Wednesday, 20 May 2015

Why George Miller Should Be Praised for Mad Max: The Feminist.

The internet is abuzz with anger. The popular post-apocalyptic action series Mad Max finally got its fourth film and it featured less of Tom Hardy as Max. It's mainstay some say was Christine Theron's Imperator Furiosa. A tough-as-nails woman who betrays the tyrannical oppressor Immortan Joe, steals his gasoline-loaded truck and his many wives (breeders as they are called) so that they and their to be born children have a better shot at life in a place that still has some greenery.

As you can guess, a chase ensues. And Mad Max doesn't fail on that count. It features some of the most stellar action sequences of our times. Director George Miller (who I was unfortunately only familiar with because of his dramatic works like Lorenzo's Oil) doesn't use modern-day  CGI toys to deliver cheap thrills. He reinvents the wheel with each stunning chase. Heck, every time the screen fades to black, we see the world from Max's point of view and more than often Miller shows us something breathtakingly surreal. Miller reimagines the world where violence is a reflex and serves stunning set-pieces every 15 minutes of the movie. And the set pieces feel organic to the storyline. The movie itself is one elaborate road movie where Max learns to respect the women he travels with, sees the fight in them and then joins their fight.

Being a Mad Max movie, it serves enough violence to keep the guys happy. Yet Miller wants to do more. So maybe that's why he consulted Eve Ensler, the writer of The Vagina Monologues and maybe that's what led to the richly textured female characters in the movie. Don't get me wrong. The many wives of the main villain are all hot supermodels. And I'm shallow enough to not complain. But you have to admire them for what they are doing. In a world where men are blinded by violence and driven by base instincts, they still hold on to their pragmatic optimism. They don't resign to their fate like most men have. They fight for it. Even the ones who are pregnant. (By that, I mean a very unconvincing, a very pregnant Rosie Huntington-Whiteley.)

The proceedings such as they are here, you see both Max and his female counterpart Furiosa get equal screen time. While some may argue that Furiosa gets the juicier lines, you'd be blind not to see that Max actually gets more screen time in action scenes. And even then, you have to admit there's nothing really wrong with Mad Max playing second fiddle to a worthy female character. It's 2015. In a world, where female superheroes don't get a shot at their own tentpole flick, Miller managed to sneak in a killer female character who deserves her own sequel. Heck, I'd watch Furiosa's origin story. I'd bet even Max himself would be keen on knowing it. If it's made a few fan boys upset temporarily, so be it. What the world should laud is how Miller put Furiosa in the spotlight.

If he tried to pitch a movie about a Furiosa like character, it'd forever remain a script. Instead, he took Mad Max, a character he created and then introduced her in it. The film was fun action saga. Most men (the main audience for such a film) might not have even noticed Furiosa getting equal footing as Max. Most men left perfectly happy after watching the film. And somewhere in their minds Miller planted the seed that an actioner starring a female actress might be worth watching after all. Miller didn't just deliver the goods with Mad Max, he even made a good case for strong female characters.


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