George Miller’s original ‘Mad Max Fury Road’ myth paints a feminist utopia
The creative process is a wily beast. One day a writer thinks they have their story completely mapped out and then BAM! A stray thought turns into a stray subplot which turns into a research rabbit hole to make it fit with the lore which ends up undoing the structure of the third act entirely and now it has to be rebuilt.
So you would think “Mad Max Fury Road” — with its extended development time — would be nigh unrecognizable from the original idea kernel George Miller started with. You’d think wrong.
It took Miller over a decade to birth “Fury Road.” It was a labor of love chronicled in the book “The Art of Mad Max Fury” by Abbie Bernstein.* Spanning nearly 200 pages, the book walks you through the creative process, starting all the way back in 1997 with the mythology — hand written by George Miller — that would anchor the film. What’s amazing is how little the core story changed during the development process. Somewhere along the way, Immortan Joe lost a wife, Furiosa may not yet have a name, but the her place in the hierarchy of the Citadel is there (and just as gloriously vague as the finished tale).
*Surely one multiverse over, the book was penned by Abbie BernstAin.
Image Credit: Warner Bros.
ONCE UPON A TIME... in a dark and toxic land, there lived a WARLORD.
- The warlord was brutal and cruel, and the people of his kingdom lived in misery, disease and terror. Poverty and slavery were all they knew... But the warlord had a secret: hidden from view, high in the chambers of his castle, were SIX YOUNG PRINCESSES. These girls were his only love.
- Many years ago, the warlord had stolen these girls as babies, and abducted them to his fortress... And there they would remain until they were old enough to bear him healthy children, for all children born by the women within the kingdom were inflicted by plague and sadness. The girls were his last hope.
- The oldest princess was already pregnant with his child, and the warlord knew that the time was near, when, at last he would have a healthy son, and his dynasty would continue...
The warlord trusted no one, except a beautiful and fierce WARRIOR WOMAN, who commanded his army and watched over the six girls.
The Warrior Woman came from another land, another tribe... And like the girls, she had been captured by the warlord but had risen up through the ranks of his army to become his most feared and respected soldier, his most favoured comrade...
- AND SO SHE BETRAYED HIM...
Under cover of a trading convoy, Warrior Woman hid the six girls in her wagon, and began a hazardous journey through the only means of escape from the warlord's kingdom: THE FURY ROAD. The Warrior Woman would return the girls back to their original home... at the other end of the Furiosso.
This place was an eden. A haven of love and freedom... It had been named "GYNOTOPIA" by the tribe of women who had founded it. This too had been Warrior Woman's home. This enlightened place was to be the best future for the girls and their child-to-be. Far away from the terror of the bleak male domain of the warlord, the girls could thrive in this new society.
THE WARLORD’S rage knew no limits. He gathered together the awesome force of his armada and commanded his warrior boys to bring back 'THE SIX' unharmed... And to kill the Warrior Woman. He would lead the armada himself.
- Down in the dark underworld of the warlord's fortress were many slaves. Many of these wretched souls planned their escape from this hell hole... None had survived the brutality of the Fury Road. But for one of these slaves, freedom was all that mattered. Once this slave had been a great warrior, and possessed a pure and noble heart. His name was MAX.
The warrior boy NUX, in need of a tracker on the Fury Road, selected the slave-dog 'MAX'. Chaining his dog to his wrist, Nux drove off down the Fury Road to find and kill his former commander, Warrior Woman, and return the six to his beloved warlord.
When a powerful FURY STORM blew in, the slave Max overpowered Nux in the ferocious wind. Unable to sever the chain, Max dragged Nux out of the storm and stumbled across his means of escape...
Warrior Woman and the six girls…TO BE CONTINUED…
Everything seems in order. Even the way Miller wrote the synopsis sounds exactly how a Wordburger would recount the tale to a group of wide-eyed, grimy Citadel children of how Furiosa and the Wives freed them all from the shackles of toxic masculinity.
But it wasn’t just the mythology that Miller had a healthy grasp on early in the game. As this storyboard from that last century(!) prove, even the frenetic pace was always part of the plan.
Image Credit: Warner Bros.
Max was always caught and branded. The huge sandstorm always played a role. The route Furiosa travels still goes through the plains, the mountain pass, and the bog. The war rig is recognizable. Fragile still breaks down and tries to return to Immortan Joe. Even the ending it intact.
But then there are the tiny, fascinating differences.
• Furiosa seems to be referred to as Ricci at this stage. Though Ricci could also be Splendid's original name.
• Immortan Joe has three brothers instead of just two.
• Nux and Capable make time to consummate their relationship.
• The bog people were “sky fishing.”
• The war rig was originally forced into the mountain pass by Immortan Joe's forces instead of it being part of Furiosa’s plan.
• The Doof Warrior was originally playing a guitar/violin hybrid.
Would y’all have liked to have seen any of these play out in the film? Are there pieces you’re glad they dropped? Personally, I would have loved to have seen more of the bog people, especially their fishing technique!