George Miller, the Australian director who established himself in the world with his masterpiece aka the Mad Max franchise had once abandoned all hope of ever seeing his dreams achieve fruition. The 77-year-old filmmaker had put his faith in something that was as hostile and bleak as his own dystopian creation and with a budget as barren and lacking as the landscape of Fury Road. And yet, Miller succeeded in delivering the greatest sci-fi dystopian action film of all time, a status still reserved for Mad Max and its sequels, to this day.
George Miller’s Loss of Faith On the Sets of Mad Max
The desert landscape of Mad Max that stretches for ominous miles might not be a familiar sight to some, but the film almost has a ubiquitous ring to it. Those who haven’t watched it have surely heard about it due to the extensive literature and films that mention it as a pop culture reference. However, at the time of its conception, the film inflicted limitless disappointment on its director due to the constraints levied on him by a paltry budget of $350,000.
Miller’s film was funded not by production houses, instead, the budget was the total of what he had been sponsored with by his friends and family, and it was conditional on being paid back with interest. The pent-up pressures of expectations coupled with his own impossible ambition took a toll on the director and yet he forged on until the rolls of the film reached the floor of the cutting room.
“The film was a complete disaster to me in terms of what I wanted to do… My partner, Byron Kennedy, and I had raised a pretty meager budget from our closest friends from school. So there was an obligation to get them back their money… We had no money for an editor, so I cut the film myself for a year. And every day for a year I was faced with the evidence of what I hadn’t done, what I’d failed to do. Why did I put the camera there? Why didn’t I ask the actors to go faster?”
The Disappointments in the Aftermath of Miller’s Cult Classic
Mad Max and its sequels, especially the multiple award-winning Mad Max: Fury Road, were groundbreaking in many ways but mostly because Miller had dared to dream. He had claimed that his vision for Mad Max had been “a silent movie with sound” and his equally talented screenwriter, James McCausland found inspiration for the film’s elements from his observations of the effects of the 1973 oil crisis on Australian motorists. Miller, on the other hand, implemented the images of death he witnessed during his residency at a Sydney hospital ER in the production of the film.
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The primal human savagery of the dystopia perhaps struck too close to home and George Miller had later decided that a bleak futuristic setting would make the bitter pill of his film’s plot easier for the audience to swallow. All of it only goes to say how much of the story there was that Miller had felt he abandoned or failed to tell in the end. The broad brushstrokes were all there in Mad Max, but in his vision, the complete picture was lacking. The director faced a similar conundrum during his time on the sets of Fury Road, and despite winning six Academy Awards, the lingering disappointment still remains from the film that started it all.
Source: The Guardian