Study Guide

Mad Max: Fury Road Visions of the Apocalypse

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Visions of the Apocalypse

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.

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