4 out 5
Directed by: Gary McFeat, Tim Ridge
An information-packed but ultimately dry documentary, the madness of max goes into intense detail regarding all aspects of the making and marketing of the original Mad Max.
While I’m sure there’s some definitive source on the film, it’s likely / possible that this doc will become the definitive source, as the amount of information covered surpasses what can he scraped together from more popular web sources and the movie’s DVD / blu-ray commentary. The cost of including that much info, of course, is an expansive runtime: At 2.5 hours, it’s longer than any film from the series. And as this almost exclusively consists of talking heads, I can’t say it’s the most thrilling viewing, nor are the transitions or editing particularly grabbing to break up the pacing. This is not a casual view. But taken at its own pace – I watched it in sections – it is incredibly fascinating, and can help to set the appropriate sense of awe regarding the film for those of us who weren’t around at the time of its release. By trawling through the very beginning of the idea kicking around between George Miller and Byron Kennedy, up through the interesting interactions on set (the biker gang, in particular, sinking deep into character) and the juggling of the pic to its wider international release, it really does feel like (doc makers) found and presented every tidbit and memory that could be found.
Oddly, for a 2015 release, this is all very VHS / archival. The interviews’ video quality suggests as much, and the Mel Gibson we see certainly isn’t the actual 2015 Mel Gibson. And since there’s no contextualizing this with Fury Road, its further assumed this stuff was all gleaned from some vault. So maybe some the fans already knew all of this information, but certainly having it compiled into one location is convenient.
The Madness of Max is cut and dry, structurally. It likely won’t convert anyone who’s not already interested in the film, and can be a bit exhausting to watch in one go. But for anyone with even a passing interest, the amount of crazy factoids covered is impressive, making the doc incredibly rewarding, at whatever pace you sift through it.