'Mad Max' creator George Miller: Futuristic 'Furiosa' addresses timeless conflict

George Miller (R) directs Anya Taylor-Joy in "Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga." Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures
1 of 5 | George Miller (R) directs Anya Taylor-Joy in "Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga." Photo courtesy of Warner Bros. Pictures

LOS ANGELES, May 23 (UPI) -- Mad Max series creator George Miller said the latest entry in his post-apocalyptic saga, Furiosa, in theaters Friday, still speaks to historic issues.

Set 40 to 50 years after the collapse of society, the conflicts between survivors and warlords remain timeless, Miller said.


"Even though this is set in a post-apocalyptic future, the behavior goes back to the Dark Ages or medieval times," the 79-year-old said during a recent Zoom press conference. "It goes back to raw, elemental behavior."

Miller began the series in 1979, with former cop Max Rockatansky (Mel Gibson) wandering the wasteland after marauders murdered his family. Furiosa is the origin story of the character whom Max (now Tom Hardy) encountered in 2015's Mad Max: Fury Road.

Furiosa shows how young Furiosa (Alyla Brown) was taken from her home in the only remaining lush oasis of vegetation. Growing up with her captor, Dementus (Chris Hemsworth), the adult Furiosa (Anya Taylor-Joy) reluctantly allies herself with Dementus' rival, Immortan Joe (Lachy Hulme).


"Conflict, as you know, is the staple of all drama from the earliest times, in all storytelling tradition," Miller said. "When you get rising conflict in stories, it reveals some essence about the characters and the world."

Miller said he is interested in why human beings have always told stories. His medium happens to be cinema, but Miller noted storytelling dates to ancient mythology and religious texts.

"The medium always changes, but story is fundamental to who we are as human beings," he said. "We are hardwired for it. It's the way our brains work, both individually and collectively."

In Furiosa, Dementus and Immortan Joe go to war with each other, each commanding an army of followers. Meanwhile, Furiosa focuses on her survival and escape.

That can mean getting involved in the warlords' conflict. For example, Furiosa joins a supply run so she can learn to drive one of Immortan Joe's tankers.

Like the Mad Max films, Furiosa includes many car chases and explosive battles. However, Miller said, the themes of corrupt power and survival make the films last in viewers' minds.

"You tell the stories to people and they make of it what they will," Miller said. "Wherever you are in time and space, you're responding to things in the story that have meaning to you."


The story of Furiosa leads up to the beginning of Fury Road and features earlier versions of characters Furiosa and Immortan Joe.

Miller said Taylor-Joy was able to portray the character's depth of thought with very little dialogue, as Charlize Theron did playing the character in Fury Road.

"In the wasteland, words don't mean much," he said. "You interact by action."

Miller created the new character, Dementus, before he cast Hemsworth. One of Miller's ideas was that Dementus carried around a teddy bear, the last remnant of his own family.

Once cast, he said, Hemsworth made Dementus' teddy bear more pivotal in the story, offering it to young Furiosa.

"[Hemsworth] saw that as a way of connecting with Furiosa," he said, adding that Dementus "saw himself, in a wacky sort of way, as a mentor as to how to survive the wasteland."

As Miller studied storytelling through cinema in his 45-year career, he said he has observed audiences' relationships with films become more immediate. With the advent of the Internet and social media, he said he can witness engagement much faster.

"It used to take about 10 years for a consensus to settle on the story," Miller said. "Now, that's accelerated because all information and human exchange has accelerated so much."


Anya Taylor-Joy, Chris Hemsworth attend 'Furiosa' premiere at Cannes

Left to right, star Chris Hemsworth, director George Miller and star Anya Taylor- Joy attend the photo call for "Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga" at the 77th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, France, on May 16, 2024. Photo by Rune Hellestad/UPI | License Photo

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