Finally got Mad Max on dvd and sat down to watch it with my partner (who never got a chance to see it at the cinema).
Here are some semi-coherent thoughts from a classicist:
By using the term ‘imperator’, the comparison to Rome is invited.
Immortan Joe, The Bullet Farmer and The People Eater as a triumvirate.
Men, emperors, concerned to make themselves gods even before they die. The imperial cult.
The mother’s milk, the women treated as cattle – Hera, Io, once again, the “Greek impulse to see female sexuality in terms of cows.” (Padel, 1992: 121), though perhaps it’s not such a specifically Greek impulse, in the end. The ‘humanisation’ of the rapist, the playing down of rape: the mental and emotional abuse on top of the physical abuse. The wives have it good, Immortan Joe tells them. If you ignore the slavery and the rape. Io will have it good, Prometheus tells her – Zeus will impregnate her with a gentle touch. Nevermind that it’s still rape. Nevermind that she has been dragged from her home and family and chased across the world until eventually she finds a place she can settle down. Just one more woman racing through a hostile world desperately looking for a place to call home.
The Citadel = agriculture
Gas Town = commerce
The Bullet Farm = war
Who killed the world? Ask the wives. Men like Immortan Joe, the camera tells us, framing him in front of their written question. The world ended. There was an apocalypse. Where are the four horsemen? What happens to them afterwards? This would not be the first work that has replaced their horses with cars. (Good Omens, Supernatural).
the Bullet Farmer (The Bullet Farm) as war
Immortan Joe (the Citadel) as famine
The People Eater (Gas town) as pollution
But Death is always different. Death is not like the others. (again, Good Omens, Supernatural). Death is Furiosa, and Death comes even for her brother horsemen, in the end.
Mad Max as Odysseus – the City Sacker, but an Odysseus without hope. And Odysseus who cannot return home no matter how far he wanders. There is no Penelope in this world – no woman beset by men trying to force her to take their hand in marriage, whose only hope is to hold them off until her husband returns. No. Instead these women are Medeas and Amazons. In this world the suitors already took them. They could not hold them off. And now they will not wait for a man to save them. They will save themselves or die trying.
Furiosa as Persephone? She left and the Green Place died. Now she returns to the Many Mothers – the Many Demeters, who hold the seeds, who are ready to replant and revitalise the world, to make the crops grow again, if only they could. She cannot revive the Green Place with her return, but she can take them back with her to a new Green Place, her city, a city of Famine and Death. In the post-apocalyptic world, the borders and boundaries break down – the imaginary borders of countries, the borders between the world, between Olympus, and the earth, and Hades. Now Hades is the Green Place. Persephone no longer ocillates between her roles, she is both, all the time. Time has no meaning in the post-apocalypse. Season are one more boundary that has disappeared.