Art & Design

   

Melbourne Classics: Mad Max

Posted by Jenn Winterbine

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George Miller’s Mad Max (1979) is one of the great Ozploitation flicks of its time. Renamed The Road Warrior upon its US release, this low budget action film has endured as a cult classic among film buffs and critics alike.

Set in a post-apocalyptic world, two macho highway patrol officers play regular games of cat-and-mouse with rebel motorists. Things turn ugly when escaped criminal The Nightrider (Vincent Gil) is killed by officer Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson) during a car chase. His biker mates, led by The Toecutter (Hugh Keays-Byrne), soon hear of the incident and seek revenge.

The charm of Mad Max comes from the fact that it is, for lack of a better term, a bit shit. The grandiose stunts indulge those fascinated with cars and explosions while the fight scenes are so overdone you can’t help but laugh. Despite these shortcomings, no doubt due to a shoestring budget, Miller makes them work in the film’s favour by embracing them in a way that is intelligent and self-aware.

Mad Max was filmed all around Melbourne. Most of the rural scenes were filmed in the town of Little River and along Old Melbourne Road while the urban scenes were shot in suburbs such as Craigieburn, Spotswood and Laverton North. Other notable locations include St George’s Hospital in Kew, South Yarra’s Warehouse nightclub and the southern car park at Melbourne University. All of these landmarks have been immortalised in the film.

From start to finish, Mad Max exudes the quirky stylisation of B-Grade exploitation movies. While its burning rubber, shiny V8s and purring Harley Davidsons are sure to please petrol-heads, Mad Max is a classic piece of Australian cinema for its dystopian depiction of Melbourne and its outskirts.


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