New reads this month…
PETROLHEAD PARADISE A legion of cinema-goers left multiplexes with their minds blown – here’s how George Miller and co did it…
The Art of Mad Max: Fury Road; The Art of Inside Out; VHS Video Cover Art.
the original Mad Max trilogy was the zenith of postapocalyptic action franchises. Not only has the series’ 21st century rebirth rocked the boat by centring on a feminist narrative that subverts all the prejudices of your average Mel Gibson lover, but jaded action fans have left multiplexes marvelling at the exhilarating world in which they’ve been immersed.
An in-depth print investigation into how George Miller and his team of artists managed to exceed all expectations, bringing such spectacle back to the screen, is therefore particularly worthwhile, at a time when so many films get their own automatic tie-in art book, irrespective of success.
Abbie Bernstein’s approach is comprehensive without ever delving deep into Max’s world from the previous three films. Instead, the author provides an episodic deconstruction of Fury Road, with a compact commentary for each set piece.
In his stirring introduction, George stresses the emphasis on old-school filmmaking with real stuntmen, rusty vehicles, and every grain of filth captured on celluloid. Nonetheless, as the sections in each chapter take us from rough sketch to finished spectacle, Abbie’s narrative shows that good use has been made of the kind of digital technology the director couldn’t have imagined 30 years ago.
As ever, total messianic devotion to the internal combustion engine and the iconography of petrolhead hysteria are central, with guides to the realisation of vehicles that make the mind boggle, even as charcoal or watercolour sketches. The Gigahorse, the War Rig, all those gnarly pursuit vehicles… indeed, any roadster that impressed on the screen crops up, with brief but intriguing exposition.
It seems unlikely that Fury Road will be the final instalment of Mad Max’s story, but in this book, Abbie and the team behind and in front of the camera have documented a unique journey, showing how a defunct movie franchise can be revived not just as a cash cow for the film studio, but a genuine cinematic event.
It’s more of a handbook for fans than an artist’s showcase, and we would have liked fewer press photos and much more of the raw artistry that helped create this dystopia, but cinema-goers still haunted by Fury Road will be well advised to take the journey.
A key frame that sets the scene at the start of Mad Max: Fury Road.
Tattoo and piercing designs for the War Boys, who make up the army that pursues Mad Max in the film.