This week at SXSW, director George Miller introduced a screening of The Road Warrior in 35mm (noting this was his first time watching the entire film in 33 years) and afterwards, answered a few questions. Miller spoke about the screenplay’s 1980 conception, and writing with Terry Hayes as the pair traveled from San Francisco to Australia; the film was released almost exactly a year later.
Director Robert Rodriguez (Sin City, From Dusk Till Dawn) was among fans in the audience, and asked Miller, “…how the hell did you make this? It’s go-for-broke cinema, it feels real.” After complimenting Rodriguez, Miller turned the question around:
“Robert, coming from you…I’m serious, if you want to know how I made it, you just look in the mirror and answer the question yourself.
I think what happened is I spent a year editing Mad Max virtually by myself and I thought of all the things that I failed to achieve then, so this was a second chance. But it was so frenetic, this, it kind of came out of my gut.”
Miller also had a little surprise in store, and while we can’t see the actual Fury Road footage he previewed, there are some great descriptions from those who did. So strap into your favorite
living room wasteland chair, and listen to why we’re so excited about this film.
***Spoiler warning: Actual Fury Road film footage is discussed in detail — if you’d rather not encounter spoilers, back on out.
1. Tom Hardy
There are a handful of actors who so thoroughly throw the entirety of their being into making a movie like Hardy does. He transforms; he becomes. In his quietest roles (The Drop) we can feel the restraint of a thousand words trying to escape his brain, and in his loudest (Bronson), he just chews up the role and spits out a jaw-dropping performance. From the photos alone, we can tell he’ll be the perfect Max.
2. There’ll Be Nods and Callbacks Galore
While assuring the audience that Fury Road won’t be a rerun (he also admitted having repeated a couple gags they’d forgotten about), Miller said there will be — and delivered a couple — nods to The Road Warrior. Here are two descriptions of the first scene screened:
“The first clip he screened was a 6-ish minute sequence that purportedly takes at the beginning of the film’s second act. In a nod to The Road Warrior, it begins with Max Rockatansky bursting up from the sand, his face covered in a metal Hannibal Lecter-esque Max. In chains and with bloody IV tubing sticking out of him, a dusty, parched, and disoriented Max follows his fetters to their source-a pale, battered corpse in the shell of a wrecked car. ” (Nerdist)
“The first bit of footage that Miller showed seems to take place right after the big chase sequence showcased at San Diego Comic Con last year. This was a huge, jaw-dropping sequence with the giant armadas and the guys attached to towering poles and a swirling sandstorm that tosses cars around. The new sequence opened with the trashed vehicle belonging to Nux [Nicholas Hoult]. He’s unconscious and is chained to Max, who has a crazy mask that looks like what would happen if a medieval sword maker designed the Hannibal Lecter muzzle. Not only is Max chained to Nux, but he’s also connected him by some kind of IV [he rips it out with a wet squish]. He tries to get out of his shackles but cannot; he’s chained to Nux’s wrist. Max takes out his sawed off shotgun and points it at Nux’s wrist, and in a great callback to The Road Warrior, the gun misfires. So Max slings Nux over his shoulder and starts tromping through the wasteland [the same scorched post-apocalyptic hellhole that we have all come to know and love].” (Playlist)
3. The Max vs. Imperator Furiosa Fight
From The Playlist comes this fantastic recounting of the SXSW footage:
“…he [Max] comes across a group of women led by Furiosa (Charlize Theron) and including Capable (Riley Keough), Toast (Zoe Kravitz), Splendid (Rosie Huntington-Whiteley) and Fragile (Courtney Eaton). They’re washing themselves with water, to which Max growls ‘water’ [after the footage was screened, Miller said that this was the first word that Max says in the entire movie, 20 minutes in]. Splendid tries to free Max of his chains but can’t. And that’s when he and Furiosa start to brawl. And it’s a terrific fight. The sequence is both comedic and intense, displaying Miller’s gift for upping the ante in terms as it unfolds…At some point, Nux wakes up and joins in the fight, using the chain that links him and Max to trip Furiosa. Finally, Max gets his grubby hands on an actual working gun and fires several bullets at her.”
4. Badass Charlize and Scrappy Hoult
If there’s one thing I’ve come to love about Charlize Theron, it’s her ability to convey the normalcy of a strong and beautiful woman. We know she’s gorgeous, but she likes to kick the Hollywood stereotype of the one-dimensional woman in its ass. With or without any footage or even the descriptions, there’s no doubt in our minds Theron can hold her own —physically and mentally — against Hardy.
Of Charlize, co-star Nicholas Hoult says she’s a “…brilliant lady to watch work and be around. And she also has a good sense of humor, so she takes my shit and gives it back to me. There’s a balancing act where you’re there to work, but you know what? You’ll take the piss out of me and I’ll take the piss out of you. You’ve got to lighten the mood sometimes.”
Hoult’s Nux looks pretty badass as well, and apparently…
he’s a scrappy dude.
“reports of Nicholas Hoult’s [Nux] demise were greatly exaggerated as the pale, wiry man springs back to life. He and Max fight the group of elite warrior women from opposite ends of the chain. It’s a kinetic, visceral, bone-crunching fight that ends with Max ultimately getting the drop on Furiosa as we fade to black. There was a moment of stunned silence before the theater erupted in applause.” (Nerdist)
5. George Miller’s Absolute Dedication to Making It Great
What’s clear from his appearance at SXSW is the director’s passion for the Mad Max films, both past and future. After his re-watch of The Road Warrior and the Fury Road clips, and a standing ovation, Martin said he was “feeling bewildered” by the two films swirling through his head (he’d also just finished the final Fury Road cut two nights before).
After Robert Rodriguez called the director a “cinematic icon,” Miller responded humbly.
“The problem is I can take myself too seriously. And the big thing that drives you to make a film is that sweat that you say ‘it’s just not good enough.’ And you do drive people nuts trying to get it as best as you can. By the time we got to Fury Road, we finished the movie two nights ago, and I said to everyone thanks for staying around because I know I can drive people nuts. Because we try to get it right.”
A new trailer cut especially for SXSW was also shown; unfortunately, word is we won’t get that version online (at least not anytime soon), but Nerdist fills us in:
“The trailer begins with Furiosa driving the big rig into an ominous canyon and yelling that she brought the gasoline she had been contracted for. Meanwhile, Max is hiding in the vehicle with a pistol in hand. Scanning the horizon, Furiosa sees a handful of raiders at the top of the ravine, and correctly deduces that it’s an ambush after all. Suddenly, a war party of Wasteland raiders appears and they blow up a rock wall, caving in one of the exits to the canyon. What follows is akin to past trailers-fast-moving cuts of vehicular warfare, tribes of Wastelanders (including some that seem to be worshipping a steering wheel), and tense shots of Max, Furiosa, and our heroes trying desperately to evade capture. It ends with Nicholas Hoult shrieking, ‘Oh what a day! What a lovely day!’”
(Images, via Total Film)
If you missed the trailer, here it is again:
Mad Max: Fury Road also stars Hugh Keays-Byrne, Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, Zoë Kravitz, Nathan Jones and Riley Keough. It rocks theaters May 15, 2015.