If only, eh? If only.
Archive for category: Movies
One of the things that lingered with me after walking out of Mad Max was amazement that it was a PG-13 movie. The world the movie depicted was so obviously brutal, characters repeatedly dying violently.
And yet, when I thought about it, that violence was almost always implied. I struggled to remember a moment in the movie where you were ever shown the full, gristly reality of one of those violent deaths. In the style of classic action flicks, clever cuts manage to give the impression that someone has died horribly without ever really dragging your viewpoint down into their gaping intestines and saying “Look, look at all the blood and guts”.
Even the most gorey moment in the movie is just a brief red flash.
It was skillfully done. At no point in the movie did it feel like it had been “sanitised for the kids”. It never felt like anything other than a brutal, dog-eat-dog reality. And yet it didn’t stray into gore-porn for the sake of being “gritty”.
Fun to learn these little tricks.
[Spoilers for Mad Max: Fury Road follow]
A criticism leveled at Mad Max: Fury Road was that the story wasn’t actually about Max himself, it was about Charlize Theron’s character, Furiosa.
I don’t have any particular emotional attachment to the Mad Max series, or the character himself, so that doesn’t bother me. But there is truth to the claim – Mad Max is the Point of View (POV) character in the movie, but he isn’t the Protagonist. Furiosa is.
The usual form of most stories is as so :
The Protagonist is faced with some problem or wants to achieve some ambition. The set out to deal with it and struggle, facing setbacks and recruiting allies and tools along the way. These struggles build to a crescendo where the Protagonist faces the Dark Night of the Soul, the climactic moment that threatens to crush their hopes utterly. But they rise to overcome it, transforming from the person they were at the start of the story to the person they need to be in order to solve their problem/achieve their ambition.
So the easiest way to identify the Protagonist is to look for the character whose wants, goals and choices drive the story forward. In Fury Road, that would be Furiosa. It is her goal to rescue the Wives from Immortan Joe and sexual slavery. She sets the plan in motion, faces challenges, recruits unexpected allies (Max and Nox), and faces the Dark Night when she finds out that the expected refuge, the Green Place, is a toxic wasteland. She has to rise up, throw off hopelessness, turn around, and confront Immortan Joe to finally achieve her goal.
Max has a smaller character arc, but it’s not the Protagonist’s arc. He starts off feral, concerned only with his own survival, and by the end of the movie has reconnected with his humanity, willing to risk himself for others, caring again. But he doesn’t face the Dark Night like Furiosa does, and his goals (escape from the Citadel) are not the driving force behind the plot movement. Mostly, he’s a reactive character, rather than active.
He’s Danny Glover to Furiosa’s Mel Gibson in Lethal Weapon. Or Watson to her Sherlock Holmes.
Like I said, I don’t have a problem with that, but it’s an interesting thing to analyze, as a student of the story teller’s craft. Maybe the writers decided that Mad Max works better as a semi-mythic figure, the Road Warrior, who wanders in and out of other people’s lives, a common thread binding together stories in that world. Or maybe it wasn’t that conscious a decision, maybe they just had a cool story to tell in that world and they told it.
At the end of the day, we got an amazing piece of cinema out of it, regardless.
I’ve finally gotten a chance to watch Mad Max: Fury Road, and I have to say: it totally lived up to the hype. What an amazing piece of cinema. I left the theater with a huge grin on my face, and an urge to immediately watch it again.
I’m going to post up a few thoughts on the movie here on the blog, as I digest the experience.
Currently, I’m writing Miriam’s dialogue and listening to the Dredd* soundtrack to remind me of Lena Headey’s fantastic performance as Ma Ma.
Such different characters, Cersei and Ma Ma, but both awesome in their own way. We definitely need to see more Headey lady villains.
It’s a pity that Miriam was a last-minute addition to the plot, she sadly doesn’t play anything more than a bit part. Maybe I’ll write something around her in an expansion!
*Trivia – there is a nod to Dredd in SC in the form of an apartment block you investigate at one point named Cyprus Oaks. It’s a reference to Peach Trees, another incongruously-named megastructure.
Don’t care, don’t care, don’t care, it still has the ability to get me excited. 😀
Mrawmmmm, pew pew pew!
My word, these Star Wars concept pieces by Ralph McQuarrie are just so utterly fantastic.
Reminds me why I’m doing what I’m doing, what I’m sacrificing so much for. I just love these fantasy worlds so much, I couldn’t be satisfied with anything other than spending my life creating them. It is at the very heart of me.