HE RULES THE ROADS.
In a future Australia where an energy crisis has begun to erode society, a cop (Mel Gibson) clashes with a brutal motorcycle gang. One of the most successful films of the late-70s Australian New Wave is dystopian action that divided the critics because of its violence and B-movie tropes, but has become a classic. George Miller uses the red and desolate landscape for breakneck chases involving all kinds of souped-up vehicles; along with Gibson’s breakthrough performance it is the best part of the film. The script has a familiar revenge story and a bizarrely hissing and cackling gang of thugs as villains. Unfortunately, the annoying music score sounds like it belongs in a 1940s melodrama.
1979-Australia. 93 min. Color. Widescreen. Produced by Byron Kennedy. Directed by George Miller. Screenplay: George Miller, James McCausland. Cinematography: David Eggby. Music: Brian May. Cast: Mel Gibson (Max Rockatansky), Joanne Samuel (Jessie Rockatansky), Hugh Keays-Byrne (The Toecutter), Steve Bisley, Tim Burns, Roger Ward.
Trivia: Followed by three sequels, starting with Mad Max 2 (1981).
Last word: “With the first ‘Mad Max’ (1979) I basically wanted to make a silent movie. With sound. The kind of movie that Hitchcock would say, ‘They didn’t have to read the subtitles in Japan’. A film that basically played like a silent movie and … because for me, once I got interested in cinema as moving pictures, I went back to the silent era. And I was particularly struck by the films of Buster Keaton and Harold Lloyd and those – and those kind of very kinetic action montage movies that they made. And they were the … I think they were the true masters in that era. And basically I saw the action movie, particularly the car action movie, as an extension of that. ” (Miller, Australian Screen)