Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Yeah, I Took My Kids to See "Mad Max: Fury Road"

The Mad Max series runs on violence, and the most recent installment adds two tanks of nitrous oxide to the engine. Rafer Guzman of Newsday calls Fury Road "a sonic-speed juggernaut of violence and destruction." Michael Phillips of the Chicago Tribune dubs it "a gargantuan grunge symphony of vehicular mayhem that makes Furious 7 look like Curious George." For Geoff Pevere of the Globe and Mail, the film is "a double-barrelled shotgun enema straight to the senses."

Here's the plot.

Following a nuclear war, vast wastelands are controlled by anyone who can get enough water and gasoline to dominate the people around him. "Immortan Joe" (Hugh Keays-Byrne) leads a cult centered around the flourishing of his own sons, many of whom have a genetic disease that requires regular blood transfusions as treatment. Mad Max (Tom Hardy), the antihero of the series, is captured and turned into a human blood bank. When "Imperator Furiosa" (Charlize Theron) is sent out in her war rig on a mission to retrieve gasoline, Immortan Joe soon realizes that she is attempting to escape, along with his five wives (called "breeders"), one of whom is pregnant. The rest of the movie is the most epic, violent, and stylized car chase in film history.

So why would I take my kids to see such a savage spectacle?

It's simple really. One of the most grievous errors of our time is that many people (especially leaders, educators, and the media) thoroughly misunderstand human nature. The prevailing view is this: Human beings are basically good and only want comfortable lives. Cruelty and selfishness arise when people are prevented from living comfortable lives. Hence, by combatting poverty and oppression, we can eventually achieve a utopia.

This is the silly perspective behind the U.S. government's insistence that we can defeat jihad by giving jobs to terrorists.

The writers of dystopic films tend to have a better grasp of human nature, and George Miller (who wrote all four of the Mad Max films) has a unique ability to peer directly into the human soul. He is somehow able to visualize what the world would be like if the current grounds of ethics and civilized behavior were to break down. The result? "The future belongs to the mad."

We live in a world that has been heavily influenced by Christianity. Even those who reject Christian doctrine have been affected by Christian teachings (e.g., "Love your neighbor as yourself," "Do unto others as you would have them them do unto you," etc.). Many atheists, thoroughly unaware of how Christianity has shaped their convictions, are convinced that their own cherished values will endure even if Christianity were completely forgotten. But the world doesn't work like that. Values may take longer to subside than beliefs, but if those values are based upon the beliefs, they cannot endure without them. Gravity has no pity on a building that has lost its foundation.

Watching a Mad Max film is like reading about certain pre-Christian societies (e.g., the Canaanites or Ammonites) and adding in modern vehicles and weapons. Sure, it's a bloody mess. But if we want our kids to understand what fallen human nature looks like, there's no better way to show them.

12 comments:

  1. But also you really wanted to see the movie ;)

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  2. Absolutely! (One of the best movies I've ever seen.)

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    1. Really, one of the best huh? I was going to pass on it just to annoy my brother, he loved the movie and swore I needed to see it so I refused on principle.... I mean I can't have us agreeing on something man....we could possibly disrupt the space time continuum... It would be like crossing the streams! Try to imagine all life as you know it stopping instantaneously and every molecule in your body exploding at the speed of light.... fire and brimstone coming down from the skies! Rivers and seas boiling! Forty years of darkness! Earthquakes, volcanoes! Human sacrifice! Dogs and cats, living together! Mass hysteria!

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    2. It's one of my favorites too! And it's partly a commentary on true religion, pitting the extremist death-cult fanaticism in Immortan Joe and followers (a not-so-subtle jab at Islam) against a genuine concern for others manifested in Furiosa, Max and eventually Nux. This might sound crazy at first but the film actually presents Max as type of Christ, depicting him as a universal donor whose character traits are passed via his blood, which he just so happens to give to Nux from a cross affixed to his car. Through this connection, Nux is transformed into a sacrificial character, leading to his own martyrdom (witness) by the film's end. Here, he gives his life not for glory or fame, as he previously sought, but for love of others. What do you think? Here's a video I did on the symbolism in the film https://youtu.be/iaaOktcdkHw

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  3. George Miller is a former med student. He also did his residency at St. Vincent's Hospital which regularly receives patients from Kings Cross--the local red light district. I wouldn't be surprised if Miller's "unique ability to peer directly into the human soul" is a result his medical training.

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  4. Excellent movie! Though I guess you have to be a sci-fi nut to really like it. I think I am forced to share your perspective (and George Miller's?) on human nature. Which is probably why I find dystopic themes to be so intriguing and impossible to ignore.

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  5. The movie can only appeal to people's lesser selves. I saw it and thought it very predictable. A great perpetual orgasm of intense action, cheaply stitched together with roles requiring little acting , if any.

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  6. Everyone in my family has seen it and I'm going this week. Back in the day, when the first Mad Max films were out they were pretty weird, and not necessarily in a good way. The narrative was gimpy but it sounds like George has fine tuned this one.

    George Miller is pretty cool. He also directed "Happy Feet", "Lorenzo's Oil" and "Babe", so as well as seeing the seedy side of life, he's got a feel for redemption as well.

    It didn't get shot in Australia because there was a freak downpour in the outback when they were shooting, but there are still plenty of Aussies in this Australian film.

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  7. "Gravity has no pity on a building that has lost its foundation"....I wasn't sure if I wanted to congratulate you on this line or just steal it, but as plagiarism is a crime...congratulations on this powerful imagery!

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  8. I think it´s not part of a good education to feed children´s minds with images of violence. Real anarchy isn´t so spectacular and sexy. You may prezent good ideas to your kids in better way...

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    1. Honestly, a movie like this I personally would not take a kid to go see. I really think only people 17 and up should watch a film like this. However, I am not sure how you get "spectacular and sexy" out of this movie because in my opinion it took pains to present anarchy as being inherently otherwise by default.

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  9. I did to. And in fact the film makes allusion Islam and Christianity, setting up a contrast between the example of Christ and the actions of Islam in there respective use of violence and their treatment of women. If you have the time, let me know what you think. https://youtu.be/iaaOktcdkHw

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