Favorite Cult Classics: Mad Max

The original Mad Max holds such a special place in my heart. I have fond memories of being a kid and watching this movie with my family. Of enjoying the transformation of honorable cop to revenge fueled bad ass. However, being a child, I didn’t fully appreciate the nuances of the movie until much later. Especially when I got to see a screening of the movie at none other than FilmBar in Phoenix. Being able to take in this film on the big screen as it was originally intended was incredible. Not to mention, craziness aside, I had developed a bit of a crush on young Mel Gibson.

Max enjoyed his duties as an officer of the Main Force Patrol, the last line of defense from the impending apocalypse and the people that would like to take advantage of the situation. When a gang arrives to seek vengeance for the death of the Night Rider, and murders Max’s best friend in the process, he decides that he would rather be with his family and quits the force. While driving around the countryside, Max’s wife and child encounter trouble with the very same bikers but she manages to escape them. The bikers, enraged that she got away, hunt her and her child down and murder them in cold blood. Fueled by anger and blood lust, Max begins his journey of revenge.

As I’ve stated in previous reviews, I am a sucker for a great love story and I believe that Mad Max essentially boils down to that. A tragic love story, but a love story nonetheless.  He loved his job, but he loved his wife and child even more. So much so that he retired to spend all his time with them. There are a number of moments in this film where it is just Max and his wife discussing the depth of their feelings for one another. I believe anyone is capable of going mad after losing someone that you care so much about. It just so happened that Max had the skill set to do something about it.

This movie is really an example of the perfect cult classic to me. It’s got a healthy mix of heartwarming moments, action, silliness and outright outrageous moments. I love the cinematography and the symphonic background. The acting is cheesy but all it does is contribute to what makes Mad Max so great. Some scenes are a bit tough to watch, even to this day, but they were necessary for the course of the film. The murder of Max’s family is what triggers the madness in the first place.

It’s interesting to see what endures throughout the years and it excites me that Mad Max is one of those things. Part of what made Fury Road so successful, in my opinion, is that they kept to the original formula of the Mad Max movies but started to shift the focus away from him. They did not try to start over and mess with the original story line, instead, they imagined a completely new installment to the series. I wish that more remakes would follow in that line of thinking to be quite honest.

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