March 16, 2022

Review: Blood, Sweat & Chrome: The Wild and True Story of Mad Max: Fury Road

Blood, Sweat & Chrome: The Wild and True Story of Mad Max: Fury Road Blood, Sweat & Chrome: The Wild and True Story of Mad Max: Fury Road by Kyle Buchanan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Like so many other people, I gushed over Mad Max: Fury Road when it came out. I'd read a bit about how difficult the shoot was, and how long (twenty years) it took this film to get to the theaters. This book tells that whole incredible story: an oral history of all the nitty-gritty details of the shoot, the planning, the vehicles, the awe-inspiring practical stunts, the tension and stress of filming nine months in the Namibia desert, the clashes between cast members, and finally, the triumph of winning six Academy Awards, including a well-deserved Best Editing Oscar for Margaret Sixel.

I've tried to read oral-history type narratives before, and I find it's hard for them to hold my interest. Not so here. Maybe it's because the real-life story had so many obstacles to overcome and so many unexpected twists and turns, but this book had me engaged from beginning to end. It's just a damned miracle it made it to the big screen at all, never mind being as good as it turned out to be.

Of course, there are some revelations that did not make me think kindly of Tom Hardy, and the way his bad behavior on set was enabled (not so much by director George Miller as his producing partner Doug Mitchell). Nowadays, Hardy would probably be fired for some of the shit he pulled. If he had been, I don't know if it would have mattered that much...because the bottom line, while it's his name on screen, it's not Max's story. It's Furiosa's and the Wives. And that, I think, made all the difference.

(Also, in my original review I groused about them "not going all the way and calling Furiosa's tribe the Vulvalini." Well, this book revealed that they did in fact do that...and the studio execs had an attack of the vapors and insisted the name be changed to the Vuvalini. Fucking cowards.)

In the current age of superhero flicks awash in CGI, there's not much room for a more old-fashioned film like this, filled with incredible stunts and practical effects. It was an accomplishment for the ages, and we probably won't see many films like it again.

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