Friday, September 4, 2015

Mad Max, Messenger of Hope

What did you hear about Mad Max (the new version)? Too much violence, too many chase scenes, too thin plot.

So when my teen age son suggested we watch it together, I told him I had to do some research first.

Rated R in the US, the rating site I visited described, yes, the violence and some language. But what seemed to have thrown the rating into R territory was—surprisingly—pregnant bodies and lactating women.


That didn’t sound so bad to me. So I was more than happy to make some popcorn and have a look at the new version of a movie from my past.

Creepy, dystopic view of an enslaved society in a damaged world with decrepit (male) leaders in charge, tick. Pumped up warriors with bloodlust who spray their teeth with chrome before they fight, check. Super souped-up vehicles with mega-motors requiring human carburetion, check. Warrior tribes bearing resemblance to creatures of a new and alien world, check. Said souped up vehicles careering through desert in pursuit of… what? It’s a domestic! A family squabble. 

A bunch of “wives” lead by Furiosa, their warrior woman, are escaping enslavement by decrepit male leader who breeds them to populate his brave new world. One of them is visibly pregnant. Furiosa was stolen when she was a child, and wants to go back to the Green Place she remembers.

I love Furiosa!

How come none of the reviews I read mention this feminist take? This allegory of hope powerfully behind the roaring engines? Mad Max is a mature version of The Lorax?

“No, it’s not!!” my son protested. “It’s nothing like The Lorax.” 

“Come on,” I said. “Stay with me: it’s taken a piece of The Lorax, when the last truffula tree was cut down--the ponds are glumped, the Humming fish drowned, land is bared, and Swomee Swans gone (and isn't that biker gang wearing Thneeds??)--and made an interpretation of the Unless ending.

“And what’s the Lorax about?” I persisted. “How does it end?”

“The seed,” he said.

“And someone who cares,” I concluded.

Mad Max is a noisy, messy, crazy chase in the pursuit of hope!

Furiosa leads the way, in her search for redemption. And Max, a man of very few words, grudgingly reveals his own buried desire to believe in something better—or at least to support this woman who moves passionately toward it.

I believe that’s the human condition.

Hollywood didn’t manufacture the happy ending, nor did Disney create the dream of romantic love.

They do capitalize on it, but that’s only because it’s within us. We do understand—and sometimes it requires the feminine to illuminate it—that everything is yin and yang. There’s good in the bad and bad in the good, and it’s all one piece.

It’s the very essence of life. It's the message (for example) of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. It's the power we all hold. It's a choice we must all make. 

It’s not exactly a happy ending. It’s a way of looking at the world.

In this movie it’s the women who make the change. They’ve had enough. They make the break. It’s when Max washes his face with mother’s milk that he begins to see, and drops his weapons (or rather, begins to use them in the pursuit of hope).

A surprisingly rich allegory, Mad Max is a lot of fun, and even has a bit of depth.

"But now, says the Once-ler,
Now that you're here,
the word of the Lorax seems perfectly clear.
UNLESS someone like you
cares a whole awful lot,
nothing is going to get better.
It's not."

Thanks, Dr. Seuss.

1 comment:

Neil said...

Mel Gibson is spinning in his grave. Wait, is he dead?