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Book Review: ‘Blood, Sweat & Chrome : the Wild and True Story of Mad Max: Fury Road’

Book Review: ‘Blood, Sweat & Chrome : the Wild and True Story of Mad Max: Fury Road’

By Librarian Kristine Olsen

Large blue and orange text over a splattered black background is the cover of the book "Blood, Sweat & Chrome."

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I, along with many others, I’m sure, dismissed the idea of yet another Mad Max film when I first learned another movie was in production. I didn’t know how they were going to continue the story, especially after “Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome;” and getting Mel Gibson to come back as the character that made his career despite his age and the controversies that soured his career? Suffice it to say, I just chalked it up to another Hollywood money grab at the time given the skepticism I had about how it was all supposed to come together, especially with Tom Hardy in the role Gibson once owned.

Time passed and then the trailer dropped for “Mad Max: Fury Road.” What on earth was I seeing in those precious few minutes on my computer screen? Super dust storms, fantastical vehicles, wild chase scenes, a nearly unrecognizable Charlize Theron, breathtaking stunt work, just to name a few. Could they possibly have added something remarkable to the Mad Max cannon? I found my initial skepticism quickly being replaced by pure excitement in the face of that trailer. May 15 was definitely marked on the calendar for a trip to the local multiplex.

Oh, how to describe the experience of seeing this particular film on the silver screen? Breathtaking, jaw dropping, pulse pounding, relentless, brutal, redeeming, are just a few words that come to mind these many years since I saw “Mad Max: Fury Road” for the first time. I was transfixed from start to finish watching the events unfold in this wildly dystopian world. George Miller truly did pull it off with this addition to the Mad Max cannon. Unparalleled world building, a superb cast, exquisite performances from the cast, especially Hardy’s and Theron’s, although Theron’s Furiosa handily stole the show, attention to detail, unbelievable stunts all made for a deeply compelling viewing. I left the theater feeling as though I road along in the War Rig with Max and Furiosa myself. I really wanted to know more about how they pulled this remarkable feat off.

Kyle Buchanan’s book has more than satisfied that desire. In “Blood, Sweat & Chrome: The Wild and True Story of Mad Max: Fury Road” Buchanan takes the reader on the journey embarked on by George Miller to bring his revolutionary vision to the screen. Culled from numerous interviews of cast and crew alike, you’ll find out how fraught the journey was to make this movie a reality. Part one deals with the construction of the story and finding a studio brave enough to take on the challenges the story would entail. Part two provides a glimpse into how it was to be on set filming this in the Namibian and Australian desserts. Part three details how the film was received by film critics, audiences, and even the Academy of Motion Picture Art and Sciences. A film I once dismissed took home numerous awards for its ingenuity and originality. In essence, the journey to make Fury Road was just as fraught as the journey we viewers took with Max and Furiosa.

This book is truly an oral history of the movie. The structure is unique in that each section is a collection of quotations from the interviews the author conducted with those affiliated with the film’s production. I did find it a bit of a challenge to keep straight who was speaking as I was reading through the book. In the end, I felt it didn’t matter because I was learning so much about how long it took, and the bumps along the road, to bring this story blazing to life. The quotations themselves had an uncanny knack of putting me right in the thick of things as the cast and crew met the demands of a nearly impossible filming experience. I suppose the only thing I wished it had done better was give me more of the backstory of the wasteland Max and Furiosa inhabit. Perhaps we’ll all get that in more movies in the years to come.

If you are one of the masses who enjoyed “Mad Max: Fury Road,” this book may answer many of those burning questions you’ve had since watching Miller’s spectacle for the first time. Miller’s film has rightly been recognized as one of films greatest achievements. Buchanan has done us all a favor by recording the history of this amazing film. I hope you enjoy going on the journey as much as I did. Time to turn the page!

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