Thursday, August 6, 2015

Mad Max: Fury Road

“The Garden of Earthly Delights” by Hieronymus Bosch
A post-apocalypse world, ruled by a fiendish demagogue, where, despite the presence of technology, man is reduced to a primitive nomadic existence. That’s the scenario George Miller envisions in the fourth of the popular series, Mad Max Fury Road. The hugely advanced screen graphics enhanced by 3-D is one of the ironies of a movie that's spells out a recipe for catastrophic regression. Doesn’t the landscape of a former country, reduced to huge plains of rubble where small bands adhering to residues of liberation ideology seek oases of freedom, sound frighteningly familiar? In Mad Max: Fury Road one such rebel band is led by the title character (Tom Hardy) and his female counterpart, Furiosa (Charlize Theron). They're seeking to escape the rule of Immortal Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), the local tyrant. The movie is rife with biblical leitmotifs, in particular the wandering in the desert and the search for “the green place,” which, in this case, is the Edenic memory of a vanished world.  Consider that violent action film fantasy is probably close to the psychic reality for a good part of the population of destroyed Middle Eastern societies. It’s easy to understand why ISIS seeks to obliterate the great monuments of antiquity. If the cradle of civilization were to be totally destroyed, there'd be no past to reclaim, in short no Promised Land. For all the political and religious allegory, the plot of the film with its universe of destruction has become rather familiar to audiences for Armageddon on screen on in advanced computer games. But it’s the visuals that really take over at one point and you begin to wonder what classic you’re reminded of. You quickly discountenance “The Garden of Earthly Delights” or “Guernica” and yet you can’t help thinking about a model, a painting that  imagined the end and resurrection of the world. Perhaps you can’t remember it. Or is it possible that such a work has yet to be?

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