If you’re even bothering to look at this review then chances are you’re either a Mad Max fan or you at least enjoyed Mad Max: Fury Road and are interested in perhaps learning a bit more about the film and its production.
Of that The Art of Mad Max: Fury Road, a new volume from Titan Books, will give you far more than your money’s worth and I really don’t say that lightly. It packs so much visual beauty and fascinating information between its sturdy hardback covers—much of this info being unavailable in the many articles and videos about the film put out by various commentators—that the volume is a singular experience unto itself apart from the movie. Granted, you will have to have seen the movie first to have a point of reference but this book is really a work of art in its own right.
The volume is graced by a foreword by George Miller himself, and right away the maestro of mayhem sets the tone for the contents to follow. This is no obligatory, throwaway foreword for a tie-in book simply intended to sell copies and make money. These are the sincere words of a filmmaker who every bit intended for this book to serve as part and parcel of the Fury Road viewing experience.
“We shot the film ‘old school,’” Miller writes in his foreword. “As much as possible those are real people, cast and stunties, in the speeding vehicles and catastrophic crashes. Every behavior, every moment of fight and stunt choreography were the product of a shared vision.”
Once you finish Miller’s foreword you then turn the page and thereupon are overwhelmed by an onslaught of facts, anecdotes, conceptual art and photography, all of which will not only deepen your appreciation of the film but will leave you in awe at the sheer scale of planning and logistics involved in the “old school” filmmaking that Miller refers to in his foreword, so much so that aspiring but timid Hollywood filmmakers just might reconsider their desired career after finishing this book.
Much of the success of The Art of Mad Max: Fury Road has to do with the involvement of artists Brendan McCarthy, Peter Pound and Mark Sexton whose stunning conceptual art pack this volume from front to back. The work of McCarthy, Sexton et al. as displayed in these pages is truly a tour-de-force and goes to show just how much the visual power of Fury Road is indebted to the comic book medium. We learn, for instance, how in the early stages of development the storyboards served as the blueprint for the film far more than the script (in fact, in the beginning there wasn’t even a conventionally written script and the storyboard, like a true comic book, served that purpose).
Then there’s the gorgeous photography by Jasin Boland and Colin Gibson, the latter of whom also served as the film’s visionary production designer. These photos work in perfect unison with the mentioned artists’ conceptual art and the short articles by writer Abbie Bernstein that reveal diegetic information that the film itself does not directly reveal. For instance, the movie does not actually tell us what happens to Miss Giddy, the old woman who shouts, “We are not things!” and tries to shoot Immortan Joe. Here, however, we not only find out exactly what happened to her we also get an entire back story about the character’s background and purpose.
Aside from the high quality of the actual content, The Art of Mad Max: Fury Road is a sumptuous volume in a purely physical way as well—from the smooth feel of the durable hardcover to the pleasing way the pages creak between your fingers as you turn them and the wonderfully robust new book smell that immediately wafts towards you as soon as you open the book to any page.
For those seeking to bask in the afterglow of one of the best films of 2015 so far, The Art of Mad Max: Fury Road is a splendidly cohesive and superior companion book that will delight and impress you and is highly recommended for any fan of the film.