Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome
|Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome|
Original theatrical release poster by Richard Amsel
|Directed by||George Miller
|Produced by||Terry Hayes
|Written by||Terry Hayes
|Music by||Maurice Jarre|
|Edited by||Richard Francis-Bruce|
|Kennedy Miller Productions|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|Running time||107 minutes|
Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome is a 1985 Australian post-apocalyptic film directed by George Miller and George Ogilvie, written by Miller and Terry Hayes and starring Mel Gibson and Tina Turner. It is the third installment in the action movie Mad Max series, its story taking place 15 years after that of the previous film (20 years after the original film). The original music score was composed by Maurice Jarre. A fourth movie in the Mad Max series, remained in development for over two decades, before Mad Max: Fury Road was finally greenlit and commenced production in 2012. It is scheduled for release on May 15, 2015.
Twenty years have passed since Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson) avenged his family, and 15 since he defeated Humungus. While riding a camel-drawn wagon across the Australian desert, Max is attacked by Jedediah (Bruce Spence), a pilot flying a Transavia PL-12 Airtruk, who steals his belongings and vehicle. Max continues on foot and stumbles upon the only nearby human outpost in the wasteland — the seedy community of Bartertown, founded and run by the ruthless Aunty Entity (Tina Turner).
In Bartertown, electricity, vehicles, and functioning technology depend on a crude methane refinery fueled by pig feces. The refinery is located in the Underworld area beneath Bartertown and is operated by the diminutive Master, who is carried around by his enormously strong bodyguard, Blaster. "Master Blaster" holds an uneasy truce with Aunty for control of Bartertown. Master, however, is beginning to exploit his position with energy "embargoes," challenging Aunty's leadership. She is furious with him but cannot challenge him publicly, as Master is the only one with the technical know-how to operate the refinery. The controlled chaos of Bartertown is maintained by a set of inflexible laws, including one that states that no contract can be broken for any reason.
Upon entering Bartertown, Max meets the Collector, who recommends his talents to Aunty Entity. After being tested in a difficult audition, Aunty recognises Max as a resourceful fighter and strikes a deal with him to provoke a confrontation with Blaster in the Thunderdome, a gladiatorial arena where conflicts are resolved by a duel to the death. Max enters Underworld in order to get a look at Master Blaster; here he also befriends Pig Killer, a laborer convicted of slaughtering a pig to feed his family. While there, Max discovers that Blaster is exceptionally strong but extremely sensitive to high-pitched noises. Max finds his stolen vehicle in Master Blaster's possession and, in an effort to size up Blaster's fighting strengths, confronts them both, resulting in the necessary challenge to enter Thunderdome.
The rules of Thunderdome, as chanted by onlookers crowding the arena, are simple: "Two men enter, one man leaves." After a difficult match with various weapons, Max defeats Blaster with the aid of a high-pitched whistle, but he refuses to kill him upon discovering that Blaster has a developmental disability and the functional mentality of a child. An enraged Aunty has Blaster executed and invokes the law against Max since he broke his agreement with her: "Bust a deal, face the Wheel." The Wheel is divided into sections marked with outcomes that range from acquittal to death; when spun for Max, it stops on "Gulag," meaning exile to the desert wasteland. He is placed on a horse and sent out of Bartertown, riding until the animal collapses and dies from exhaustion.
Some time later, Max - now near death from exposure - is saved by a group of children led by Savannah Nix. The children, hardened to the desert environment, are descendants of the survivors of a nearby crashed Qantas Boeing 747; they have formed a tribe in a sheltered oasis. Clinging to the hope of rescue, they keep their memories of the past civilization alive in the form of spoken "tells," including the return of the messianic "Captain Walker" who will repair the aircraft and return them to civilization. The "tell" explains that Flight Captain G.L. Walker at one point took the adults to seek help, promising they would be back to rescue the rest, but never returned. One of the kids is seen with a "sonic," a record attached to a stick. Max looks so much like Walker, the children believe that he has indeed returned to take them to "Tomorrow-morrow Land." After nursing him back to health, they are shocked that Max insists that they remain in the relative safety of the oasis, knowing that the only "civilization" within reach is Bartertown. Some of the children decide to leave anyway, determined to find "Tomorrow-morrow Land," so Max goes after them.
Max catches up with them at the outskirts of Bartertown. They sneak in, intent on finding Master. Without Blaster to protect him, Master is little more than Aunty's slave. Max and the children free him with Pig Killer's help, but the guards are alerted and give chase, resulting in a series of explosions in the methane refinery. Reaching Jedediah's hideout, the children find out that the "sonic" is just an old French learning record. Max coerces Jedediah to help them escape in his plane, but there is too much weight and not enough runway between them and the attackers' vehicles. Max steals a supercharged, still functional Ford F-150 and drives it in front of the plane, smashing through Aunty's approaching forces and allowing the plane to take off, also shutting down Bartertown. Aunty finds Max, but spares his life out of respect for his abilities and departs.
Years later, the children have established a small campsite far away from the oasis, and are now living in a run-down building in the ruins of a long destroyed Sydney, lit up by hundreds of fires and lights. Savannah, the leader of the children, recites a nightly "tell" of their journey and the man who saved them, as Max, still alive in the desert, departs to places unknown.
- Mel Gibson as "Mad" Max Rockatansky, a former MFP officer and lone warrior, Max roves the desert aimlessly, his existence entirely based around self-survival.
- Tina Turner as Aunty Entity, the ruthless, determined ruler of Bartertown. Entity is a glamorous, Amazon-like figure who recognises a strength of character in Max, and hopes to exploit him in order to gain sole control of Bartertown from Master. Despite her brutality and Bartertown's chaos, Entity is an intelligent, cultured woman, who holds a hope of one day rebuilding society to its former glory.
- Bruce Spence as Jedediah the Pilot.
- Adam Cockburn as Jedediah Jr., Jedediah's son, who often helps his father steal supplies, flying his dad's plane whilst Jedediah procures the goods.
- Frank Thring as The Collector, head of Bartertown's trade and exchange network.
- Angelo Rossitto as Master, a diminutive former engineer, who parlays his technical expertise into building the methane extractor responsible for Bartertown's electricity. When the film begins, Master has grown power-crazed under the protection of Blaster, and frequently humiliates Entity into acknowledging his power. When Blaster is killed, however, Master becomes a far more subdued, humble character, and eventually escapes with the help of Pig Killer and the children.
- Paul Larsson as Blaster, Master's silent, mentally-impaired bodyguard.
- Angry Anderson as Ironbar Bassey, head of Bartertown's security and Aunty Entity's Number One Henchman. Despite his short height he is a fierce warrior figure, wearing a doll's head standard on his back, who comes to dislike Max more and more as the film proceeds. He is eventually killed in the film's climatic chase sequence.
- Robert Grubb as Pig Killer, a convict in Bartertown sentenced to work in the methane refinery, shovelling pig feces. He befriends Max, and when Max and the children return to rescue Master, Pig Killer escapes to help them.
- Helen Buday as Savannah Nix, leader of a tribe of child survivors (or the children of those survivors) from a crashed 747. Savannah is the one who ensures the tribe remembers its past through the "tells," and acts as a surrogate mother figure to many of them. She is also the partner of Slake.
- Tom Jennings as Slake M'Thirst, the male leader of the child tribe.
- Edwin Hodgeman as Dr. Dealgood, the flamboyant Master of Ceremonies and chief auctioneer of Bartertown.
The film was the first Mad Max movie made without producer Byron Kennedy who was killed in a helicopter crash in 1983. There is a title card at the end that says, "...For Byron".
The film was a popular success, although it performed less well in Australia than Mad Max 2.
Critical reaction to the film was generally positive, it holds an 81% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, although reviewers were mixed regarding whether they considered the film the highest or lowest point of the Mad Max trilogy. Most of the criticism was focused on the children in the second half of the film, which many felt was too reminiscent of the Lost Boys from Peter Pan. On the other hand, critics praised the Thunderdome scene in particular; film critic Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times called the Thunderdome "the first really original movie idea about how to stage a fight since we got the first karate movies" and praised the fight between Max and Blaster as "one of the great creative action scenes in the movies." He awarded the film 4 stars out of 4 and later placed the film on his list of the 10 best pictures of 1985.
American Film Institute Lists
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs:
- We Don't Need Another Hero (Thunderdome) – Nominated
- AFI's 10 Top 10 – Nominated Science Fiction Film
Capitol Records originally released the soundtrack album in 1985. It included the movie's theme song, Tina Turner's "We Don't Need Another Hero (Thunderdome)", which reached #1 in Canada, #2 in the U.S. and #3 in the British single charts; it plays over the end credits. Tina's "One Of The Living", which plays over the opening credits, was rerecorded for single release, and reached #15 in both Canada and the U.S., but only #55 in Britain. A double CD containing only Maurice Jarre's original music was issued in 2010 on Tadlow Music/Silva Screen Records.
In popular culture
Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome grossed $4,272,802 at the box office in Australia.
- "Box Office Information for Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
- Total Film
- David Stratton, The Avocado Plantation: Boom and Bust in the Australian Film Industry, Pan MacMillan, 1990 p85-87
- "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
- Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome – Movie Reviews, Trailers, Pictures – Rotten Tomatoes
- "Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome". Chicago Sun-Times.
- Ebert's 10 Best Lists: 1967-present via the Internet Archive. Chicago Sun-Times. Retrieved May 11, 2013.
- AFI's 100 Years...100 Songs Nominees
- AFI's 10 Top 10 Ballot
- Film Victoria – Australian Films at the Australian Box Office
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- Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome at the Internet Movie Database
- Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome at the TCM Movie Database
- Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome at AllMovie