[Book Review] The Art of Mad Max: Fury Road

The Art of Mad Max: Fury Road / Abby Bernstein (Powell's Books)

I've always had a weird relationship with the Mad Max franchise.  It always struck me as something powerful, but it also never made ANY sense to me.  I've seen Road Warrior a number of times and it's not a particularly complicated story line and has pretty straightforward action and I'm always going "what is going on here?"  Of course, some of that might actually be part of the point...

As I've gotten older (plus experienced some emotional trauma), I've also gained a level of squeamishness that adds a layer of difficulty in watching at least the first two films.  This left me largely adoring Mad Max in theory or from afar.

Yet I was excited about Fury Road.  Maybe it has something to do with my love of cars?  The Fast and Furious films are certainly a guilty pleasure for me (particularly as they push the bounds of how few fucks they have to give and go more and more over the top).  Maybe it was the over-the-top post-apocalyptic punk glamour?  It wasn't particularly Tom Hardy, nothing against him, but he's never been an actor that I've had strong associations with regardless of wonderful performances in many movies.   Actually, I do have a strong association with Tom Hardy, I always thing "did he write a whole bunch of classic novels?"  In this case, I attribute that to me being horrible with names and not necessarily just because I tend towards bookish (I mean, I have to struggle to keep Les Paul and Les Claypool straight).

Then I saw Fury Road in the theaters and was floored.  I know it's basically a two hour car chase through the desert, I don't care.  The layers, the story, the acting, the action, the stunts, the cars... beautiful.  I didn't expect the film to be beautiful.  The fact that it also has a strong feminist message, passes the Bechdel test, has layered female characters, and a positive representation of disability (Furiosia doesn't need two hands to beat you) was all just icing on the delicious cake for me.  Though fantastic icing, I have to say.

Every time I learn more about the making of the film I'm blown away.  I've had close to a year at this point to learn about the reliance on practical effects, snippets of character backstory, the stunt work, the building of the cars, and this The Art of Mad Max: Fury Road was still worth reading.

The Art of Mad Max: Fury Road is full of stills, photographs, and concept art.  It tells of the journey of making Fury Road and shares about the individual characters themselves.  There are a few flaws, some bad placement and coloring of text over images making it hard to read, but by and large a very rich and easy to follow book.

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