MAX: My name is Max. My world is fire and blood.
Hmm. Okay. Good to know. For realsies, though, Shmoopers: his world pretty much is fire and blood—and it's not just his world; it's the whole stinkin' planet. It's no wonder Max has gone 'round the bend. When everything in your life is either dead, dusty, or depraved, insanity seems the only safe route.
VOICEOVER: It's the oil wars. We're killing for guzzoline. Now it's the water wars.
Hooray, some exposition. Based on this brief audio montage of what sounds an awful lot like news reports (although we really can't be sure), it sounds like the apocalypse came about because Earth got all used up. In other words, everything went to you-know-where in a handbasket because there were too many people fighting over too few resources. That sure does sound like a recipe for ecological disaster.
THE ORGANIC MECHANIC (in tattoo form): O-negative. High octane. Universal donor.
The Organic Mechanic tattoos these words on Max's back when he's first in captivity at the Citadel. It's a great moment of characterization—we learn that Max is crazy (high octane), and that he's also a universal donor since he's got O-negative blood. But what's this got to do with the apocalypse? Well, for one thing it shows us that in the power vacuums that arose in the wasteland after the oil wars and the water wards, tyrants like Immortan Joe can gain power and treat everyone—and we mean everyone—like a commodity. That's how Max ends up acting as literally nothing more than a blood bag for Nux, the pugnacious but ill War Boy.
ACE: We are War Boys! Kamakrazee war boys! Fucacima kamakrazee war boys! Today we're headin' to Gas Town! Today we're hauling Aqua Cola! Today we're hauling produce! And today we're hauling mother's milk!
As Ace—one of Furiosa's War Boys—shouts this chant, the other War Boys in their convoy join in and repeat his words. The moment does so much world building in a short span of time. We learn about the economy of the apocalypse, where the Citadel can trade water (that would be Aqua Cola), produce, and mother's milk for "guzzoline" (and bullets, too). And check out how they refer to water as Aqua Cola, as if Immortan Joe has created a brand of water all his own. As if you can own water in the first place…
IMMORTAN JOE: I am your redeemer. It is by my hand you will rise from the ashes of this world!
Okay, Joe. We think maybe you've drunk a bit too much of your own Kool-Aid. If you ask someone like Angharad, it's men like Immortan that turned the world into ashes in the first place ("Who killed the world?"), so his promise of redemption rings a little hollow. Most of the Wretched probably wouldn't be so wretched if Joe could learn to share the wealth. Alas, megalomaniacs aren't known for their generosity.
NUX: If I'm gonna die, I'm gonna die historic on the Fury Road.
Poor Nux. His whole post-apocalyptic worldview is wrapped up in the idea of kamikaze-ing himself to honor a hideous maniac. But we guess there aren't many choices in the wasteland. Dude's gotta believe in something, right?
NUX: I am awaited! I am awaited in Valhalla!
When you're a half-life like Nux (meaning his radiation poisoning will lead him to an early death), Valhalla probably sounds pretty good. There's mead there, right?
NUX: Oh what a day! What a lovely day!
Nux has some interesting taste in days. What passes for a lovely day in the apocalypse is one in which a giant dust storm with colossal tornadoes sucks you into its churn and spits you back out in one piece. Praise Immortan?
FURIOSA: How does it feel?
ANGHARAD: It hurts.
FURIOSA: Out here, everything hurts.
Well isn't our Furiosa just so upbeat? She's not wrong though—and she would know. Furiosa has clearly been in pain (of the emotional kind) for a long, long time. With this brief downer of a line, Furiosa reminds Angharad that their decision to leave the Citadel means that they are leaving behind the relative physical comfort of the Citadel—where they were at least fed—for the wild wasteland where anything can and will happen. But for Angharad, the choice seems easy—better to risk it out where "everything hurts" than stay behind, living with your captor and rapist.
NUX: It's over. You can't defy him.
THE DAG: Just watch us, mate.
NUX: He is the one who grabbed the sun.
TOAST: Look how slick he's fooled you, War Boy.
CAPABLE: He's a lying old man.
NUX: By his hand, we'll be lifted up!
ANGHARAD: That's why we have his logo seared on our backs! Breeding stock! Battle fodder!
NUX: No, I am awaited!
ANGHARAD: You're an old man's battle fodder, killing everyone and everything!
NUX: We're not to blame!
ANGHARAD: Then who killed the world?
Their brief argument with Nux allows the breeders to show us exactly what they think of Immortan Joe's particular brand of apocalyptic rule. Basically, they blame him and all his war cronies for the state of the world, because it's folks like Immortan Joe who waste and hoard resources, allowing the earth to turn sour and lives everywhere to be lost.
KEEPER OF THE SEEDS: Where does the water come from?
TOAST: He pumps it up from deep in the earth, calls it Aqua Cola and claims it for himself.
THE DAG: And because he owns it, he owns all of us.
KEEPER OF THE SEEDS: I don't like him already.
Yeah, we're with you on that one, Keeper of the Seeds. She seems pretty disgusted by Immortan Joe's commodification of everything. The women are property, water is property, and owning property gives you power. We thought we got past this with the fall of Medieval feudalism, but it just goes to show you that when civilization falls, there's no telling what will rise up in its place. Best start building that bunker now, folks.
The Wretched: Let them up! Let them up! Let them up!
Victory is sweet, don't you think? With this chant, the Wretched assert that for once and for all, Immortan Joe's apocalyptic totalitarian regime has, quite literally, been upended. His former property are now his successors, destined—we hope—to rule the Citadel in a much more humanitarian way.
MISS GIDDY: They are not your property.
IMMORTAN JOE: Miss Giddy?
MISS GIDDY: You cannot own a human being. Sooner or later, someone pushes back!
IMMORTAN JOE: Where is she taking them?
MISS GIDDY: She didn't take them. They begged her to go!
IMMORTAN JOE: Where is she taking them?
MISS GIDDY: A long way from you.
You tell him, Miss Giddy. Left behind by the women, Miss Giddy defies Immortan Joe to his face when he arrives to check on his wives. That takes some serious guts, right? Immortan Joe is not a man you stand up to lightly. She's taking a big risk here.
WAR BOY: Furiosa! She took a lot of stuff from Immortan Joe.
NUX: What stuff?
WAR BOY: Breeders. His prized breeders. He wants them back.
ANGHARAD: We're not going back.
This quick little line packs a big punch. Angharad's refusal to go back tells us that even though out in the wasteland "everything hurts," it's preferable to being treated like property, with no freedom or agency of your own. She'd rather risk her life in an endless desert than live for one more day under Immortan Joe's thumb.
ANGHARAD: We're going to the Green Place. We're going to the Green Place of Many Mothers.
"The Green Place of Many Mothers" as a phrase connects two very important themes in Fury Road into one concept: ecofeminism. Environmental survival (in other words, green-ness) is correlated with motherhood as a value. Basically, in this world, women in power might mean more green for everyone. Men in power means more Immortan Joes.
TOAST THE KNOWING: Of all the legs you had to shoot, that one was attached to his favorite.
Toast's flippant comment to Max in passing shows just how ingrained the idea of women-as-property is ingrained in this culture. Even Toast—a smart young woman seeking agency and liberation—describes Angharad's leg injury as if it's a dent in Immortan's favorite Cadillac.
TOAST THE KNOWING: Don't damage the goods.
Here's another example of Toast's world-building snark. She's in danger from Max here, and she refers to herself—her own body—as goods. She sees herself as a commodity because that's how the world treats her. But based on her sarcastic tone, we know she knows she's more.
IMMORTAN JOE: Splendid! That's my child! My property!
Not only are the women property—their offspring are too. We never hear about whether or not these women have borne Immortan Joe other children (perhaps girls, who can't be heir to his Citadel throne?), but we can imagine that any children these women have will not be given a chance to be loved by their mothers. And their mothers will have no say in their children's future.
CHEEDO: We were his treasures!
CHEEDO: We were protected! He gave us the high life! What's wrong with that?
CAPABLE: We are not things.
You tell her, Capable. What's so sad about this moment is that it illustrates the small compromises these women must make in order to survive. In this moment, Cheedo thinks, hey, we had it pretty good back there. After all, they weren't like the wretched. They were fed and clothed and educated. But at the end of the day, they were still slaves. And for Capable, that's all that matters.
ORGANIC MECHANIC: Another month, could have been your viable human.
IMMORTAN JOE: Was it a male?
ORGANIC MECHANIC: Your A-1 Alpha prime.
We can't help but notice that it sounds an awful lot like the Organic Mechanic is describing Angharad's stillborn baby like he would a steak. So it looks like Immortan Joe's commodification of the human body extends to men, too. Or male babies in this case.
FURIOSA: I am one of the Vuvalini. Of the Many Mothers. My Initiate Mother was K.T. Concannon. I am the daughter of Mary Jabassa. My clan was Swaddle Dog.
Based on a few context clues, we can guess that the Green Place was home to a matriarchal society, where women handed down their names and their power.
THE KEEPER OF THE SEEDS: You having a baby?
THE DAG: Warlord Junior. Gonna be so ugly.
THE KEEPER OF THE SEEDS: Could be a girl.
Oh snap. Here, it seems having a girl is a blessing rather than a curse. Now that the Dag has escaped the clutches of Immortan Joe, if she has a girl that girl can grow up to be something other than a breeder. Something more free.
WAR BOYS: Thunder up! Thunder up!
The War Boys in Immortan Joe's troops use violent language in their war partying. They pump each other up by encouraging violence.
ANGHARAD: No unnecessary killing.
Angharad is a good reminder that the women aren't just escaping slavery: they're trying to escape violence as well. In other words, their rebellion isn't just about feminist issues. They are rebelling against the violence with which Immortan Joe rules the Citadel, and they're attempting to survive and exercise their own power without violence.
THE DAG: Angharad used to call them antiseed.
CHEEDO: Plant one and watch something die.
That's a pretty apt description of a bullet if we may say so. And check out how this exchange between the Dag and Cheedo extends the metaphor. If a bullet is a seed, then the human body in which it's planted (or shot) is like the soil. Echoes of ecofeminism? Absolutely. For more on this, check out the "Women and Femininity" theme.
BULLET FARMER: I am the scales of justice! Conductor of the choir of death!... Sing, brothers, sing!
Gee, someone's got an ego. And last time we checked, "justice" didn't involve firing a giant machine gun at a bunch of defenseless women. Just sayin'.
TOAST THE KNOWING: What do you suppose he's gonna do?
FURIOSA: Retaliate first.
Furiosa is referring to Max here, when he disappears into the fog to deal with the Bullet Farmer. Her terse answer to Toast's innocent question shows us that in this world, in many ways, it's kill or be killed. Max's violence stems from his need to survive, and nothing more. We wish we could say the same for Immortan Joe and his henchmen.
THE DAG: You kill people with that, do you?
THE KEEPER OF THE SEEDS: Killed everyone I ever met out here. Headshots. All of them. Snap. Right in the medulla.
See? Even the ecofeminist Vuvalini resort to violence in order to make it out in the wasteland. In Fury Road, violence is a way of life. But it's one that these women desperately want to be able to stop living.
IMMORTAN JOE: Do not, my friends, become addicted to water. It will take hold of you, and you will resent its absence.
We're pretty sure you can't become "addicted" to something that is utterly necessary for survival, but we digress. What we see here is a warlord taking total control of an essential natural resource. Immortan Joe controls the water, therefore he controls the people who desperately need that water in order to, you know, not die.
TOAST THE KNOWING: Whatever happens, we're going to the Green Place.
CHEEDO: The stupid Green Place. We don't even know where to find it.
The wives are devastated when Angharad dies, but what's even more devastating is when they find out that the Green Place doesn't even exist anymore. How could it, when the earth has gone so sour?
NUX: There's high ground, just beyond that thing.
CAPABLE: He means the tree.
NUX: Yeah. Tree.
Imagine living in a world that doesn't have any trees. Heck, imagine living in a world that hasn't seen a tree grow in so long that you completely forget what the thing even is.
FURIOSA: I can't wait for them to see it.
THE KEEPER OF THE SEEDS: See? See what?
FURIOSA: Home. The Green Place.
THE VUVALINI: But if you came from the West, you passed it.
THE DAG: The Crows. The creepy place with all the crows.
THE VUVALINI: The soil.
THE KEEPER OF THE SEEDS: We had to get out.
THE VUVALINI: We had no water.
THE KEEPER OF THE SEEDS: The water was filth.
THE VUVALINI: It was poisoned. It was sour.
THE VUVALINI: And then the crows came.
THE VUVALINI: We couldn't grow anything.
Here the Vuvalini dash any hopes the wives and Furiosa had of a nice bucolic existence in the Green Place. It may have taken longer, but the ecological apocalypse (ecopocalypse?) got there eventually. Nothing is safe—especially if it's green.
THE KEEPER OF THE SEEDS: Take a peek.
THE DAG: Seeds.
THE KEEPER OF THE SEEDS: These are from home. Heirlooms. The real thing. I plant one every chance I get.
THE DAG: Where?
THE KEEPER OF THE SEEDS: So far, nothing's took. Earth's too sour.
THE DAG: Ah, so many different kinds.
THE KEEPER OF THE SEEDS: Trees, flowers, fruit. Back then, everyone had their fill. Back then, there was no need to snap anybody.
In this quick exchange with the Dag, the Keeper of the Seeds reminds the audience that the whole reason the world is so violent is that nothing grows in it anymore. If they could make the world green again—which she's trying her darndest to do—there would be no need to "snap" or kill anyone.
FURIOSA: The Citadel.
VUVALINI: What's there to find at the Citadel.
TOAST: And water. There's a ridiculous amount of clear water. And a lot of crops.
THE DAG: It's got everything you need.
It's got everything you need, all right. In fact, it's got everything everyone needs—it just needs people in power who aren't going to horde it all for themselves. People like, say, the Vuvalini and the wives?