‘Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga’: Fast, furious, and feminist!
Anya Taylor-Joy stars as Furiosa

Veteran Australian director George Miller is on the road again! The self-declared feminist director’s new movie Furiosa, the latest installment of his Mad Max saga, is clearly women-driven.

Miller has always marched to the beat of a different drum. He distinguished himself from others among the 1970s stunning new wave of post-apocalyptic science fiction filmmakers. James Cameron’s iconic Terminator series retold the classic damsel in distress tales. Ridley Scott’s Blade Runner was a brilliant portentous reimagined future which still continued science fiction’s age-old marginalizing of women. Harlan Ellison’s popular A Boy and His Dog was openly misogynistic.

But Miller actually saw a future with women at the center, the drivers of plot and setters of tone even as they became key action figures. They emerge as the heroes, the very hope for survival and upgrade into a better new world.

Anya Taylor-Joy and Alyla Browne are that center. Browne plays young Furiosa, a spirited survivor of the horrific massacre of her family and her own kidnapping by Dementus (Chris Hemsworth), one of nuclear wasteland Australia’s powerful warlords. As Dementus’s forcibly adopted daughter, she is protected from his vile biker gang until she matures.

Furiosa, the 2:28 prequel to Fury Road, is the origin story of the heroine’s fight for a better life and a vengeance that might even satisfy Donald Trump. The grown Furiosa (Anya Taylor-Joy) disguises herself, passing as a young man who helps construct “the war rig,” a monster truck that helps transport precious gas and supplies. Furiosa allies with commander Praetorian Jack using the war rig to battle Dementus’s biker gang.

Amidst the mayhem and carnage that scatter bodies and metal (gears and guts) over the wasteland’s roads, Furiosa stands as counterpoint to Dementus. She represents family, camaraderie, and the possibility of love. Although she carries more than her share of the action, she ultimately chooses nourishment and rebirth.

Director Miller has generously tried to push off credit for his feminist political views. He credits his co-conspirators in film-making, whom he includes in an interactive process. He leaned on famed feminist Eve Ensler to give a workshop to his actors to get a “perspective on violence against women, particularly in war zones.” He unabashedly celebrates borrowing ideas from his editor, partner, and wife Margaret Sixel to make sure his cameras record women’s views in the narrative, especially the film’s treatment of violence.

Miller says he didn’t want his content to look like every other action film. “I’ve gone from being very male-dominant to being surrounded by magnificent women. I can’t help but be a feminist.”

Of course, it is important whether Furiosa triumphs over Dementus. But whether she does or not, Miller has already given us a different kind of post-apocalyptic epic. And with that gift, he has changed the tone by switching the drivers. One could almost say that Road Warrior saga writer, producer and director George Miller is reinventing the wheel.

Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga is now playing at motion picture theaters. The trailer can be viewed here.

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Michael Berkowitz
Michael Berkowitz

Michael Berkowitz, a veteran of the civil rights and anti-war movements, has been Land Use Planning Consultant to the government of China for many years. He taught Chinese and American History at the college level, worked with Eastern Kentucky Welfare Rights Org. with miners, and was an officer of SEIU.