24th May2015

Book Review: ‘The Art of Mad Max: Fury Road’

by Paul Metcalf


Mad Max is officially back in Mad Max: Fury Road and one of the things that attracts people to the film most is the visually stunning action scenes.  With this being a focal point it should be no surprise that an art book has been released to give a glimpse behind the scenes.  The Art of Mad Max: Fury Road by Abbie Bernstein and I had the chance to review it.

To some the new Mad Max film may be controversial because of the use of strong women working as allies with Max which makes no real sense to me and thankfully none of this matters with this book.  In fact if anything it solidifies the fact that the story (or what there is of it between all the chaotic action scenes) is not controversial at all.  With an assumption that the reader has seen the film there are spoilers, but these are to be expected.  Abbie Bernstein shows us the work behind the scenes that went into creating the movie, and what it took to get it onto the screen, also what had to change.

One of the surprising things I learnt from the book is just how long development of the film took, and gladly that it wasn’t a rushed production.  It was developed with a focus of filming in Australia but when the desert type didn’t fit more locations had to be chosen, something I personally wondered about.  It is nice to see that George Miller did work with a focus on getting the movie made in Australia, the roots of both Mad Max and the second movie Road Warrior have not been forgotten.

As a film like Mad Max: Fury Road is the type that needs a lot of planning, especially with the stunt planning we get to see the fruits of this labour, with storyboards and concept art filling the book.  As a fan of Mad Max and the Road Warrior aesthetic I couldn’t help but love some of the art, especially around the War Boys and Immortan Joe.  Some of it didn’t make it to the film but initial designs of Immortan were pretty bad-ass.  I was a fan of Hugh Keays-Byrne’s Toe Cutter character in the original movie so even though this is a totally different character it is interesting to see how he prepared for this new role and how other actors saw reacted to it.

When it comes to the women in the film there is also a detailed look at not only the Wives but also Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron) and the role she plays in being their protector.  There is no controversy with this character really, and if people got past the anti-feminist arguments that seem to be so vocal around the Internet and Pop Culture at the moment and took a second to look at what the film is saying it is easy to realise how much of a “commodity” fertility and health would be in the future in terms of both men and women.  Tt connects with human trafficking that we see today, never mind the apocalyptic future that Max battles in.  The idea that a woman would fight to protect others that are being abused and that she would look to Max Rockatansky for aid to do that? Shocking…really… (yes, I rolled my eyes as I typed that.)

Putting the focus back on Mad Max: Fury Road and The Art of Mad Max: Fury Road I think that it is excellent that the character has made a successful return to the big screen, that it has been done so well and has been welcomed for the most part by the fans.  Action movies should be able to adapt and not be so pigeonholed into just who should be the hero of the tale.  If anything the sex of the person should not be an issue when it comes to the battle for survival.

In The Art of Mad Max: Fury Road by Abbie Bernstein we get to look at the art behind the film and what it took to make it the action extravaganza that it is, more importantly how every character, be it the good guys, the bad guys, be them men or women are all part of what makes the film a success.  Max is back, and with the movie allowing output for a book as good as The Art of Mad Max: Fury Road? I have no complaints with that at all.

***** 5/5

The Art of Mad Max: Fury Road by Abbie Bernstein is out now.

Review originally posted on PissedOffGeek


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