA ( viewer comments*
USA ( viewer comments*

Mad Max: Fury Road [2015] (directed and screenplay cowritten by George Miller [en.wikip] [IMDb] along with Brendan McCarthy and Nick Lathuris) will, unsurprisingly, be problematic for a lot of people reading my Blog.

Readers here need to remember the basic premise of the Mad Max series of films [1979, 1981, 1985, 2015]: Playing-out in the "Outback" desert wilds of Australia, this series is set in a post-Apocalyptic world after all social order as we would know / remember it has collapsed.  And it needs to be underlined that writer director George Miller [en.wikip] [IMDb] has always taken this basic premise very seriously.

As such, viewing this film NUMEROUS comparisons to various post-Apocalyptic, indeed INFERNAL visions come to mind:

(1) One could honestly imagine the world portrayed as playing out in the Inner Ring of the Seventh Circle of Dante's Inferno (Canto 14 and following, for the Violent, and specifically for the Violent against God and Nature [EP] [ELF]).  Why?  Because that ring is described as being for Rapists, Sodomites and Usurers (for those who raped others and raped the land).  Further, in Dante's vision, these souls were condemned to live IN A SCORCHING DESERT (they extracted _all that there is_ out of life while they lived, hence there was nothing left for them in the afterlife) WITH A FIREY RAIN FAILING UPON THEM FOR ALL ETERNITY.    Consider the aesthetics of the Mad Max series ... PLAYING OUT in the SCORCHING DESERT of AUSTRALIA in the midst of CONSTANT MAYHEM / BATTLES between COMPETING BANDS OF VIOLENT THUGS / CRIMINALS. 

(2) One could imagine this series to be "The Left Behind" series [2014-film] told truly from the perspective of the Thugs / Condemned.  For most of us, it would honestly be better to be dead, to have "moved on" to the next life, rather than live in that INFERNAL "post-Apocalyptic" world of violence.

(3) Fascinatingly, an African Academy Award Winning Congolese film, Viva Riva! [2010], took the post-apocalyptic premise of the Mad Max films and applied it to CONTEMPORARY KINSHASA, the capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (formerly Zaire).  The film's hero, Riva, arrives in chaotic / endemically resource starved Kinshasa with a single stolen tank-truck of gasoline and becomes the toast of the town ...

IMHO, a valid question could be asked about the redeeming value of the Mad Max films.

Indeed, the chief protagonists of the current film -- the once "back in the day" (before the cataclysm that effectively destroyed the world) run-of-the-mill/average police officer, now tormented because he couldn't "save" his family, Max Rockatansky (played by Tom Hardy) and "hardened" [TM] though arguably "born after the Apocalypse" truck-diver Imperator Furiosa (played by Charlize Theron) -- BOTH appear to seek "redemption."

Yet, what does "redemption" in a purely secular sense mean?  My sense is that in this film it meant "to give one's life MEANING once more."

But how does life have meaning "after the Apocalypse" even, again, after a SECULAR "Apocalypse", where all previous social institutions were thoroughly destroyed and all that remains is CHAOS in a HOT ARID WASTELAND?

To me, the vision of this film is a vision of a SECULAR post-Apocalyptic HELL, again, the Inner Ring of the Seventh Circle of Dante's Inferno.  One could perhaps "go on fighting" but honestly WHY?

The situation portrayed is SO UTTERLY AWFUL.  The current film focuses on a depraved self-styled "Cult Leader" / "God King" named Immortan Joe (played by Hugh Keays-Byrne) himself horribly disfigured apparently by radiation, wildly trying to reproduce offspring of himself that were not similarly mutated / disfigured as he.  Since he had some "power" -- he found an underground reservoir of water in the midst of the post-Apocalyptic Australian desert -- he was "free" to try (and actually his "women breeders" were, well, remarkably beautiful).  YET TO NO AVAIL.  No matter how healthy / physically beautiful the pampered women of his harem were ... THEY STILL PRODUCED MUTANTS as his offspring.

But then, what did the sign at the Gate to Dante's Inferno say? "Abandon all Hope, Those Who Enter Here."

Abandon all hope indeed ... Again, the Mad Max series is basically the "Left Behind" series without the hope of God. 

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