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Clip description

Max (Mel Gibson) is now a desert wanderer, in a world where petrol is the only currency. He drives ‘the last of the V8 Interceptors’, a remnant of the days when he was a highway patrolman. As the film begins, he’s being chased by three bandits, led by Wez (Vernon Wells), riding the motorbike, with the Golden Youth (Jim Brown) as passenger. Max outsmarts them and injures Wez with a crossbow. He also discovers the remains of a previous raid on a semi-trailer. This vehicle will become important later in the story.

Curator’s notes

The change from the previous film is announced emphatically – more stylised landscape, costuming and characterisation, with a strong hint of the American western. Max’s injuries in the last film have determined how he looks now – his leg braced, his jacket missing one arm. His adversaries now drive much more customised vehicles, rather than souped-up cars. They are cannibalised monsters, befitting the savagery of their owners. The hint of dandyism in the character played by Hugh Keays-Byrne in the first film gives way to full-scale neo-tribalism now in the Indian hairdo of Wez, set off by shoulder pads with black feathers! His androgynous passenger further accentuates the move towards high camp – well before Australian movies embraced a gay aesthetic in the 1990s. The sequence also serves as a wake-up call to the audience – the film begins at full pelt, with no holds barred. Try counting the number of shots in this sequence – there are about seventy cuts. In the moment that Max slams on the brakes, there are approximately ten cuts in the space of a few seconds, some almost too quick to see. Notice also the use of the ‘golden hour’ light, particularly on the shot of Wez’s arm with cross–bow as he draws up to Max’s car. Miller has said that much of the production time was spent chasing this kind of late afternoon light.