Regardless of who wins tonight’s 2016 Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Director, there’s no question in my mind that George Miller and his comeback epic for the ages, Mad Max: Fury Road, deserves the honors. On every level — action, allegory, and emotion — the Aussie filmmaker delivered perhaps his greatest post-apocalyptic science-fiction thriller yet, while reminding everyone that the digital trickery of twenty-first century cinema has nothing on old-school craftsmanship and ingenuity. I caught up with Miller at this month’s 31st Santa Barbara International Film Festival, where he received the Outstanding Director Award, and spoke with me about Mad Max: Fury Road‘s creation, its Oscar nominations, and its potential sequel…
Nerdist: Few science fiction films have been nominated for as many Oscars as Mad Max: Fury Road. How does it feel to receive this validation for not only your work but the entire genre?
George Miller: Unexpected. Because, as you said, it’s atypical. So it is a really nice thing. But I never expected that to be the case.
N: The Mad Max films have always been steeped in myth. What influenced this one?
GM: Well, it’s very interesting. Because the first notion was to do an extended chase. And the thing that was to be chased, the people who were in conflict, were to be human. In this case, the five wives, or “breeders,” escaping the tyrannical aging warlord. Which is a story told in many, many cultures, interestingly enough. But that was the idea. And to see how much story we could pick up on the run — the characters, the relationship of the characters, the backstory, and the world. That was the first idea… I guess, the big, big thing about these films, and what’s so seductive about them, is they are allegorical, and you can get into the stories with all your responses to the world…
N: Religious, political…
GM: All of them. It’s all there. It’s almost a contained world, because it’s much more elemental, and it’s sort of forward to the past. Even though it’s a post-apocalyptic future, you can go back almost to medieval times, or even earlier. That’s very interesting. Because there are themes in our history that we repeat over and over again — dominance, hierarchies, gender politics, the way that religion is used to coerce young warriors. It’s in all sorts of cultures. And in a way we have the modern incarnations of those as well. It’s really interesting to actually work in a world where you can do that. What’s really satisfying for me is the extent that people have picked up.
N: It’s been said that we might see a prequel to the film with Furiosa or a sequel with Max. Is that still a possibility?
GM: We’re talking. I’ve got two other stories. But they won’t be next. I just want to do something small and quick before I go back to the wasteland. That’s all I can say. [Laughs.]
Images: Warner Bros.
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