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Posted June 6, 2015 by admin in Resource
 
 

Catatan Produksi Film Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)


About the Production

Oh, what a day! “What a lovely day!” – Nux

With “Mad Max: Fury Road,” director/writer/producer George Miller unleashes a world gone mad with the concussive force of a high octane Road War as only he can deliver it. The mastermind behind the seminal “Mad Max” trilogy has pushed the limits of contemporary cinema to re-imagine the beauty and chaos of the post-apocalyptic world he created and the mythic Road Warrior adrift within it.

Miller always envisioned a film that would play out as a breathless chase from start to finish. “I think of action movies as a kind of visual music, and ‘Fury Road’ is somewhere between a wild rock concert and an opera,” Miller comments. “I want to sweep the audience out of their seats and into an intense, rambunctious ride, and along the way you get to know who these characters are and the events that led up to this story.”

Producer Doug Mitchell, Miller’s filmmaking partner for 35 years, says the decade-long effort to bring “Mad Max: Fury Road” to the screen has itself been an exhilarating ride. “George has a brilliantly creative mind, but with that creativity comes a certain pragmatism. A project of this scale could only be possible with that combination, which he intuitively possesses. We’ve gotten through some tight corners and hilarious moments along the way, but for me, it’s been a wonderful privilege to be there with him on his epic journey.”

For Miller, the road goes back further. In the late 1970s, he was just out of medical school when, fueled by his love for cinema’s early action and chase movies, he set out to rediscover their pure visual language on his own. Drawing from his experiences as an emergency room doctor, he conceived a tale of a solitary figure in a world stripped bare following the collapse of society, and terrorized by psychotic road gangs.

Miller notes, “I’ve always been fascinated by how societies evolve, which can be at times incredibly inspiring, but at other times disturbing. When you strip away the complexity of the modern world, you can enter one that is very elemental, very spare, and tell stories that are basic allegories.”

Scraping together a shoestring budget, Miller assembled a rolling carnival of motorbikes and muscle cars, cast an unknown named Mel Gibson straight out of drama school, and hit the desolate highways on the outskirts of Melbourne, Australia, to capture the raw energy of a cataclysmic array of live stunts, with people driving real vehicles at real speeds.

“We have a car culture here in Australia, where the car is virtually a weapon,” notes screenwriter Nico Lathouris, a friend of Miller’s since their school days, who played the first film’s Grease Rat. “George had been treating youths in horrific car crashes, and rather than taking it seriously, there was a tendency to brag about an experience in which someone was seriously injured or had died. As a doctor, he felt he was just putting band-aids on a problem that was far greater, and this story was his way of getting to the core of it.”

The result was “Mad Max,” which burst onto screens in 1979 and sent shockwaves through the culture. As the “Mad Max” legend grew, Miller escalated his singular brand of propulsive action and immersive world-building with the two films that followed-the iconic “Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior” and the operatic “Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome.”

“One of the ideas that drove the first ‘Mad Max,’ and drives ‘Fury Road,’ was Alfred Hitchcock’s notion about making films that can be watched anywhere in the world without subtitles,” Miller reflects. “You’re trying to achieve what great pieces of music do-no matter what your mood, they take you to a place outside yourself, and you come out the other end having had an experience. That’s what we’ve tried to do with these films.”

The stark, decayed landscapes, visceral action, minimal dialogue and kaleidoscopic cast of characters Miller laid out in the “Mad Max” trilogy birthed a whole new genre, and inspired generations of artists across every medium. Tom Hardy, who takes on the title role of Max Rockatansky in “Mad Max: Fury Road,” states, “George essentially invented the post-apocalyptic atmosphere we now see in so many videogames and movies. That’s his canvas, and he’s continuing to paint on it with all of the assets he has at his fingertips. To be in this film is to sit with George in his toy box, and his imagination is so fantastic that you’re not really in a movie; you’re in George’s head.”

Charlize Theron, who originates a new character in the canon-Imperator Furiosa-attests that, with this film, Miller has forged a totally new vision that stands alone, even in the wake of its rich legacy. “George has truly reimagined a world he loves with this film. Anyone can enter it and experience something spectacular. There are some nice little gems in there for people who love the movies, and, at the same time, I think he’s created something that will resonate with a new generation that didn’t grow up with ‘Mad Max.’ That’s the beauty of ‘Fury Road.'”

Nicholas Hoult, who plays the War Boy Nux, and counts himself among that generation, agrees. “What’s incredible about George is that he can create something so massive, but there’s a real intimacy about it,” he says. “So much thought has gone into each small piece of the whole mythology that even the tiniest detail will tell you everything you need to know about these characters and their environment.”

It’s a universe that lives in Miller’s imagination, and, Mitchell posits, “There are no limits to its depths and dimensions. ‘Fury Road’ is really only the tip of the iceberg; there’s so much more under the surface. George has spent many years thinking about this world and it keeps revealing itself to him.” The quest to immerse today’s audiences in Miller’s mad future with “Mad Max: Fury Road” would cross continents and span more than a decade. It would leverage the talents of hundreds of artists to design and fabricate an authentic post-apocalyptic universe, from the creation of 3,500 storyboards to thousands of props and costumes. In a logistical operation of unprecedented scale, the monumental production would hurl cast, crew and 150 hand-built drivable vehicles through the deserts of Namibia to stage a real-life Road War across multiple units for 120 days.

“The astonishing thing about George is that he is one hundred percent driven and focused on the film,” says producer and first assistant director PJ Voeten, a “Mad Max” veteran since “Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome.” “He has relentless stamina and attention to detail, and sets the bar so high that it lifts all of those around him.”

“We didn’t breathe for six months while making this film,” Theron attests. “But doing something this challenging and this epic is what George thrives on. He sees possibilities others never would have seen.”

The possibilities of the real drive the “Mad Max” legend, and Miller and his team of collaborators pushed practical filmmaking to its limits to raise the bar. “The world of ‘Mad Max’ is heightened, but it’s not fantasy,” Miller explains. “‘Fury Road’ was an opportunity to more fully realize its scope and energy with all the latest technologies. We could put our cameras where they wouldn’t go in the past, and weave them through the armada with the wonderful Edge Arm system. If there was a fight on a vehicle, we could put wires on the actors then erase them with CGI. When you see Max hanging upside-down between two vehicles, that was Tom Hardy. When Furiosa is hanging onto him, that was Charlize Theron hanging onto Tom. And when you see Nux climbing onto the front of a vehicle, that was Nicholas Hoult.”

For Hoult, it was pure adrenaline. “There’s nothing like feeling the rumble of a big V-8 engine underneath you and hearing trucks as they roar past with bombs going off and people being flung around on poles.”

“If you think a stunt is too extreme, or an explosion too spectacular, I promise you that it was there…I saw it,” Hardy asserts. “It was action from the start of the day to the end of the day. It was mad and immensely epic, and all of George’s own making.”

For the man at the center of it all, some things never change. “There’s an intense and strange exhilaration in crashing vehicles in the desert. You lose any sense of yourself and are just working off instinct and gut. Which isn’t to say it wasn’t mad,” Miller smiles. “But to paraphrase an old saying, ‘You don’t have to be crazy to make a ‘Mad Max’ movie, but it helps.'”

 

The Future Belongs to the Mad

As the world fell, each of us in our own way was broken. It was hard to know who was more crazy…me or everyone else.” – Max

It’s 45 years after the fall of the world. There is no rule of law, no power grids, no water, and no mercy. In “Mad Max: Fury Road,” civilization is a memory, and only to a few. The world’s great economies have fallen into dust, the coastal cities have been erased, and in the wake of wars for water and oil, food is scarce and air is poison. What’s left of humanity roams the Wasteland in wild tribes or clings to survival at the foot of the Citadel, a fortress spun into a cave system where water is pumped from the only aquifer for miles around. By controlling the essentials, the Citadel and its allies, Gas Town and the Bullet Farm, control the Wasteland.

“When you go into a reduced, dystopian future, you’re really going back to an almost medieval past,” Miller comments. “People are just surviving. There is no honor, and very little time for empathy or compassion. This gives rise to a clear balance of hierarchy-with the powerful few literally above the many, and above the moral. And into this world comes Max, who is simply trying to escape his demons.”

Max Rockatansky was first introduced in Miller’s original 1979 film, and the character’s global resonance took even his creator by surprise. “I realized I’d unconsciously tapped into that classic mythological archetype,” he says. “In Japan, they called Max a lone Ronin Samurai. In France, they saw the film as a ‘Western on wheels’ and Max as the lone gunslinger. In Scandinavia, some said Max reminded them of a solitary Viking warrior, wandering the harsh landscape.”

Casting Tom Hardy in the role, Miller knew he’d found an actor who could bring a palpable truth to the mythic figure, noting, “It’s easy to be cautious as an actor, but there are some who are emotional warriors, and that’s Tom. He’s fearless. I was waiting for someone like Tom to come along and knew he would find the soul of Max within himself.”

Miller sensed in Hardy a quicksilver energy that recalled his first encounter with Mel Gibson when he initially cast him as Mad Max three decades ago. “It’s a charisma born out of paradox that makes him so compelling to watch,” the director posits. “Tom can be accessible, yet mysterious; tough, yet vulnerable. There’s tremendous warmth, but also an element of danger.”

Hardy was just six weeks old when the first film was released, but grew up very much aware of the Road Warrior legend. Once he wrapped his mind around the director’s vision, he understood that he wasn’t being asked to revisit the character but to reinvent it. “Mel’s Max is iconic,” Hardy relates. “But when George asked me to play this character, I entered into a collaboration with him to transmute Max for the events in this film. It’s brilliant material and a great honor to play this role.”

Still, Hardy reached out to Gibson to seek his blessing. “We had lunch, and it was good. He handed over the torch.”

Embodied by Hardy, Max Rockatansky emerges as a veteran of some desert war with a skill set that allows him to survive alone, having learned that attachment only leads to sorrow in a hostile world. “Max is somebody who just wants to go home, but there is no home,” Hardy says. “There’s nothing but silence, pain and destruction. He lives in a place where there’s no humanity, yet he still yearns for it. But relationships cost in this world.”

In the film, we find Max contemplating the dead, featureless void of the Plains of Silence, where his battered Interceptor, the last remnant of his old life, has taken him. “He’s seen a tremendous amount of trauma and horror, and everything he cares about is lost,” Hardy notes. “But even though his life, in many ways, is not worth living, there’s an argument to defy death. He’s not ready to die until he metes out a certain amount of justice for everything that has been taken from him.”

The moment is extinguished with the roar of supercharged engines as Max is swarmed by a wild pack of marauding War Boys, who ambush the wanderer, then drag him back to the Citadel-the most fortified stronghold in the Wasteland-where the car will be restored and Max will be rendered as livestock.

It’s at the Citadel that we meet Furiosa, whose rage will trigger the coming Road War. Furiosa’s journey as a female warrior in a world that enslaves women is what first pushed Miller onto the path to realizing “Mad Max: Fury Road,” and the director says Theron made her struggle very real. “Charlize is a very strong woman, not just physically but also in spirit,” he notes. “At the same time, you recognize her vulnerability. It’s not a mask. Charlize is unmistakably a woman, but this is a character who makes no concession to being female. Her life has been one of sorrow and pain, but there’s no time for reflection. She just has to go out there and be hardcore, and Charlize has the passion and skill as an actor to go there without fear.”

In Furiosa, Theron felt Miller had conjured an alpha female unlike any other she’d seen, especially in an action setting. “When George told me he wanted to create a female Road Warrior who can stand next to this very iconic character as his equal, I believed him and he didn’t let me down. The material allowed for two characters who don’t fall for each other, or even become friends, because there is no room for relationships in this place.”

That collision became even more combustible with Hardy in the mix. “There’s an elated feeling when you’re bringing that dynamic to life opposite an actor like Tom Hardy, who is playing at such an impressive level,” she shares. “You really want to set the bar with him.”

For Hardy’s part, the emotion Theron layered into the character, with minimal dialogue and near-constant action, left him awe-struck. “Charlize is a heavyweight,” he states. “There are very few actors on the planet who can deliver such tremendous strength and presence but also a tremendous amount of vulnerability.”

As an elite Imperator at the Citadel, Furiosa drives the War Rig-a mobile war machine and the most valuable vehicle in service of the Warlord of the Wasteland: Immortan Joe.

In conceiving the film’s complex and imposing villain, Miller considered the degree of skill, intellect and unquenchable hunger for power that would drive a character to not only survive the death-spiral of civilization, but to thrive. Immortan Joe finds the answer in water, Aqua Cola. It’s one of the only real currencies in the Wasteland, and he uses it to obtain the others-fuel from Gas Town and munitions from the Bullet Farm-and to subjugate the sick and starving masses who’ve migrated to the Citadel.

Perched high atop his fortress is its most protected chambers, where the Immortan runs his operation, and hoards in a sealed vault that which is most precious to him-his Five Wives. He knows his hard-fought primacy has no hope of enduring through his two surviving sons-Rictus Erectus, played by Nathan Jones, a child in the body of a humungous man; and Corpus Colossus, played by Quentin Kenihan, a mature intellect encased in a child’s body. “Neither of them is able to take over when the Immortan’s gone, so he has imprisoned healthy young girls in a climate-controlled vault, and is impregnating them to produce a healthy male heir,” Miller relates.

The director didn’t have to look far to cast the role of the Warlord. On the first “Mad Max,” he had cast Hugh Keays-Byrne as the gleefully psychotic Toecutter. At the time, the freewheeling actor had volunteered to help pull together a cast and, if Miller would just ship the bikes, he’d lead a three-day road rally from Sydney to the Melbourne set of “Mad Max.” Much to Miller’s amazement, by the time they arrived, Keays-Byrne had transformed a loose band of actors into an authentic biker gang.

“That’s the kind of charisma I needed big time on ‘Fury Road,'” Miller says. “Hugh wears a mask in the film, so no one will mistake him for the Toecutter, and he’s got those amazing eyes and great power in his voice. He’s a lovely, big teddy bear of a guy, and brings a real playfulness to the character. Purely by the force of his personality, he added another layer to the film. He really energized our War Boys.”

The Warlord has indoctrinated the War Boys in his self-created myth that he is an immortal returned to deliver them to the warrior paradise of Valhalla, so they fling themselves into road combat with religious fervor. Their other religion is steel and V-8 engines, and as Black Fingers, they tend Immortan’s war armada in the middle ranks of the Citadel, refueling from the Blood Bank to prolong their half-lives.

“The Immortan would flay you alive for not accepting that he’s a god,” Keays-Byrne expresses. “Looking at the situation from his point of view, people are dying at a massive rate from the pollution in the environment, so he’s set up a breeding program, blood banks, milk banks, hydroponics, anything to keep the race going. He keeps his War Boys powered up on clean blood because they can’t fight for him if they die from disease. He loves his boys. And that’s what dictators do.”

“It is something of a moral dilemma,” screenwriter Brendan McCarthy suggests. “The Immortan is trying to rescue the human race from its current genetic breakdown, but he wants to do it by preserving his already ailing bloodline. He’s using brutal, homicidal methods to do so, and he invents a religion to keep his War Boys enthralled.”

Nicholas Hoult is Nux, who has achieved the ultimate for a War Boy in his short, failing life-the vaunted position of driver, with his own personalized hot rod and a V-8 engine block scarified on his chest. “Everyone in this story is a commodity, and yet, in Nux, we see the rambunctiousness of youth,” says Miller. “Even though he’s leading a fairly miserable existence, and knows he hasn’t got long, he’s actually capable of great joy, and Nick has that energy inherently. He’s a wonderful actor, extremely disciplined, strong and also tremendous fun. Nick just exudes that youthful exuberance that really tells you who this character is.”

Long before production began, Miller set up a secure website loaded with videos of costume fittings, stunt tests, and reference materials for the actors to learn the backstories of the characters, which was a goldmine for Hoult. “It gave some insight into how Nux could always be trying his best to be optimistic,” the actor notes. “He doesn’t know much about the world; all he knows is that he’s only got a half-life. He’s got these tumors on his neck called Larry and Barry, who are kind of his pals, but are also killing him. His relative innocence and enthusiasm are what set Nux onto the path he takes in this film.”

All the War Boys sport bald heads, tattoos, scarification, and full body-paint in Immortan’s signature white, so Hoult shaved his head and sat in the make-up trailer for two hours each day before cameras rolled. “When your appearance changes so much, it helps you tap into different parts of your personality,” he says. Though he enjoyed the process, he admits he envied how Theron worked it. “Charlize walks in, greases her forehead and out she goes. I was like, ‘Hang on a minute…'”

Theron confirms, “For me, it was just, ‘Where’s the grease? OK, let’s go.'” Since the actor spent so much time in Furiosa’s War Rig, she kept a make-up bag and compact mirror inside the cab to do touch-ups on the fly.

When Furiosa detours her rig and her convoy off their scheduled run to Gas Town, it becomes clear she’s got a different agenda, and Immortan’s kingdom erupts into bedlam. What enrages him is not losing his Imperator, or even the War Rig…it’s the cargo she carries. The vault where he keeps his prized breeders is empty save for Miss Giddy (Jennifer Hagan), their mother-figure and teacher, and on the wall, they’ve scrawled a simple message: “We are not things.”

Theron doesn’t see Furiosa’s act as heroic, or even motivated by compassion. “She is an anti-hero in the classic sense,” Theron asserts. “She’s driven by these very human flaws. For me, what sets her off is that she has had enough of feeling worthless as a woman in a world where women are only good for one thing, and that’s procreating. And she’s going to take what matters most to the Immortan because he took the most valuable thing away from her when he stole her away from her mother and then discarded her. To me, this is about not letting the bastards get away with it, and I love that about her.”

Lathouris notes that the parallels between Furiosa and Max are not incidental. “She is of the same ilk as Max. Her story is not unlike his. She too has suffered great losses in her life, and she, too, turned from grief to vengeance.”

And the Immortan retaliates with everything he’s got.

When the war drums sound, Nux is in the Blood Bank, where the Organic Mechanic (Angus Sampson) is fixing him up with a shot of “high octane crazy blood” from the Citadel’s newest universal donor-Max, now shorn, masked, branded, and shackled upside down, his blood draining into Nux via intravenous tube. “The only reason they keep Max alive is because his blood is viable rather than cancerous,” explains McCarthy. “Blood plays an important part in this film, and it’s almost a satirical twist on the whole notion of ‘fill ‘er up.’ You’re filling cars up with ‘guzzoline,’ as it’s called in the ‘Mad Max’ canon, and you’re filling War Boys up with blood.”

Nux knows he doesn’t have long and Furiosa’s rebellion is his last chance to die in an historic fashion, with Max as his lifeline. Says Hardy, “Nux wants to go out there and lead that glorious pursuit, and in order for him to do that, he has to take his ‘Blood Bag’ with him.”

Hoult adds, “Nux needs Max, but he is also having fun with him. Max is terrified and miserable, and that’s sort of hilarious to Nux. He’s having the time of his life.”

Max blazes into the Road War strapped to the hood of a speeding car, bleeding out with each heartbeat as tons of rolling metal collide inches from his face. The Citadel armada, along with gangs led by the Gas Town boss (Richard Carter) and the Bullet Farmer (John Howard), storm across the sand to converge on the War Rig and attack from every side. Thumping through the ferocious din, the Doof Warrior (iOTA) rallies the death squads with hardcore rock n’ roll shrieking full-blast across the Plains.

The armada is not the only menace confronting the War Rig in the Wasteland: every crack, hole, canyon and bog is loaded with threat, whether from the carrion horror of the underground Buzzard tribe or the Rock Riders lurking with infinite stealth in a treacherous canyon the rebels must pass. Even the sky above bears down on them in the form of a churning tornado of dust and fire-the toxic storm.

In its aftermath, Max finds himself alive but still chained to the War Boy, and dropped into the same patch of sand as Furiosa and the Wives. They are beautiful and pristine against the filth and fallout that surrounds him, but he only has eyes for the War Rig-his sole chance of escape. He’ll just have to get through Furiosa first.

Following an epic face-off, with the two warriors leveraging every weapon and asset they can get their hands on-including Nux and all Five Wives-they fight each other to a draw. “Max and Furiosa start out as adversaries who really want to kill each other,” McCarthy states. “They’re like two primal animals that are at the top of their game, and they’re matched in every way.”

Recognizing that the odds of survival increase together rather than alone, Max and Furiosa forge an uneasy peace, and even Nux becomes swept up with his quarry. “Nux sets out to kill Furiosa and bring the girls back, but he never succeeds,” Hoult says. “Once he kind of gives up on ever serving his purpose, they become this little troupe, all working together, and bring him back to life.”

To find the Immortan’s Five Wives, Miller worked with U.S. casting director Ronna Kress and Nikki Barret in Australia cast a wide international net across all levels of acting experience. He saw the Wives as a melody, and wanted an ensemble of individuals who would each bring her own note to it. “The Five Wives are the classic MacGuffin in this film, the object everyone is after,” Miller notes. “You have to be able to instantly grab onto each one in the middle of this wild chase through the Wasteland.”

For The Splendid Angharad, the ad-hoc leader of the wives, they cast model-turned-actress Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, with Riley Keogh playing her second-in-command, Capable. Zoe Kravitz is the tough and brainy Toast the Knowing; Courtney Eaton plays the sheltered Cheedo the Fragile; and Abbey Lee became The Dag.

All five traveled to Sydney for three weeks of rehearsals, costume fittings, movement work with Australian choreographer Meryl Tankard, and exploring their characters in workshops with Nico Lathouris. As part of their research, they also spent time with feminist playwright Eve Ensler, who has worked in the Congo with women struggling with issues of rape.

That was particularly illuminating for Huntington-Whiteley, the only one of the Wives whose rape has resulted in conception. “Eve Ensler was brilliant and made everything very real for us,” she notes. “Splendid is the leader and an extremely strong character. She takes a maternal approach over all her sisters, but has conflicted emotions about her pregnancy. I did a lot of research on my own and had many conversations with Eve and George about how truly conflicted she would be about the child she’s carrying. She shows a lot of courage, but is often reckless, and I see that as an expression of the pain over what Immortan did to her and the possibility that she could still love the child.”

Keogh’s Capable also has a tender and compassionate side that emerges when she finds Nux stowed away in the War Rig in the wake of a failed attempt to die stopping it. Keogh says, “Because the Wives have seen the Immortan when he’s vulnerable, Capable knows he’s not this god-like thing that Nux believes he is. She feels empathy and finds a new purpose when she meets Nux. They really come to care for each other.”

Hoult adds, “Nux has grown up in a rough world, so to have Capable listen to him and care for him is something that he almost doesn’t understand. He’s a bit like a puppy. From that moment on, he’s just all in for her. She is the one person who sees the possibility that he can change this life and opens his mind to something outside of what he’s always known.”

On the other end of the spectrum is Toast, who aspires to be a warrior like Furiosa. Kravitz comments, “These girls have never had to do anything for themselves, and now they’re in this race for their lives. Suddenly they have to protect themselves and load weapons for Furiosa, and Toast is the one who is ready to step up to the plate and fight. There’s no time to think too hard or second-guess anything; there’s always someone coming for you.”

Lee, a model making her film debut, caught Miller’s attention for The Dag during the casting process. In an effort to get a sense of the actors, he asked prospective Wives to read a scene from a film or television property rather than lines from the script. “If someone wanted to take on a very rhythmic piece of writing from ‘Network’ or something as comedic as the parrot scene from Monty Python…which one they chose told me a lot about who they might be as actors,” Miller reveals.

Lee was the only one who picked Monty Python, and fittingly became the “class clown” of the group. “The Dag is a bit of comic relief,” says Lee, who, as an Australian, grew up steeped in “Mad Max” culture. “There’s a darkness to her, and that’s where the comedy comes from; it’s her coping mechanism. Her name is derived from the term ‘daggy,’ which is an endearing term for someone who is a little bit left of center, someone awkward. She has a flightiness about her that can be mistaken for nervousness, but really it comes from having a heightened sense of awareness of what’s going on around her.”

Life imitated art on set as Lee had something of a panic attack upon seeing Keays-Byrne rumble towards the War Rig in his full Immortan Joe regalia. Miller recalls, “She said that seeing Hugh in character for the first time brought up the most terrible feelings. And that’s Hugh; he’s a very sweet guy, but he can really stare you down with those eyes behind a mask that looks pretty wild.”

Eaton, who was just 16 years-old during filming, plays Fragile, the youngest and most naïve of the Wives. “Fragile wasn’t born in the outside world,” Eaton describes. “She was born in the Citadel, and doesn’t know anything other than that life. So being out there affects her. She wants to go back to something safe and stable, where she has food and water and knows she’s not going to die. She’s a little like the abused spouse, who will always go back to her abuser.”

Miller offers, “All the women are vulnerable because they’ve never been out there in the Wasteland, and, as Furiosa says, ‘It hurts out here.’ Of all them, Fragile is the most vulnerable, but she finds her own strength in the story.”

Fragile is the least motivated to find the Green Place, a lush oasis Furiosa remembers from her childhood, where she believes the Wives will find a better life for themselves and Splendid’s unborn child. “Furiosa has not descended into despair like Max,” Miller remarks. “She’s burnt out, but still has one last shot to escape across the Wasteland, not for herself but for these young women who still have hope. She’s trying to get them to the Green Place to find some meaning in her own life.”

Like Max, Furiosa doesn’t give trust easily, but-through circumstance, function and necessity-a certain trust is earned. “Furiosa’s journey is derailed when she runs into Max,” Theron observes. “All of a sudden, they’re stuck with each other on this journey of hope, in a place where there really is no hope.”

“Max and Furiosa are very similar characters, and they develop an unspoken understanding of kindred spirits,” Hardy notes. “Caring about anything or anyone is a dangerous thing, and they do. This is not a love story, but they bring out something in one another that makes it essential that they connect and help each other move forward.”

As Immortan unleashes hell to retrieve his property, Max throws himself into a counter-offensive to keep the War Rig moving and the Warlord at bay. “Within this small group, Max observes a bond and a unity amongst people who are clearly doing something which is important, and that allows him to be outside of his head for the first time in a long time,” Hardy says. “In a world where survival is everything and there’s nothing to hold on to, moments of humanity are exceptionally profound.”

Lathouris points out that the humanity Max witnesses moves him from being “apart from” to being “a part of,” noting, “Max has been running away from his better self, but on the War Rig, his better self catches up to him, and that’s Furiosa. They start out wanting to kill each other, and end with Max willing to sacrifice his life for her and her cause. What’s broken in Max can only be healed by love.”

“We see his evolution into a nobler, more reliable man,” Miller reflects. “We see what his better self could be. It’s where Furiosa already is. She’s fierce in her determination. Her heart gets pretty close to being crushed on this journey they take, but together, they find some way to stand against the chaos of the world and find some sort of redemption.”

 

A Legend Roars Back to Life

It is by my hand you will rise from the ashes of this world.” – Immortan Joe

From the very first image, “Mad Mad: Fury Road” played out in Miller’s imagination as a visual narrative. Rather than write a traditional screenplay, the filmmaker contacted Brendan McCarthy, a comic book author, animator and artist who had been sending him his work for years. What began as a collaboration on conceptual art resulted in Miller asking the avowed Road Warrior fan to co-write the screenplay.

For McCarthy, it was a jaw-dropping proposition. “I said, ‘You do realize I haven’t written a big feature film before, don’t you?'” McCarthy remembers. “He shrugged and said, ‘Don’t worry, I have.’ So we set to work, like two maniacs inside the Thunderdome, hammering out the story. As a fan of the original movies, it was wonderful to watch a new one taking shape in front of my eyes. The whole time we were coming up with the initial foundation, we were very aware that this movie had to roar into cinemas with all cylinders firing. We knew we absolutely couldn’t disappoint.”

Two additional artists joined the fray to take Miller and McCarthy’s thumbnail images and refine them into fully realized art: Peter Pound, a “gear head” with a mind for vehicle movement and specs, who became the film’s principal vehicle designer; and Mark Sexton, with a scientific background and an acumen for world-building, who served as principal storyboard artist. After nearly a year, the creative team had wallpapered the conference room of Miller’s studio with a 3,500-panel storyboard-the visual first draft of “Mad Max: Fury Road.”

Miller enlisted Nico Lathouris to create a dramaturgical analysis of the story, but soon asked his longtime collaborator to join the screenwriting team. “I think George has intuitively tapped into a rich vein in the human psyche with the ‘Mad Max’ story,” he says. “Beneath the wall-to-wall action of ‘Fury Road,’ I saw a constellation of characters who are intimately affected by one another, and the story’s rich allegorical layers became a huge influence in adjusting the dramatic forces operating between them.”

Three key members of Miller’s team also jumped in at the beginning, and hung on through each stall, detour and hairpin turn the project would take over the next ten years-PJ Voeten, Guy Norris and production designer Colin Gibson. “If it hadn’t been for the abilities of PJ, Colin and Guy, we wouldn’t have had a hope of getting this movie made,” Doug Mitchell attests. “And it also wouldn’t have been possible if George hadn’t taken the time to write the story visually. The storyboards allowed him to edit the film shot-by-shot, and it became the Magna Carta at every stage of realizing ‘Fury Road.'”

In the years that followed, the collaborative circle grew to encompass costume designer Jenny Beavan, makeup designer Lesley Vanderwalt, special effects supervisors Dan Oliver and Andrew Williams, and visual effects supervisor Andrew Jackson.

Oscar-winning cinematographer John Seale was just a month into his well-earned retirement when the filmmakers invited him aboard. “It was ‘Mad Max,’ and it was George, after all,” Seale says. “So it didn’t take too long to decide. I love working with George. He’s the loveliest man. You’re in the desert, the camera’s rolling, the truck’s rolling over or blowing up, the weather does not match, and he puts his hand on your shoulder and says, ‘Don’t worry, Johnny, I’ll take care of you-we’ll fix it in post.'”

Miller had planned a one-camera shoot, but by the time principal photography was underway, Seale and his team would have an average of three to four Arri Alexa Plus cameras and two to four Arri M Steadicams running simultaneously each day, plus aerials and crash-cams with retrievable digital cards. Seale also volunteered to operate his own camera, capturing the imagery through the 11:1 zoom lens of what Miller nicknamed the cinematographer’s “paparazzi camera.” “I love to get out there and get little close-ups,” Seale says.

Then there was the Edge Arm…

From the earliest stages of development, the team of collaborators brainstormed with Miller about all the things they wanted to do differently on “Mad Max: Fury Road,” and most pressing were the limitations Miller had experienced with camera tracking vehicles. They decided to build an off-road racing dune buggy and talk one of the camera companies into outfitting it. Before the plan was put into action, Voeten went off to work on another film, and discovered what became an elegant and revolutionary solution.

Voeten recalls, “The Edge Arm system gives you the flexibility to safely put a camera anywhere, and get the most amazing shots. As soon as I saw what the Edge could do, I knew we had to have it for ‘Fury Road,’ and raved about it to George and Doug.”

On a visit to the States, Norris met up with LAMotorsports’ Dean Bailey, who offered to custom build a supercharged V-8 off-road racing truck with a roof-mounted, gyrostabilized camera crane that could extend more than 20 feet in length, rotate 360-degrees, and achieve a full range of motion in any direction. “After George’s first ride, he proclaimed we could shoot the whole film with it,” says Voeten. “And the Edge Arm delivered brilliantly every day.”

Bailey brought with him a team of operators, with Brooks Guyer and Michael Barnett driving the crane and camera, respectively, via remote control-all strapped into the vehicle. The filmmakers also set loose radio-controlled “truggies”-a mash-up of a truck and a buggy-across the desert, outfitted with remote-controlled cameras mounted on Libra heads to eliminate blur. “George is very big on safety, and we planned to have as few crew in fast vehicles as possible,” Voeten notes.

Miller spent many a day blazing through the stunts inside the Edge, directing the action on the fly via video split monitors inside the cab. “It’s a remarkable machine,” he marvels. “I got so addicted to it, because you strap yourself in and you’re right in the middle of the action, operating the camera like a videogame. For a film that plays out essentially in real time, to be able to have an instrument like that is extraordinary.”

“George fell in love with it, so we ended up with two of them-one on the main unit and one on the action unit,” Norris supplies. “You were totally encapsulated in this amazing off-road vehicle, so there was no danger, and you could literally put the camera anywhere. I probably shot ninety-nine percent of the action units out of the Edge.”

In choreographing the stunts, Norris broke down the storyboards by set piece to design immersive action that would have multiple stunts unfolding simultaneously, and continuously, from start to finish. “Working with George for as long as I have, I’ve learned to let the action run as long as it possibly can, all the way to its natural stopping point,” Norris relates. “With all the stunts happening at once, George is free to put his camera anywhere in the scene.”

Miller laid out three basic ground rules, or design strategies, that would dovetail through each echelon of design and creation, beginning with the tipping point. “Imagine that from next Wednesday, all the potentialities we read about in the news come to pass at once,” the director explains. “Now we jump 45 years hence. There’s no mass production. Anything that exists in the Wasteland is a found object, which has been repurposed. And each piece has to have a logic that explained how it survived the apocalypse, whether a weapon, a pair of glasses, or Furiosa’s mechanical arm.”

It was also critical to honor the human instinct for invention and art. “Just because it’s a Wasteland doesn’t mean that people don’t make beautiful things,” he continues. “I’ve been all over the world and even impoverished cultures have a powerful aesthetic. So, everything in our film had to have a function, but fashioned with great care and personalization. These found objects have survived where human bodies fail, and they can take on a nearly religious significance because of that.”

But, as he also points out, written in the DNA of the “Mad Max” experience is its streak of deranged humor. “Here we are in this dark, crazy world, and it’s human nature for that to bring out a kind of insane, celebratory quality. There’s a hysteria best described by Nux’s line in the middle of a toxic storm as vehicles are being swept up into the air. For him, dying in this tornado of dust and fire is the loveliest possible day there could be.”

These three precepts formed the backbone for every department that worked to harmonize their specialties into a unified whole. For Gibson, the first step was exploring what the post-apocalyptic environment looked like. “George’s concept had always been that this was an accumulation of all possible apocalypses,” Gibson describes. “So we had the perfect canvas on which to draw a sense of history-the black and beaten steel of a vehicle, with the occasional patina of rust, on a vast desert of nothingness. But it’s not all battered vehicles held together. Humankind is suffering. There’s a sense of entropy with everything, so a bleeding out of color allowed us to use it sparingly and make it count.”

In Miller’s Wasteland, less is more, and Gibson and his collaborators worked to ensure each item could be traced back to the collapse. He dove into the compilation of a bible Miller had initiated to formalize the histories, hierarchies, belief systems and resources of each of the various tribes that populate the film. This would inform how they look, act and speak, as well as every mask, body modification, costume, tool, weapon, or vehicle, down to the most minute detail.

“We have reached an appalling freefall back into an almost medieval version of the universe,” Gibson relates. “So we assumed polarization and fundamentalism due to the lack of resources-the paucity, the lack of things, where a small soda can, emptied and filled with fuel, is a treasure. We decided that to be truthful, we’d need to use real salvage to put together all our props, vehicles, and other material items so that each piece did actually reflect the idea of the end of the world.”

Life imitated art as all the design teams set out to recycle and melt down as much as they could to fabricate the physical world of the film-making weapons from soda cans, tires and inner tubes; car accessories from melted-down second-hand pewter tankards and trophies; and a menagerie of hand-built, customized vehicles constructed in part from the revitalized bodies of 350 salvaged cars. Gibson reveals that at the Citadel, and in all corners of the Wasteland, you use what you have for what you need. “George was very big on what he called ‘polymorphous’. Purpose was brutally efficient function that could be wrought from any and all things, and adapted as needed. A stick starts out as a spear, but breaks, then becomes a crossbow bolt, and then splint, and a toothpick, and then fuel for a fire.”

Unique to the film are weapons derived from spears tipped with a trench warfare-style grenade and used by War Boys to pierce the armor of the War Rig. “These are explosive devices with a detonator on the front, and the art department did them up beautifully,” Miller notes. “If you look at them closely, the handles are very finely worked, complete with decorative tassels. They’re not just weapons, they’re personal.”

Gibson himself had a blast hand-fashioning scrappy weapons that could believably exist in a diminished future. “They were all reused from different materials-spray guns and jackhammers became guns or flamethrowers,” he describes.

Costume designer Jenny Beavan relished grounding the scope of Miller’s imagination into spare reality, in part because it took her out of her comfort zone. “I’ve done a lot of period movies, but the appeal of doing something post-apocalyptic is really stretching your brain in a very different way, which was wonderful to jump into. It’s elevated and fantasy, but still grounded in a weird kind of reality, and I loved the freedom of creating vibrantly abnormal things.”

While one of Miller’s other ground rules was to avoid any throwbacks to the earlier films, the storyboard team stumbled on one iconic piece that was irresistible-the original leather jacket Mel Gibson wore in “The Road Warrior.” Once that surfaced, Pound reimagined the iconic jacket and shoulder pads to conceptualize a new but resonant piece for Hardy’s Max.

From there, Beavan collaborated with Hardy to develop and style the Road Warrior of “Mad Max: Fury Road.” “Tom came in with a huge amount of his own ideas,” she relates. “We got together masses of stuff and put together the look that, of course, he loses immediately. But the idea is that he will regain it over the course of the movie.”

The costume team would ultimately duplicate Max’s get-up 20 more times to accommodate all the stunt performers, with an additional layer of protective gear. But Hardy himself would dive into as many stunts as he could physically perform, including the character’s desperate initial escape and recapture from the Citadel.

Beavan also collaborated extensively with Charlize Theron to hand-select and create Furiosa’s worn white top, slouch leather trousers, and the body armor that stretches across her midsection, harnessed by horizontal bands of leather belts. The outfit would reflect the character’s basic needs-comfortable, utilitarian, formidable, and not restrictive in a fight. Furiosa has lost part of her left arm, and wears a mechanical arm crafted from salvage materials by Australian artist Matt Boug. A lighter version was made for Theron and her stunt double, Dayna Chiplin, for increased mobility. “Furiosa’s arm is a perfect example of imbuing found objects with artistry,” Miller surmises. “You can see spanners, crankshafts, parts of car engines. There’s a small motor on it from a toy airplane, which she uses to pump up the hydraulics should she need extra power.”

Theron didn’t see Furiosa as someone with a lot of time for her appearance, and, after long discussions with Miller and hair and makeup designer Lesley Vanderwalt, she was struck by an idea. “I was a new mother; I was going to be in the desert; I thought, ‘We need to just shave my head,'” Theron remembers. “I was so excited that I called call George, and he took a breath. Then, he said, ‘Yes,’ and we did it the next morning. Looking back, I can’t imagine doing this film any other way.”

Vanderwalt, whose history with Miller traces all the way back to “The Road Warrior,” also imbued the Imperator with a patina of status, noting, “The highest ranking Imperators covered their foreheads with black grease and used metal and mineral dust to highlight it.”

Skin tone became a powerful visual touchstone for Furiosa, Max, and the film’s small troupe of rebels. “These are people who have come through this far and still bear the possibility of renewal,” Gibson notes. “We kept their skin tones alive, especially when it came to the Five Wives, whose flesh itself speaks of hope and future.”

Against gritty reality of life in the Wasteland, the Wives would have to look completely alien. “The Immortan thinks of them as his treasure, and he has protected them from all the poisons of the outside world,” Miller notes. “In a Wasteland inhabited by people eaten up by cancers, the women themselves had to be, in a sense, pristine.”

Vanderwalt maintained a natural look for Huntington-Whiteley, Keogh, Kravitz, Lee and Eaton, opting to illuminate the characters’ personalities through hairstyling. “George loved Zoe’s short hair, and we thought Toast would have chopped it off to be feisty,” Vanderwalt says.

For their costumes, the actors went to Beavan’s workshop to pick and choose from a variety of cotton and muslin cloth wraps, which were inspired by a ballet Miller had seen in which the dancers had been adorned in crepe bandages. “The Wives have been living in a climate-controlled environment all their lives,” Beavan suggests. “So when they’re taken away from that, the idea is that they’re completely unsuitably dressed for the Wasteland.”

For everyone else at the Citadel, the body is a canvas where each individual paints, carves or wears his or her beliefs, origins and status. Gibson offers, “Masks are a status symbol, scars tell your past and position, clothes identify your rank-whether you’re a driver, lancer, or if you have nothing, the little that you did have was very important to you.”

The Immortan’s nightmare visage of rows of horse teeth serves both a practical purpose to scrub toxins from the air, but to also imbue the Warlord with the formidable presence of a fierce demi-god. Keays-Byrne wore it above bulletproof Plexiglas armor that also serves to conceal and control his ailing physical form, all of which holds his War Boys in continuous kamikaze thrall.

The War Boys also wear a panoply of masks, each more terrifying than the last, and largely shaped from leather and wire by Beavan and her teams in Africa and Australia. Their masks also served a dual purpose: both venerating the Immortan and allowing the stunt performers who played them to change identities in various stunt capacities, including riding atop arcing poles as the Polecats. They also wear white body paint, powder and clay to honor the Immortan’s pallor, with the makeup department ultimately using 61 different skin tones. Vanderwalt and her team also adorned the War Boys’ body canvas with inks, stick-on tattoos and scarifications, and custom-made tattoo T-shirts.

In brainstorming the War Boys’ modes of attack, Miller remembered seeing street performers balancing on poles, which fired his imagination. “When ‘Fury Road’ came around, I thought, ‘What if we put those poles on a moving vehicle?’ The War Boys have to attack the War Rig from every side, and if they couldn’t get around the wheels or around the spikes, the Polecats could swing over and attack from above, like pirates.”

As much as he fell in love with the idea, he knew that odds were slim that even his skilled and trusted team could safely pull it off. “When you have real humans on a moving vehicle, if even one thing goes wrong, you’ve got a serious accident,” he says.

Norris, Gibson and Oliver hunkered down for months, brainstorming about everything from bamboo poles to pole vaulting equipment to hydraulics, to no avail. Just as Miller was coming to grips with the idea of making the Polecats happen digitally, the team hit pay dirt-they developed an upside-down metronome rig that could do the job smoothly, safely and consistently. Reaching as high as 30 feet, the pole was counterweighted with an engine block at the base, positioned at the fulcrum point, which could be adjusted for different performers and moves. The device allowed the Polecats to glide through the air by coordinating their moves with the stunt team positioned on the vehicle, pushing and pulling the weighted block for leverage.

“We could then swing the pole back and forth literally all the way to down to the ground at ninety degrees,” Norris offers. “The guys were in constant communication with earpieces, and could increase their timing to swing all the way to the ground at ninety degrees, or land on top of a tank or even a motorcycle. Once we got the physics down, there was never any danger of the poles tipping over.”

Norris sent Miller a link to their test footage, with just a brief note saying he had a surprise for the director. “There were half-a-dozen Polecats coming around a vehicle in this beautiful balletic movement, and Guy was up on one of the poles, filming it all,” Miller smiles. “When I saw this footage, it brought tears to my eyes. I thought anything we tried would be way too unsafe to do it for real, but those guys were completely safe up there. They could stay up there all day. It was wonderful.”

Norris next reached out to longtime friend and former Cirque du Soleil performer Stephen Bland to help him assemble a team of Polecats, who then rehearsed extensively to fine-tune their timing and symmetry. “This allowed George the freedom not to have to stop and adjust during a sequence,” Norris relates. “He could shoot the War Rig racing across the desert, with Polecats surrounding and attacking in coordinating moves, and more of them swarming from behind-all on speeding vehicles.”

In the torrent of stunts that rage across the Wasteland, as many as 150 stunt performers could be on set on any given day, but Norris’s 65-strong core stunt team would embody the Immortan’s army throughout the film. The job was unique in that they were not doubling another actor, but actually taking on their War Boy roles for the entirety of the shoot. “In the film, you can track a War Boy right from the Citadel into the armada chase right through to his death,” Norris explains. “They all had glorious deaths, but there was always a bit of competition for who could have the best death as a War Boy.”

Over the length of prep and throughout production, the performers immersed themselves in their characters and in the cult of the Immortan in group sessions involving intense physical and fight training, interposed with dramaturgy workshops with Lathouris and his associate Nadia Townsend, and frequent rallies with Keays-Byrne. The sessions were also attended by Australian actor, musician, actor and playwright iOTA, who plays the Doof Warrior-the Citadel armada’s “little drummer boy.”

Josh Helman, who plays opposite Hoult as Nux’s lancer, Slit, remembers, “Hugh would show up as Immortan Joe, and iOTA would just improvise on the spot, which was amazing. The whole thing completely set up the cultish environment of the War Boys.”

iOTA wrote and recorded his own war themes for the Doof Warrior to play on his double-necked electric guitar / flamethrower as the frontman for the Road War’s demented house band. During production, location sound recordist Ben Osmo would broadcast this music to earpieces worn by the Doof Wagon’s bank of Taiko drummers, which enabled them to maintain the thumping tempo amid the din of thundering V-8 engines and road combat.

The People Eater and the Bullet Farmer, played by John Howard and Richard Carter, respectively, lead their gangs into the Road War in a hurricane of fire and hail of bullets. Designed by McCarthy, the People Eater embodies bulk excess and the worst qualities of civilized man. “I did a sketch of a very large man in a raggedy capitalist’s pinstripe suit. He has a bad case of nose leprosy, so he wears a false nose to cover it,” McCarthy relates. “He was quite creepy, so George aptly christened him the People Eater.”

In his ammo-laden trench coat and headpiece made entirely of Bullets, McCarthy saw the Bullet Farmer as “an absurdist weapons manufacturer and dealer gone insane.”

The quest to find the staging ground for the film’s Road War was nearly as epic as the production itself. The team had some basic requirements for a location-flat, sand, scant vegetation, and canyons-as well as a base that could support an infrastructure for a shooting unit. Voeten and Gibson circled the planet looking for that magic combination throughout South America, Africa and the Middle East, but ultimately decided to return to Broken Hill in the sprawling Australian Outback, what Voeten calls “the spiritual home of Mad Max.” “When George scouted it, it was his first time back there since making ‘The Road Warrior,'” he recalls.

But after two years of record rainfalls, the locations no longer existed in Australia. “We needed to find a shooting location where it never rains,” Miller says. “And that’s Namibia.”

Near the southern tip of Africa, Namibia stands at the crosswinds of icy currents from Antarctica and heat radiating out of the African desert, which provided the unique climate needed for a Wasteland. Swakopmund, on the Skeleton Coast, was an appropriate hub for a large production, and the sprawling Namib Desert offered the filmmakers a variety of looks and a limitless staging ground for a Road War. “There’s nothing,” Miller states. “It’s just one big, wonderful landscape, which was perfect for the world we were trying to create.”

The company then set about breaking down, packing up, and shipping out every component of the massive production, including 150 vehicles, from the east coast of Australia to the west coast of Africa.

While the Wasteland would be forged in Namibia, Gibson realized the Citadel through a network of sets built in Namibia, Sydney and Cape Town, South Africa. “Historically there have always been Citadels,” he says. “There’s always been that last bastion, so we had a chance to organize it into a vertically aligned society of fascist feudalism.”

The termite mound-style towers of the Citadel and surrounding vistas were created digitally by visual effects supervisor Jackson and his team. “The rock walls are based on the Blue Mountains, just west of Sydney,” Jackson reveals. “We flew a helicopter very close to these massive cliffs and took a lot of highly detailed, high-resolution stills. Then, using PhotoScan software, we turned the stills into big CG wall elements, which we could cut up and bend into the shape of the Citadel. That gave us a very photographic and realistic result.”

The base of the Citadel was partially constructed of faux stone and real sand, with deep pools and walls, and roads and ridges, landscaped to tie into the CG environment. The entire three-towered rock caldera was then designed and dropped into a digital Wasteland by visual effects art director David Nelson.

The interior Citadel sets represented different areas and levels of importance to the society, from workers’ areas to the Immortan’s own eyrie and hideaway, the BioDome, as well as the antechamber and overhang where he dispenses the occasional burst of Aqua Cola to the masses. The Immortan’s symbol-a skull encased in a burning steering wheel, merging the car and death-was developed by Peter Pound, and became a recurring symbol in the War Rig, the Nux Car and the Doof Wagon, as he developed early designs for each of these vehicles. That yawning maw, swallowing all before it, has even been carved into the Citadel balcony to make the Immortan’s appearances much more imposing.

Where it’s most ubiquitous is the steering wheels-the ‘keys’ to the Immortan’s armada-that formed the Altar set, created as both a shrine to the Immortan and an homage to those who’ve died in glorious battle. Adjacent to the Altar is the Blood Bank, a combination ad-hoc hospital, holding pen for Blood Bags, and workshop, where War Boys make tools and weapons.

Additional sets included the Mechanics Workshop, the Ponnix gardens, the Drain, the Milkers’ Room, and the Winch Room-epic in scale and steel, with enormous human-powered drums that winch up to safety the trucks, armory and salvage from the surrounding Wasteland. The warren of tunnels and catacombs where Max makes his desperate flight and recapture was also built, beginning at the Cell, a blacksmith’s nightmare of torture and body art.

When the action pushes outside the sphere of the Citadel, the design team had the opportunity to shape three tribes that have adapted to the harsh environs of the Wasteland, the first of which churns out from beneath its surface. Hunters of carrion trawling the wastes for metal scraps and ordnance, the Buzzards are mummy-like specters in bandages, mouth screens and goggles.

Raining death from above rather than below are the Rock Riders, who stalk the foreboding canyon through which the War Rig must pass, found at Namibia’s Swakop River Valley. Here, the masked “hyenas on motorbikes,” as Gibson calls them, strike from across and atop the steep canyon walls on customized off-road motorcycles. Gibson and his art department built ramps and rollercoasters to augment the tribe’s maneuvers practically, and Jackson’s visual effects department built out the canyon walls to make them even more imposing. “The Rock Riders’ system of attack derives from living high and being able to move up and down the canyon walls with gravity-defying skill,” he notes.

To find a team that could perform the Rock Riders’ virtuoso maneuvers, Norris reached outside the stunt community to enlist five-time Australian Motocross Champion and leading freestyle coach Stephen Gall to help gather a skilled team of freestylers. Says Norris, “We wanted to create action that’s never been seen before, and Stephen has his fingers on the pulse of all the best Motocross racers and freestylers out there. And what his guys did on this film was just above and beyond. It was amazing.”

Mitchell adds that all the film’s motorcycle action was made possible through the skill of rigging coordinator and second unit stunt coordinator Keir Beck. “These motorcyclists had to launch themselves through some precipitous areas, but Keir laid down nets to make sure everyone would be safe.”

Motorcycles are also the vehicle of choice of the Vuvalini, a badass tribe of warrior women eking out an existence on an arid dunescape at the edge of the known world, which the production found between Namibia’s Swakop River and Walvis Bay. In stark contrast to the status-projecting ensembles found at the Citadel, the Vuvalini wear clothes made for the harsh existence they experience in the wastes. “They have an outfit that covers them, but part of it is stretched over fishing pole frames that turn into shade for driving in the desert or shelter for night,” Gibson offers.

The last remaining vestiges of a matriarchal society, the Vuvalini are brought to life by Megan Gale as The Valkyrie and Melissa Jaffer as the Keeper of the Seeds, along with Melita Jurisic, Gillian Jones, Joy Smithers, Antoinette Kellerman and Christina Koch. Lathouris calls the Vuvalini “the people who are most capable of bringing any kind of sanity to the world.”

For Theron, the introduction of a tribe like the Vuvalini illuminates Miller’s layered presentation of women in “Mad Max: Fury Road.” “George has set up a fascinating dynamic with the women in this film,” she says. “Having these young girls escape with Furiosa and meet up with women in their sixties, seventies, eighties-who rage into the Road War on motorbikes-he’s really exploring women in this world at every age, and that’s not always how it goes down in a wall-to-wall action movie.”

Over the course of events, they too will pit their bikes and their will against the vast armada unleashed by the Immortan Joe…

 

Supercharged Fury

We are not things!” – the Wives

The nearly 150 cars, trucks and bikes hand-crafted for “Mad Max: Fury Road” are true characters in the film, some originated by chief “gear-head” and storyboard artist Peter Pound, and all realized by chief “rev-head” Colin Gibson. Practical vehicles made from salvage, the film’s brawny fleet of vehicles were built to not only fit the logic of the story and the role each plays in the action, but to also survive months of hard driving on the wide open deserts of Namibia. “Technically, the desert terrain and climate made for logistic problems-overheating, wear on suspension, clogged aspirators, etc.-but those very antagonisms added to the beauty and sheer physics of the action with swirling dust, spat sand and airborne vehicles,” Gibson says.

Miller’s initial ground rules definitely applied to this menagerie of mechanized death machines. “Forty-five years post the apocalypse, the vehicles most likely to survive and have some chance of functioning would be those without microprocessors, computer chips, or the crumple technology that you have in today’s cars,” Miller observes. “The old school muscle cars and rat rods have the stiffer bodies, and are less aerodynamic, and using vehicles from the ’80s right back to the ’40s gives them a certain style as well.”

More than any other vehicle, this aesthetic is embodied by the Interceptor, Max Rockatansky’s signature black 1974 XB Ford Falcon Coupe. “In the Westerns, the cowboys had their favorite horse and Max has his Interceptor,” Miller notes.

Like Max himself, we find the Interceptor as a wounded survivor on the Wasteland, haunted and reshaped by Road Wars past. Though the weathered but still sexy death machine met its fiery end in “The Road Warrior,” we meet it again in “Mad Max: Fury Road” as, Gibson describes, “a legend spotted in the gutter, rusted through and rattling with one too many repairs and far too few original parts.”

At the Citadel, the Interceptor is restored, and returns, ground bare, double-aspirated, augmented with 4-wheel drive, and weaponized to wreak havoc in an ever more brutal future. The classic chassis isn’t as sleek as its predecessor but considerably more muscular and deadly. “They make it more extreme,” Miller says. “Everything about the Interceptor was black, but the War Boys polish it to a matte silver, arm it with more firepower, and install a massive engine.”

The most valuable vehicle on the dunes is Furiosa’s War Rig, which is branded, intimidating, and as resilient as its driver. “The War Rig is a distinct presence in the film, so we spent a huge amount of time designing it,” Miller offers. “It’s covered in tar and pitch. They put spikes and skeletons on it to keep people away and to project a sense of dread to anyone who would want to attack it. It had to be very functional, but it also had to be memorable. After the human characters, the War Rig is probably the most important character in the film.”

Conceived by Peter Pound, the War Rig was made from a bastardized Czechoslovakian Tatra and Chev Fleetmaster, fused into a six-wheel-drive 18-wheeler powered by twin V8 engines end-to-end that haul its massive double-payload of a bulky fuel tank and trailing fuel pod. Welded to the hull are VW Bug and truck cabin shells that serve as mobile forts for War Boys, who also track with the War Rig across the desert in a convoy of Citadel cars and motorcycles. The interior reflects the strategic and intuitive mind of its driver, from racks of tools and concealed weapons to a wirework steering wheel skull that subverts the Immortan’s symbol.

The Warlord himself sits high at the wheel of the imposing Gigahorse, a rolling fever dream of excess, carnality and brute force. Miller calls the Gigahorse a “Cadillac on steroids”-a fuel-injected double threat that mates a pair of 1959 Cadillac Devilles, which have been split, widened and mounted one atop the other to jut arrogantly skyward from its bladed maw to its jacked-up tail fins. The beast is powered through a custom gearbox that harmonizes its twin V16 engine and two-meter-high double rear wheels. “Armed with whaler’s harpoon and the devil’s own flamethrower, the Gigahorse is likely the first thing you hear and the last thing you see on the Fury Road,” Gibson smiles.

Nux launches himself into the Road War inside a souped-up Chevrolet 5-door coupe-with Max lashed to the hood and Slit manning Thundersticks at the rear-ready to drive them all into a glorious death. Nux venerates the Immortan on his steering wheel and the hood. “But his true god is the engine, his real church, the car,” Gibson says.

Nux’s super-turbocharged, nitrous-boosted chariot is made from a polished steel chassis fitted with a coiled V8 engine, canted wheels and swooping, wing-like exhaust pipes. He has decorated the interior with random toys and objects he’s found over the length of his short life, from his eyeball stick shift to his doll-face steering wheel.

At the opposite end of Nux’s hot rod is Bigfoot, the monster truck of choice for Rictus Erectus, played by Nathan Jones. “Rictus is the Immortan’s oldest son, and needs a vehicle that befits a seven-foot-tall man-child,” Miller comments. “And, of course, it’s armed with harpoons and other weapons.”

A modified 1940s Fargo workhorse, Bigfoot sports the harpoon in the back, along with a belt-driven machine gun. Within its beaten steel frame, a supercharged V8 tamed by a turbo 400 auto transmission powers its cartoonishly large 66-inch Terra tires via a planetary gear reduction hub set in heavy duty axles from an ex-military supertanker. With four feet of suspension and almost 600 cubic inches of displacement, Bigfoot, Gibson states, “is the only vehicle capable of climbing a fallen mountain.”

The sheer volume of vehicles exploding across the Wasteland is matched only by the effectiveness and variety of their hardware. Yamaha motorcycles race side-by-side with a fleet of supercharged, weaponized Caltrops carrying the Immortan’s personal retinue of convoy guards. For off-road action, there’s a pack of Buggies of all shapes and sizes, along with the Citadel’s complement of Fire Cars, Mack Trucks and a Car Carrier that can roll into action when called to arms.

In the world of the Road Warrior, there are machines built for transport, combat or speed, but only one built to rock. A rolling intimidator and rally machine, the Doof Wagon is a sonic carmageddon on wheels-pumping Immortan Joe’s gang of War Boys full of kamikaze gusto as their torqued-out, supercharged V8 engines bomb into battle. The gantry-like mobile stage is stacked high with gargantuan speakers, PA systems and repurposed air-conditioning ducts to reverberate the driving beat of Taiko drummers into the sand. The Doof Warrior swings from a bungee cord mounted to the front as he shreds metal and flame from a double-necked electric guitar/flamethrower.

When Immortan Joe marshals his gangs for war, he needs all the fuel the People Eater can refine and carry from the boiling flats of Gas Town. The vehicle of choice for the Guardian of Gas Town is a Mercedes stretch limo with lattice cut-out windows perched on a horizontal cracking tower that refines fuels from oil even as it hurtles across the desert. Every inch of the People Eater vehicle oozes consumption and excess, from its bulging tanks of fuel to its ostentatiously embellished grill. Miller notes, “The People Eater is a kind of bean counter for the Immortan Joe, so we figured if he had a Mercedes stretch limousine, he might as well decorate it with just about every fancy car grill he can find.”

Never far from the People Eater’s exhaust cloud are a host of Fire Cars, along with a supercharged V8 Volkswagen Bug, beaten into a slick silver finish that reflects the People Eater’s domed head, and sporting triple exhaust pipes, a double-barrel flamethrower, and drums of fuel that ape the piping, drums, coils and condensation vats of its Master.

If the Road War was waged on unbroken flatlands, it would be anyone’s game. But in the mercurial Wasteland, with its omnipresent threat of toxic storms, sand pits and hungry bogs, the Bullet Farmer shines. “George, in his storytelling, has some great punctuation to the chase-one of which is the Night Bog, which immobilizes a lot of vehicles,” Gibson offers. “And what can go through a bog but a tank?”

A brassy 1970s Valiant chassis welded to the body of a U.S.-made Ripsaw Tank, the Bullet Farmer’s signature assault vehicle, ironically named the Peacemaker, marries machine gun, tank tread and torpedo over a water-cooled Merlin V8. Styled with aviation parts, a shark mouth finish of bullets, and carrying an enormous armory befitting Immortan Joe’s exclusive weapons dealer, this unstoppable, highly-maneuverable, and visually striking war machine can surpass more than 60 kilometers-an-hour and give not a quarter to the treacherous terrain.

The Bullet Farmer Convoy is equally deadly as they trawl the Wasteland in menacing Claw Cars, designed to crush, and, as the name suggests, claw anything in their wake. The Claw Cars are repurposed from, among other vehicles, an International Ute, and a viciously toothed Ford F250 tow truck. “They have ridiculous contraptions at the back that are like giant rakes or giant anchors that they then drop and dig into the earth to provide a counterforce,” explains principal storyboard artist Mark Sexton. “And then they use the force of the claws digging through the earth to slow down the opposing vehicles.”

Included in this heavily armed convoy is the Ploughboy, an EH wagon jacked up over an off-road frame and rigged with harpoon and hydraulic-driven plough to till the battlefield for spoils, whether metal or flesh.

The tribes that appear in the film also have their signature vehicles. The Buzzard tribe bursts from the cracked earth in spiked jalopies and their hulking “mother” vehicle, the Buzzard Excavator. These carrion-trawling machines are purpose-built to crush, puncture, tear apart and tunnel through anything in their path. The Buzzard Excavator was built from a M.A.N. 6 X 6 tractor and fitted with 1,757 menacing spikes-exactly the number of quills the art department counted on the hide of a Tasmanian Echidna, the Australian anteater that inspired it-with the remaining Buzzards receiving the bulk of the 5,000 steel spikes hand-manufactured from recycled car panels for the film.

Nimble as mountain goats, the Rock Riders skate the cliffs in highly adapted Gas Gas and Yamaha motorcycles. The Vuvalini have patched-together their own swarm of motor bikes, which are as tough, versatile and resilient as they are. Modified heavy touring bikes, the Vuvalini’s rides of choice hearken back to the golden age of motorcycles, with leather seats customized with feminine detail and nomadic styling that, says Gibson, “give you the last thrill of your last ride before these lovely old bikie chicks take you out with a single shot.”

Finally, after a decade of design, creation, fine tuning and final touches, the film’s 150 mechanized war machines charged into a real life Road War when put to the ultimate test on the sands of the Namib desert. Many weathered the storm, not all survived, but each earned its keep. “All of them were out there for many big scenes, particularly at the beginning,” Miller allows. “Then, bit by bit, there was an attrition. It can’t be helped-it’s a war.”

 

Staging the Road War

Out here everything hurts.” – Furiosa

Just before principal photography officially commenced on the plains of the Namib desert, Miller converged a small unit on Rossing Mountain to shoot the film’s opening sequence, which introduces Max as a ragged desert rat before promptly hurling him into a catastrophic crash, tipped off by a War Boy’s incoming Thunderstick.

In the driver’s seat of the Interceptor for the first time in more than 30 years, Guy Norris was ready. “Guy was just 21 when we made ‘The Road Warrior,’ and virtually every time you saw somebody, it was him,” Miller reveals. “In that film, he did a stunt called the T-bone, which is now quite famous. All these years later, he wanted to take that stunt into overdrive, and roll a car more times than anyone has ever done before.”

The only catch was that in a film that unfolds in near-constant motion, Miller wanted to keep a steady camera, which meant the rapid-fire series of rolls would have to come to a stop right in front of the camera. Norris had brainstormed the stunt with Dan Oliver and his co-special effects supervisor Andrew Williams. They decided to reengineer a lever-triggered air ram, nicknamed the Flipper, to launch the Interceptor into a roll. To trigger the stunt required precise timing and handling, so Norris volunteered to do it himself. In an explosion of dust, he not only brought the car to a perfect stop on its mark, he rolled it eight and a half times-setting a new record for the highest number of wheel-to-wheel revolutions in a film stunt.

“The Road Warrior” was Norris’s first major film and he credits Miller with setting a standard that he took with him through each film that followed. “My theory is that George is Mad Max, and we’re just experiencing this world through a character who is very much a part of him,” Norris reflects. “He sees movies from the audience’s point of view, and I think he wanted to strap them to front of that vehicle with Max from the very first moment. It was all there visually; my job was to figure out how to achieve everything George wanted to do.”

Deploying the production of “Mad Max: Fury Road” across the deserts of Namibia was staggering in volume alone. At the height of filming, the company topped 1,700 crew, with an average of 1,000 people on set at any given time. The whole operation required five 8 X 8 former German military transport trucks just to haul gear from location to location. “It was a huge pyramid of people, and we never stayed in one location,” Mitchell details. “We had to move our base camp-which was the equivalent three football fields in size-six times over 120 days.”

Miller and Norris had enlisted warfare and weapons advisor Jon Iles, whose insight in military tactics and strategy became invaluable. “He was part of the crew and became a sort of sergeant-at-arms on top of the War Rig,” Norris details. “We would shoot for months and talk about warfare-how would you attack a convoy in real life? How would you defend an armored vehicle? And Jon’s expertise went from Iraq back to World War I and beyond.”

On a production of this scope, with stunts on this scale, safety was clearly key on the set of “Mad Max: Fury Road.” Safety officer Sean Rigby is a former stunt man, who understood the dynamics and physics of action movies, and kept a close watch on all the stunts and special effects that punctuated each shooting day.

When not riding along with the Edge Arm, Miller’s base of operations during shooting was a mobile “video village” bus set up by video split operator Zeb Simpson, with images from all units and vehicle-mounted cameras beamed simultaneously to its array of monitors.

On “Mad Max: Fury Road,” John Seale was working for the first time with digital cameras. To engineer a day-for-night effect in-camera for the Night Bog sequence, set amid the desalination ponds at a salt factory on Walvis Bay, he learned a new trick from visual effects supervisor Jackson. “They had done tests and suggested we overexpose it two stops,” Seale recalls. “That was against the grain because we usually underexposed two stops to get day-for-night. But, printed down, it got us down a darker look, without a lot of noise in the shadow areas, and gave us a beautiful, moonlit effect.”

While stunts and gags were captured across multiple desert fronts, the film’s operatic armada chase was shot live on the vast expanse of Blanky Flats in Henties Bay. For Theron, full immersion in Miller’s signature rolling thunder was nothing short of awe-inspiring. “As an actor, you prepare for certain things that you have to do, but on this film, there were moments when you see things you weren’t prepared for,” she says. “Like stunt guys doing these fight sequences on wires and poles, or watching real explosions, and you’re actually driving the War Rig-it was amazing to watch. You realize you really are in a world. There is no green screen. This is a director giving you the opportunity to embed in a whole world. That’s such a great gift.”

When the actors needed to be at the wheel during action-heavy sequences, the stunt team mounted remote drive pods to the vehicles, which allowed them to take full control. One of the most brutal sequences-the hulking Buzzard Excavator plowing Nux’s car backwards through the sand-required a remote drive pod on the rear of the car rather than the front. To make that happen, the wheels would need to be steered from the back, which required a complete redesign and re-engineering of the car’s dynamics by the stunt and special effects teams.

Mitchell notes that no matter what the action called for, the goal was always total reality wherever possible. “That reality comes from having 150 vehicles in the desert, with hundreds of people performing on a daily basis. You can sense how real it is when you watch it happen in front of your eyes onscreen.”

There were times, however, when Miller had to bring the vehicles to a standstill to have greater communication with the actors during key scenes. For this he had Sim Trav, a technique Miller himself pioneered on the “Mad Max” films. Seale reveals, “Very early on, George realized he couldn’t shoot a truck roaring across the desert and be able to guide and direct his actors. So he and Dean Semler, who shot the early movies, essentially invented Sim Trav by lowering the frame-rate, shooting it handheld, and letting the camera shake. On this film, the special effects boys got their hydraulics and built these amazing rigs, so you can just rock the heck out of all the vehicles.”

With Sim Trav, Miller was able to keep real people in real cars even in the vortex of a massive toxic storm. The giant tornado that sweeps the vehicles up into its throat is, of course, 100% digital. “There’s obviously no practical option for a shot like that,” Jackson says.

Jackson’s team used stills from a small fixed-wing drone and PhotoScan photogrammetry software to create textured 3D models of the Namibian terrain. Plotting the GPS paths of the vehicles and cameras into these terrain models, they were able to merge the movement data, live action, and the digital wall of chaos into one complete, seamless image. Jackson would ultimately set up a post-vis team of 3D artists, led by Graham Olsen and Aaron Auty, to render rough visual effects from the moment production wrapped, streamlining the effects process and allowing Miller to fine tune each shot before it was handed over to be rendered as finished visual effects.

Nearly half of the film takes place with the actors inside the cab of the War Rig, so the sound department installed rugged cases containing 12 receivers and transmitters from Sputnik Sound Systems, which could be multiplexed into one antenna to transmit up to two kilometers. A remote moving van also tracked with the tanker to record ambient sound effects from inside and out.

Miller observes that the internal drama playing out amid the non-stop action outside the War Rig created its own world. “Here we were out there in this vast desert, and for a lot of the time, our cast was huddled together in the cabin of that vehicle like a little ark of lost souls, and that feeling seeped into the movie.”

For Theron, it was like working without a net. “In a world of such dire straits as this, words are a luxury,” she says. “But trying to get some feeling across without speaking, and in a very small space, you’re forced into a direction that is out of your comfort zone. I give George a lot of credit for knowing how to reveal this film’s incredible emotional arc with very little dialogue. I suddenly realized how much I had relied on words as an actor. It also took me back to my days as a dancer where you have to tell a story with just your body, and once you made peace with that, it actually became very liberating.”

“The dynamics within the vehicle was almost like a silent movie,” Hardy adds. “We were trying to communicate as actors a physical drama which is going on outside the War Rig with all these vehicles and explosions coming at you. And then you have this Greek chorus in the form of the girls in the back. And, at the same time, you’re trying to tell a story of a road to redemption. George put us in that silent place in the middle of this cacophony of chaos, and we had to go there with him.”

For Hoult, it was sometimes challenging to remember he was supposed to be acting. “George takes everything to the next level, and dropping into his world was an extreme experience, but also a life-changing one,” he attests. “You’re driving in the middle of all these explosions, and seeing Polecats swing through the air and landing on trucks or motorbikes, and all you want to do is just watch it happen before your eyes. But then you see there’s a camera pointed at you, and you realize, ‘Oh, man, they’ve been shooting me all this time.'”

All the actors dove into a rigorous training regimen to both discover and hone what fighting and stunt sequences they could safely do. Prior to arriving on set, Theron had done significant strength training, primarily upper-body yoga and inversions. “I look like a football player in this movie,” she smiles. “But I hate the idea of scrawny little girls fighting men and then winning. I wanted to look like I had tremendous upper-body strength because there was so much physicality in the movie.”

Her biggest test was the hand-to-hand combat that breaks out on the sand between Max and Furiosa, with Nux and all five Wives entering the fray. This scene, like the armada siege, was shot on Blanky Flats over the first three weeks of shooting. Furiosa is caught without her mechanical arm, which meant Theron could not use that hand throughout the sequence. “When you’re in the throes of a big fight scene, the adrenaline’s pumping, and you’re just trying to be an animal, surviving,” she relates. “You don’t realize how much you use your hands, and it’s hard to get yourself off the ground with just one.”

Theron worked with Dayna Chiplin and principal fight choreographer and weapons advisor Greg Van Borssum to perform the fight herself. “Charlize was constantly saying, ‘I can do that action better,'” Miller remarks. “She has incredible attention to each detail, in everything from how she fired her weapon to how her hand moved on the stick shift.”

Norris observes that Hardy likewise developed highly nuanced body language for the role. “You could watch him with the sound off in this film and know exactly what’s happening. And Tom did so much action himself-climbing on top of the War Rig and running along its length, hanging from his feet inches off the ground-that’s all Tom. Whatever we thought Tom could safely do, he would do.”

“Tom has the raw energy of the rugby player,” Miller adds. “He is one of those actors who will try anything. His favorite saying on the set of ‘Fury Road’ was, ‘Let’s try it and see what it isn’t.’ And he’s exactly right. It’s a way to free yourself as an actor not to be afraid of failure.”

For the actor, the key to Max’s physicality is that he’s not made of steel. “Everything costs in this world,” Hardy says. “That’s a symbiotic theme throughout George’s Wasteland. It costs a human being. There’s pain. And it’s technically very uncool to be a superhero that hurts. But if you smash your face into the dirt, you have to play it. This is tough, so I make it look tough. That really earthed it for me, to physically accept vulnerability.”

Hardy and his stunt-double Jacob Tomuri were true partners throughout the film, working closely to divide up Max’s considerable stunt load. But Hardy credits Tomuri with the majority of action Max sees-particularly his face-melting entry into the armada. “Jacob did the gnarly stuff,” Hardy demurs. “I just did a bit of hanging upside down, which is still pretty gnarly. But my exposure to great speed on front of the car was probably about 30 or 40 miles-per-hour, tops. Jacob, on the other hand, was exposed to far greater speeds, and not just going forward, but in reverse, and doing 360s on numerous occasions, with explosions and gunfire. So, to be fair, I had it pretty easy.”

Miller remarks that at times, it was difficult to tell the actors from the stunt team. “We tried to meld the two, particularly in the War Boys and the Imperators. So, in many ways, we had our own off-camera Fury Road, as it were.”

Throughout production, a 17-strong team of local rehabilitation experts worked around the clock to maintain the film’s locations during filming. After the “Mad Max: Fury Road” production left Namibia for additional shooting in Cape Town, the rehabilitation team spent three more months restoring each location to its original beauty.

 

The Final Chase

In this Wasteland, I am the one who runs from both the living and the dead. A man reduced to a single instinct: survive.” – Max

For the better part of 15 years, “Mad Max: Fury Road” existed as an idea, and by the time the film wrapped, that idea had metamorphosed into 400 hours of footage. To transform it into a tight 110 minutes of emotion and pure action, Miller put it in the hands of his editor and longtime collaborator Margaret Sixel to, as he says, “engineer the dimensions of time and forge all the pieces into one seamless immersive experience.”

Says Mitchell, who has been there every step of the way, “It was not an easy thing to do, but Margaret stood side-by-side with George, and together they pulled this thing through to the level of quality that it is. She did an extraordinary job, with a great team behind her.”

To render the live footage from Namibia into the Wasteland of his imagination, Miller collaborated with look development and supervising colorist Eric Whipp, and with re-recording mixers Chris Jenkins and Gregg Rudloff to realize the clash and concussion of the Road War. But the dimension of the film’s sound would not be fully explored until Grammy-nominated producer and composer Tom Holkenborg aka Junkie XL entered the fray.

Miller had long been a fan of the experimental music of Junkie XL, but when the filmmaker invited him to collaborate on the score, Junkie XL recognized that his job would be to take it to the next level. “When you’re watching the film, you’re in a world that has gone completely mad, so I knew the music couldn’t be a standard action score,” the composer says. “It needed to be incredibly over the top to fit the imagery, almost as if it were a modern rock opera.”

He chartered the Wasteland with tempered moments of stillness and heightened levels of psychotic abandon, utilizing nearly 200 instruments to weave a blend of beating drums, sweeping strings and electric guitar-driven operatic themes. “In the moments you leave the super mad world and get back to the humanity of the characters, the music, too, gets stripped down,” he says. “For these scenes, I incorporated woodwinds and used the string section as the driving force. The result is instrumentation that encompasses big, brutal percussion and an 80-voice choir, with string sections and musical sound design, and everything in between.”

For Miller, the final product was a revelation, which he calls “an enormous testament to all the people who put all their wisdom into the work. I’ve watched the film so many thousands of times with Margaret, but I now find myself able to sit back with a degree of pleasure and let it carry me along.”

“Creating an experience for the audience has always been George’s goal, and the reason he has worked so hard to make this film, and I think he’s succeeded,” says Mitchell. “‘Fury Road’ is like nothing I’ve ever seen, and I’m not sure there will ever be anything like it in our lifetimes.”

Hardy attests, “George batted everything into his story with due diligence and care, and he went out there and shot it frame-by-frame for months until he got everything he wanted onto the screen, and it’s awesome. This is the film that so many people have been waiting for, and nobody has been waiting quite as long as George has to make sure it happened.”

Miller himself looks back and reflects that all those years and all that mileage were in service to this moment. “A film does not exist without an audience,” he says. “It doesn’t exist on a disc or in a can. It’s in the cinema where we congregate with strangers, and we give ourselves to the screen. It’s a shared experience. And only in that act do we know what we’ve wrought. I hope the audience will make their own connections and that the film will have some meaning for them.”

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