In a time when the feminist agenda is more popular than ever, it's no surprise that it's also become some what of a gimmick. Rather than actually trying to push the envelope for equal rights between genders, many film-makers and studios alike have been recently accused of exploiting the movement for financial gain. What might be surprising however is that the one man who cannot be accused of this is also white, in his 70s and makes movies about men crashing into things with their cars. Here's why George Miller is the truest of feminists.
Mad Max: Furiosa Road
What surprised many about [Mad Max: Fury Road](tag:41445), other than it being their number one movie of 2015, was the bad-assery that was Charlize Theron playing the mighty Furiosa. Armed with both beauty and brains, Furiosa can shoot with the best of them, lead with the best of them, but at the same time, felt fragile enough to be real. Whereas in "The Force Awakens", the lead role "Rey", played by Daisy Ridley, seems apparently unkillable and perfect at everything, Furiosa is imperfect, with warts and all. She's not as adapt at Max is at hand-to-hand combat, although she's better with a long-range sniper-rifle, it's her good nature that got her into the mess that perpetuates the story, a mess that almost kills her may I add, literally, and she's privy to making mistakes, lots of them. As a result Furiosa is a much more relatable and earnest character. It also makes her a much better role-model, for women and for men. She shows that it's not about how you behave when you succeed that counts, it's how you behave when you don't. Will you give up, or pick yourself back up and keep going? This is a rule we can all live by, regardless of gender. And Miller understands this intrinsically; for a woman to be a true heroin, she should be inspirational to all, regardless of what sex they are.
Mother's Milk, Blood and Handbags.
Symbolism in "Fury Road" is rampant. And all of it illustrates the harmonious nature of women when compared to their masculine counterparts. 'Mothers milk' is of course associated with women and therefore life, whereas the ever present blood in the movie is associated with the men unleashing it with their violent behaviour, and the death that results. Milk sustains life, whereas blood is associated with life end. In one scene Max literally uses 'Mother's milk' to wash away the blood of his foes. This act symbolises both Max's and in extension, Furiosa's motive to "get a shot at redemption". This symbolism is so powerful because of it's simplicity and perfectly narrates this the motive of both main characters in the story.
Miller continues his symbolism with the use of handbags in the story. Whilst Max uses an emptied handbag to store all of the guns he can find from the cockpit of the road warrior, whilst holding everyone up at gunpoint may I add, one of the old ladies from Furiosa's home clan uses her own handbag to carry the seeds of life. Literally named 'Keeper of the Seeds', she represents the hope that one day mistakes can be rectified, and life can grow once more. In other words redemption can be found. Symbolism is present everywhere in "Fury Road", and all of it pays homage to how much Miller truly loves women.
Women Saving the Day is Nothing New
A key character in Miller's Original 1978 "Mad Max" film is this gun slinging badass as pictured above. Despite both her age and gender, 'May' was able to keep the bad guys at bay so Max had apt opportunity to escape and finish is his own story-arch. Not only was her presence in the movie surprising, what's perhaps even more surprising is the trust Miller had in the audiences ability to invest in May as a character, especially with such an important role.
Finally, very importantly, is Miller's portrayal of men. They're not a one-dimensional accessory to the female characters in the film, but entities in and of themselves. Miller understands that you don't perpetuate the role of women in society by de-valuing the role of men. The entire purpose of Miller's vision is the idea of co-habitation. It is only when a group comprised exclusively of women go to co-habitate an area predominantly occupied by men that a sustainable equilibrium is found. What's more is it takes complicated and complex male characters to move the story along as well. Everyone is a product of their nuclear scarred environment, regardless of gender, and it is only when everyone converges together that solutions can be found. Perhaps these are all lessons we can learn in our own lives too.