Release year: 1979
Director: George Miller
Screenwriter: James McCausland, George Miller
Starring: Mel Gibson, Joanne Samuel, Hugh Keays-Byrne, Steve Bisley, Tim Burns, Roger Ward, Lisa Aldenhoven, David Bracks
Moviegeek Sunday Classic #127, week 46 2016
In a dystopian Australia, highway patrol man Max (Mel Gibson) gets in a live changing feud with a violent motorcycle gang.
George Miller’s action packed cult classic introduced the world to two things: Australian cinema and Mel Gibson. With just one feature film under his belt, Gibson (Braveheart, 1995) impressed at the audition and landed the part of the vengeful Mad Max, a part he played so well, that the character became a beloved one and spawned two sequels (not counting Mad Max: Fury Road from 2015, as it saw Tom Hardy in that part). People who have grown up with the 1980s sequels may consider the franchise an octan-fuelled action feast of with high hair and forget that this, the first, is in fact a well-written indie film, made for so few money that it still holds the record as the most profitable movie of it’s time. Off course, there is action in the movie, but it also holds a gentle tale of family and friends and has a slow build up to the climatic ending. Gibson shows gives a powerful performance that seems almost impossible for as unexpected actor as he was at the time and clearly shows the star he became, making everyone else in the movie pale in comparison. Gibson IS Mad Max and this is HIS film. All of the cast is unknowns and part of the biker gang is even members of actual Australian outlaw motorcycle clubs and rode their own motorcycles in the film, but known of that shows in the quality of the acting, which adds to the conviction of the story. There are moments where the cost of the movie is shown in the action sequences, but mostly it is impressive how much Miller managed to get out of so little and whatever fault there may be, only increases the charm of it all. It is a fine early example of a post-apocalyptic movie and a must-see for every action fan there is.
Shot in 12 weeks on a budget of $350,000
Hugh Keays-Byrne who plays Toecutter also appears in the 2015 Mad Max: Fury Road as Immortan Joe.
When the movie was first released in the States the Australian voices were overdubbed by American actors.
Picture copyrights: Warner Home Video