Directed by George Miller and produced on a budget of just an estimated 400,000 Australian dollars, or 350,000 US dollars, Mad Max was the archetypal comic book adventure tale, and the standout movie of its kind in 1979.
Set in a dystopian future, a post-apocalyptic world of lawlessness and anarchy on the highways, Max Rockatansky is a highly respected traffic police officer who was by now beginning to tire of the daily grind of confronting criminals on the roads. His family is later killed by biker gangs in revenge for the death of one of their gang members, the Nightrider. Max then goes in pursuit of their killers in his trademark souped-up V8 Interceptor or Pursuit Special, a menacing 1973 Ford Falcon XB GT Coupe, cue groundbreaking stunts and explosive action setting the movie firmly on the road to cult classic status.
With the emergence of Mad Max, little-known Mel Gibson was propelled into the Hollywood A-List, long before his colossal and self-inflicted fall from grace, when he began making the headlines for all the wrong reasons.
The movie’s success has spawned a number of sequels including Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior (1981), Mad Max Beyond Thunder dome (1985), largely memorable for its powerhouse theme tune, ‘We Don’t Need Another Hero’, courtesy of Tina Turner.
The franchise was resurrected from its long hiatus with the greatly anticipated release of Mad Max: Fury Road in 2015, with a much bigger budget, CGI special-effects, and ever more elaborate stunts. British actor Tom Hardy now assumed the title role, and co-starring Charlize Theron, the film was greeted with mass approval by film-goers becoming one of the highest grossing movies of 2015, and further high-octane Mad Max movies are now to follow.
The voice-overs for an American audience didn’t quite do the first film justice and that version perhaps loses some of its raw authenticity somewhat in the process. This was an Aussie movie through and through, with its sweeping Australian landscapes and tough Aussie villains, and is why the original will always maintain a special place for some fans, the place where it all began.