September 23, 2010 12 Comments
As with many 80s films I grew up with, they seemed quite innocuous on the surface level, but as you mature, you are able to reflect on the subtler messages and meanings in film and literature. My own and Peter Parker’s reviews here have garnered quite a few thousand hits over the past couple years, so I can take that as further confirmation that we are certainly on the right track. Several sites will review modern films and point out the deeper meanings, hidden symbols and predictive programming, but very few do what we do – go back in time looking for it. Other sites tend to focus on the purely esoteric or ‘Illuminati agenda’ messages which may or may not actually be there. What we try to do is a real decoding, as broad in scope as possible, with a more holistic semiotic, as opposed to reading films through a singular “conspiracy” lens. Not everything is conspiracy.
That said, there are some fascinating things going on in Mad Max 3 beyond the surface post-apocalyptic adventure tale. There are actually some very profound social critiques, symbols, philosophical theories and esoteric images used. So let’s begin. Part 3 starts with Max on his own again, the ever-scorned, never appreciated, jaded hero. Max is the loner reduced to a state of survival: a Clint Eastwood type, who has given up on civilization (and not without reason). In fact, one of the chief themes of Thunderdome will be about the nature of civilization itself – is it really that civilized?
Max is a Bedouin-esque wanderer now, with a caravan, having lost his trademark sports car in part 2. We begin with Max losing his caravan to the trickster airplane man (played by Bruce Spence). Max’s goods are taken by Spence’s character to Bartertown, the renewed version of “civilization.” However, Bartertown is a cesspool of disgusting thugs, miscreants and savages. Not only that, it is ruled over by a rival faction of Aunty Entity (played by Tina Turner), and the ruler of its underworld which provides methane fuel for electrical power, Master Blaster. Underworld is also replete with hell imagery as a pit full of slaves and pigs. So immediately, we have statements being made about social structure and hierarchy. Aunty is an elitist, who lives above everyone in Bartertown, in a tent atop a tower. Aunty keeps the animal-like populace in line by providing food, sex, economics and entertainment. Underworld, however, is run by a retarded giant (Blaster) who has a kind of humonculous midget who sits atop his back (Master). We have here the juxtaposition of baser bodily instincts embodied in Blaster, with reason, science and technology embodied in Master. Together they form a unit and represent technological power, which has survived the apocalypse. Aunty represents feminine machinations and scheming, wherein civilization is actually seen as a domesticating institution (contrary to many images of “civilization” wherein it is presented as a patriarchal, masculine logos structure). Read more of this post