14 Mad Max Fury Road — The Final Chase
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“In this Wasteland, I am the one who runs from both the living and the dead. A man reduced to a single instinct: survive.” – Max

For the better part of 15 years, “Mad Max: Fury Road” existed as an idea, and by the time the film wrapped, that idea had metamorphosed into 400 hours of footage. To transform it into a tight 110 minutes of emotion and pure action, Miller put it in the hands of his editor and longtime collaborator Margaret Sixel to, as he says, “engineer the dimensions of time and forge all the pieces into one seamless immersive experience.”

Says Mitchell, who has been there every step of the way, “It was not an easy thing to do, but Margaret stood side-by-side with George, and together they pulled this thing through to the level of quality that it is. She did an extraordinary job, with a great team behind her.”

To render the live footage from Namibia into the Wasteland of his imagination, Miller collaborated with look development and supervising colorist Eric Whipp, and with re-recording mixers Chris Jenkins and Gregg Rudloff to realize the clash and concussion of the Road War. But the dimension of the film’s sound would not be fully explored until Grammy-nominated producer and composer Tom Holkenborg aka Junkie XL entered the fray.

Miller had long been a fan of the experimental music of Junkie XL, but when the filmmaker invited him to collaborate on the score, Junkie XL recognized that his job would be to take it to the next level. “When you’re watching the film, you’re in a world that has gone completely mad, so I knew the music couldn’t be a standard action score,” the composer says. “It needed to be incredibly over the top to fit the imagery, almost as if it were a modern rock
opera.”

He chartered the Wasteland with tempered moments of stillness and heightened levels of psychotic abandon, utilizing nearly 200 instruments to weave a blend of beating drums, sweeping strings and electric guitar-driven operatic themes. “In the moments you leave the super mad world and get back to the humanity of the characters, the music, too, gets stripped down,” he says. “For these scenes, I incorporated woodwinds and used the string section as the driving force. The result is instrumentation that encompasses big, brutal percussion and an 80-voice choir, with string sections and musical sound design, and everything in between.”

For Miller, the final product was a revelation, which he calls “an enormous testament to all the people who put all their wisdom into the work. I’ve watched the film so many thousands of times with Margaret, but I now find myself able to sit back with a degree of pleasure and let it carry me along.”

“Creating an experience for the audience has always been George’s goal, and the reason he has worked so hard to make this film, and I think he’s succeeded,” says Mitchell. “‘Fury Road’ is like nothing I’ve ever seen, and I’m not sure there will ever be anything like it in our lifetimes.”

Hardy attests, “George batted everything into his story with due diligence and care, and he went out there and shot it frame-by-frame for months until he got everything he wanted onto the screen, and it’s awesome. This is the film that so many people have been waiting for, and nobody has been waiting quite as long as George has to make sure it happened.” Miller himself looks back and reflects that all those years and all that mileage were in service to this moment. “A film does not exist without an audience,” he says. “It doesn’t exist on a disc or in a can. It’s in the cinema where we congregate with strangers, and we give ourselves to the screen. It’s a shared experience. And only in that act do we know what we’ve wrought. I hope the audience will make their own connections and that the film will have some meaning for them.”

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