Viking Night: Mad Max
By Bruce Hall
August 2, 2011
Somewhere out there on the open road is a wild eyed maniac. He’s behind the wheel of a battle tested hot rod, armed to the teeth and dressed like he’s on his way to the end of the world. He’s not evil; just a good guy who’s seen too many bad things. His black withered heart is filled with anger, bitterness and complete contempt for authority. He's a danger to himself and others, but there’s no real reason to fear him unless you’re in his way. He is death on wheels; vengeance incarnate. Heaven and earth, life and death - they all mean nothing to him. His name of course, is Quentin. He’s been a friend of mine for a long time, and he knows I write for this website. So, the other day I got a random text message from him:
“I am the Nightrider! I am the chosen one. The mighty hand of vengeance, sent down to strike the unroadworthy!”
Coming from anyone else I’d have been a little worried, and I might even have called the state police. But this is actually one of the least bizarre messages I’ve ever received from Quentin, and moments later he followed up with:
“Come on, what movie?”
Are you kidding me? I know that quote. It’s from a film I hadn’t seen in a long time, but one more than worthy of inclusion into the annals of Viking Night and long overdue for it. It is a legendary, groundbreaking harbinger of the post-apocalyptic genre. And it was the first starring role for a then unknown actor named Mel Gibson. Sadly, Gibson would quickly fade into obscurity and never accomplish anything or make any significant headway of any kind into movies ever again. But at least his work lives on. Mad Max and the franchise it spawned would go on to become a cultural phenomenon and would itself influence countless other films. Its importance to cinema really cannot be overstated. I can’t exactly say the same for Quentin. But if you’re out there my friend, whatever you’re doing, and whoever you’re doing it to - thanks for the idea.
In the beginning at least, Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson) was not quite the man I just described. He was a family man with a large automobile, a beautiful house, a beautiful wife (Joanne Samuel) and a cute, chubby little kid. And she was not just a beautiful wife; she was a wife so witty, so clever, so creative and charming that the only place she could possibly exist is in a movie. And the kid was really just a plot contrivance, there for the occasional gratuitous “cute baby shot”. The three of them live just a stone’s throw from the beach somewhere on the coast of Australia. They sleep late on the weekends and eat lots of peanut butter and honey. They’re young, fit and free of any obvious physical defects. It’s a pretty good life, and with that much to live for you wouldn’t think a guy like Max would be as insanely reckless as he is.