Miller still a playful child at heart

Furiosa director on the joys of technology, creating legends and eternal curiosity

by Richard Mowe

Chris Hemsworth, George Miller, Anya Taylor-Joy in Cannes
Chris Hemsworth, George Miller, Anya Taylor-Joy in Cannes Photo: Richard Mowe
Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, the latest entry in the 45-year-old Mad Max franchise revved up and went full throttle for its starry premiere out of competition last night at the Cannes Film Festival with a global release set for 23 May.

Will this prequel (recipient of a six-minute standing ovation) be able to emulate the success of 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road with Charlize Theron whose character of Furiosa now is taken over by Anya Taylor-Joy?

Anya-Taylor Joy in Cannes
Anya-Taylor Joy in Cannes Photo: Richard Mowe
Miller faced the media today in the company of his actors Taylor-Joy, Tom Burke and Chris Hemsworth and his loyal producer Doug Mitchell. After the frenzied launch yesterday, he hopes for box office hit, not least for the sake of the film company Warner Bros who invested heavily in the project with a budget of $168 million. At its height the production had a crew of about 1300 participants, two units several thousand miles apart, and a stunt department of some 164 fearless souls. Additional financial benefits accrued from the Australian Government in the way of tax credits.

It was shot in the desert-scapes of New South Wales and Queensland where Miller grew up in a rural town. “There was no TV or internet, just school, comics and the Saturday matinee. The movie theatre in town was like a secular cathedral where we would go to see a cartoon, a newsreel, a serial and two features. And the rest of the time my brothers and I were lucky enough to have to time to play. That consisted of acting out things we had seen in the movies. And I think I am doing a very similar thing today. I guess I am hardwired to tell stories. Cinema is always evolving and I cannot help but get caught up in it.”

Miller’s appetite for such spectacle shows no sign of waning any time soon. “One thing you can say about cinema is that it is always evolving and changing, particularly in regard to technology. I started in the analogue era but I was lucky enough to be making films at the start of the digital revolution which made the process quite different.

Christ Hemsworth in Cannes
Christ Hemsworth in Cannes Photo: Richard Mowe
“One of the vectors which drives my filmmaking is that it is the story above all else and then it is what tools are available to enable us to do this. It is really interesting that although it is only nine years, the tools we used on Furiosa were quite different and more advanced and no doubt in the years to come that will change too. That is one of the fascinations about the process.”

Originally Miler believed he might make two Mad Max films at most. “Now I am on my fifth. I am driven by my curiosity so each story has to be different. There is a marked difference in this one in which basically a child grows into mythic warrior.”

The filmmakers only put the final finishing touches to the edit two and a half weeks ago before heading to Cannes. In the circumstances Miller declares it is too early to say whether the saga continues. “There are other stories there and we wrote a lot because we had to know the back story of Furiosa but I will wait to see how this goes before I even contemplating a sixth one.” Miller, though, as his track record testifies clearly is a director who will never say never.

George Miller and Anya-Taylor Joy
George Miller and Anya-Taylor Joy Photo: Richard Mowe

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