The Center Does Not Hold

I love all the Mad Max movies, even that redheaded stepchild Beyond Thunderdome, but the one I find most disturbing, even more so than Fury Road, is the original.

All the other movies take place in a de facto post-apocalyptic landscape. The world exists the way it is. There’s no changing that, no avoiding destruction. But in the original Mad Max, our world is just now disintegrating. Islands of civilization remain even as the deserts of chaos grow around them.

Even though a corrupt court system eventually turns the criminals loose, the havoc they wreck happens outside the city limits. Even the disastrous attack on Max’s family happens out in the country.

Director George Miller is necessarily obtuse about how the landscape is laid out – this isn’t one of those books with a map on the inside flap. All you know is there are civilized places and they are surrounded by uncivilized territories.

The creepiest thing about that original movie is the attack on the small town by Toe Cutter’s crew. You get the feeling this was a safe place maybe even just a few weeks ago.

And that’s the truly disturbing part of Mad Max. That feeling of everything you love about the world slipping away as the animals close in from the edges.

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