All the Mad Max films and the Australians & Hollywood exhibition are coming | The Canberra Times

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Mad Max (1979), a film made during the Australian cinema renaissance of the 1970s, might have seen an unlikely international blockbuster. Its lead actor was an American-born unknown and there were no big names in the cast. Its director and co-writer, George Miller, was a former doctor making his feature film debut with a violent, post-apocalyptic low-budget action movie, often filmed guerrilla-style. But the dystopian Mad Max, with Mel Gibson as highway patrol cop Max Rockatansky, who embarks on a revenge spree against the bikies who killed his family, went on to become a huge international hit. Both Miller and Gibson went on to major Hollywood careers. Miller’s later films included Lorenzo’s Oil, The Witches of Eastwick, Babe and the two Happy Feet animated features. Gibson found success on both sides of the camera, starring in such films as the Lethal Weapon series and directing and starring in the Oscar-winning Braveheart. The original film was followed by Mad Max 2 (1981) and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985) – both starring Gibson – and a “revisiting”, Mad Max: Fury Road (2015) starring Tom Hardy. Although oil was a scarce resource in this world, there was still plenty of hooning about in souped-up vehicles – make of that what you will. All four films will be screened at the Arc Cinema at the National Film and Sound Archive to coincide with the exhibition Australians & Hollywood, a Canberra-only show celebrating Australian contemporary films that opens on January 21. Among the items on display are the customised steering wheels from Mad Max: Fury Road. Mad Max, as noted, kicked off the franchise. While it might be seen as Ozploitation compared to its contemporary Australian films such as Picnic at Hanging Rock and Breaker Morant, its high energy, stunt work and distinctive vehicles and costumes made it a big popular success. The dialogue was originally dubbed by Americans for the US market with unfamiliar slang being replaced but the action spoke a universal language. Max Max 2: The Road Warrior was also a big hit and, with a much higher budget, ramped up the elements that made its predecessor a hit – action, stunts, distinctive visuals – while still retaining a gritty feeling. The story, with settlers fighting marauders, was reminiscent of a Western. It might be the highlight of the series. In Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, Max comes across Bartertown, ruled by Aunty Entity (Tina Turner, who sings We Don’t Need Another Hero on the soundtrack) and is forced to fight a duel in the Thunderdome with Master (a dwarf) and his giant bodyguard Blaster. Max, later exiled and wandering again, comes across another settlement, this time of children and teenagers. This had a much higher budget than its predecessors but was criticised in some quarters – Max spent less time in the Wasteland and some elements, such as the children’s story, were seen as derivative. Miller returned to the franchise with Mad Max: Fury Road (of which the Black and Chrome Edition will be shown on January 23). Although Hardy replaced Gibson, and the budget was huge – well over $300 million – this felt like a return to the early films. Mad Max: Fury Road won many awards including six Oscars. And there will be more: Miller has a Furiosa origin story and another Mad Max tale in the works. For more information on Australians & Hollywood and the Mad Max screenings, visit nfsa.gov.au.

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