Get ready for the fall of men’s civilization and the birth of a new one by females.
I know what you are going to say. You’ve all read about the “feminist subtext” papers rave about concerning “Mad Max: Fury Road”. I’ve read about it as well, but never actually read through any of it, because I wanted to witness the movie myself without any preconceptions. After watching the film, all I can say is: you may call it “feminist” or not, fact of the matter is ‘Mad Max’ is the story of the end of all known civilization - built by men - and the rush to create a new one - by women.
“So, what do you think?” I asked my wife about the first trailer of Mad Max. “Nah, it’s your type of movie, not mine.” she said, pointing out all the wild action she is not too fond of. Little did she know then that it was ‘her’ movie as well - at least as much as ‘mine’.
We start with lone Max Rockatansky drinking his own piss on the edge of a world in decay, existing aimlessly, lonely, haunted by the past, not thinking about the future, he just is. The only reason he stays alive is that the outside world gives him importance. Someone is chasing him. Not for any particular reason, but to harvest his body, his hair, his blood, his belongings. In a world that fell into an endless pit of loss, a world that cannibalizes itself, he becomes a natural resource, Mother Nature himself. The longer he stays alive and free, the longer he beats the world coming to an end. At least that’s what he thinks unconsciously. He is ultimately captured by some footsoldiers and suddenly the world looks even darker than before.
We are then introduced to Immortan Joe, who is - on one hand - an archetypal villain, but is a true visionary in the sense that he realized where the world is heading, how to survive in the grave disaster, but he couldn’t beat men’s ultimate fallibility: the urge to possess. He locks away the remains of the past - books, culture, you name it - in a vault as well as the key to the future: spotless fertility in the shape of virgins and the largest resource of water known to mankind. He believes that if he can control all of these single-handedly, he will be able to rule the whole world and survive, and thus leave an - ever-shrinking - empire to his successors. Men’s thinking for sure.
In Immortan Joe’s world, “V8” is the one true god. It is due to cars people (or rather: men) can still survive in the short term, acting as predators. and it is the ultimate expression of men valuling things - possessions - in their lives. By “V8” they can still act as and be men.
Joe’s vision is all blown up when Furiosa - apparently a high-rank champion footsoldier of his - frees said virgins, his key to the future. Furiosa is not too much different from Max - apart from being a woman - except she still has a dream, a vision to fight for: to get back to the green pastures she was taken from as a child - reconnecting with home.
In pursuit of Furiosa, one soldier, Nux - feeding from Max’s blood - is seeking a new career opportunity, a promotion. He’s young, ambitious, he wants to serve the system as hard as he can, because he believes in Immortan Joe. By the way: he takes Max with him to the pursuit, as the blood transfusion wasn’t complete, otherwise Max wouldn’t be involved in the conflict by his own will.
Cutting to the chase (get it?) we learn a few things about Max, Furiosa, Immortan Joe and Nux. First of all, the title hero is outgunned by Furiosa. She’s more agile, quicker to think, more cunning, physically on par with Max and is driven by passion. Max - on the other hand - is just going with the flow, trying to take his own way out of this world, but Furiosa outwits him and - in a way - forces him to help her achieving her dream - “cherchez la femme” one could say. Nux finally gets as close to his personal god, Immortan Joe as possible for anyone in his tribe. He is given the highest blessing imaginable, but it all sails away in an instant when he - quite literally - slips. He falls out of grace immediately and becomes an outcast, whereas five seconds before he was ready to die for his idol. Talk about chasing false idols or trying to get a promotion by gaining your superior’s personal preference.
Nux then joins Max, Furiosa and the virgins to escape to Furiousa’s utopia, only to learn that that world does no longer exist. It being fallen to decay as the rest of the world, Furiosa now joins Max as yet another hopeless lone wanderer.
We are reaching a pivotal point in the story of the film: the heroes (and the remains of Furiosa’s old tribe) contemplate where next. They vote for heading to the endless, unknown desert, hoping they would find some life there. Max catches up with them and suggests returning to Immortan Joe’s world where there are still enough natural resources for all of them. This is one of the most important scenes, because that’s where the traditional male/female roles are reversed most drastically. The women choose to head for the unknown, chasing yet another dream, while Max is a lot more pragmatic. He’s basically saying “stay home, fight for it, will be helluva hard, but at least we know what’s there”. Joe’s world has its own limits, eventually it will run out of natural resources as well, so it is ultimately sacrificing one’s dreams about heaven for another day in the world.
Max manages to convince everyone that it is a good idea and they head back to where they came from. Nux sacrifices himself in pursuit while locking out Joe’s soldiers from their own land. The way Joe robbed him from his world, he was going to rob everybody else from it, too. Joe is ultimately killed by Furiosa, but is seriously wounded and Max performs the last and only thing he can still add to the future: saves Furiosa’s life, culminated from the medical knowledge men managed to add up. Furiosa becomes the new ruler of the land: a more democratic, a more just one and with her possibly returning to her passionate self to create a new world she always wanted to live in.
The end of men’s dominance on the remains of the world they created have come to an end. Now, it’s time for women to build up a new one. And with this realization, Max walks off, handing over the keys to the remains of his old world.
Ultimately, I said to my wife: “First, you’re not going to like the movie, because the thought of such gruelling world would make you uncomfortable, but the more you think about it, it is the inevitable fate both of us are facing as participants of our society”.
Finally, here’s a video I edited for your pleasure: