The latest entry in the Mad Max series offered a lot of great things — flamethrowers, fast cars and, of course, feminism. Yeah, you read that right: feminism. Now you can relive the glorious action-movie explosions and all the feminist subtext at "Feminism in the Time of the Apocalypse: Mad Max: Fury Road ," a special presentation of the film at the Sie FilmCenter this Friday, December 11.
East High School teachers Todd Madison and Charlie Gaare, who are teaching the film as part of their film and women’s lit classes, will intro the film and, once it’s all over, lead a discussion on the feminist elements of the movie, with members of their respective classes in tow. “When the movie came out, it inspired a lot of really interesting commentary, even objections from MRAs (Men’s Rights Activists) and that sort,” Madison says. “It’s really interesting that they took this iconic action movie hero, made great by Mel Gibson and George Miller, and they do this reboot and it’s stunning to see Mad Max in a secondary role for much of the movie.”
Part of the power of the film is its stripped-down efficiency, channeling as much action into its runtime as physically possible. Madison says even much of that is rooted in the feminism of the film, and the way that it uses those elements to do the unexpected in a way that feels completely natural.
“There’s two unnaturally beautiful people in the movie — Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy — and there’s no romantic subplots or will-they/won’t-they,” he says. “There’s a moment where Hardy is going to take a shot at a bad guy, and he realizes he’s not the superior shot so he gives the gun up to Furiosa and she uses his shoulder like a tripod and takes the shot. The handing over of that hero status and agency was really quite stunning in a movie like this. It’s funny how little things like that can be so subversive of the genre in some ways.”
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Then of course, there’s the plot itself, which sees Max and Furiosa teaming up to free a cadre of sex slaves from the film’s villain.
“Charlie’s class is talking about women as commodities,” Madison says. “It gives the movie a good cause to fight for. Instead of oil, which is life in the original Road Warrior movie, here it’s also individual freedom and autonomy for women and everyone else that’s subjugated. It’s packed with all this stuff, but it’s a really simple movie, too.”
And if you’re less interested in talking feminism in action film than just getting a chance to see a kick-ass movie on the big screen before it disappears for a decade or two, that’s fine. “I don’t want to reduce the movie to just feminist polemic. There’s so many things going on, and that’s just part of it — an important part of it,” Madison says. “It’s really spectacularly executed visual storytelling, and it’s thrilling that it sheds so many conventions of action pictures and gets right to it. It doesn’t derail it with subplots or conventional markers. That’s something we want to celebrate as well.”
See and discuss "Feminism in the Time of the Apocalypse: Mad Max: Fury Road" at 7 p.m. Friday, December 11, at the Sie FilmCenter. Tickets are $11, or $8 for seniors and $7 for Denver Film Society members. For tickets and additional info, visit the Feminism in the Time of the Apocalypse: Mad Max: Fury Road event page.