Miller and Max, as the title suggests, is the story of director George Miller and the four Mad Max films he has directed over a period of almost forty years. Given this length of time, there’s a lot of information to cram in, but author Luke Buckmaster (a name certainly worthy of one of the films) chooses carefully and wisely what to include, producing a book that buckles the reader into the passenger seat from the very first page.
When Mad Max appeared on screens in the late seventies, an icon was born. The filmmakers didn’t know it at the time and – along with discussing Miller’s formative years – Buckmaster reveals the doubts and apprehensions of almost everyone involved, the struggle to find finance for a film that would ultimately be the most profitable movie for two decades. The book tells of behind-the-scenes antics, frustrations, and broken bones from a lack of health and safety; stories that are a mixture of shock, amusement, or sometimes both.
Success generates sequels and, while there’s much more discipline involved, there’s still plenty to tell. Buckmaster discusses Road Warrior, Beyond Thunderdome and Fury Road with equal enthusiasm, although there’s a sense that the first movie is his biggest love, and of those he’s interviewed. That’s not to belittle the writing, which remains enthralling throughout, but who wouldn’t be ferociously proud of such a debut? Episodes recounted range from the practical to the mystical, court cases regarding pigs, and an eye-opening method to ‘distress’ a set.
Throughout, Buckmaster allows his interview subjects to express their true thoughts, while he himself offers no bias and never tells the reader what to think. He presents facts fairly, allowing us to make our own judgements towards both people and their situations, and has put together the pieces of several true stories to create a cohesive whole, a book that rockets along at a pace matching that of the films it discusses. While it’s an in-depth read, it’s over all too quickly; we can’t help wondering if there’s more to tell – given the amount of research and the number of interviews the author has conducted, this would seem to be the case – and some may find themselves hungry to know more about Miller and his movies.
MILLER AND MAX: GEORGE MILLER AND THE MAKING OF A FILM LEGEND / AUTHOR: LUKE BUCKMASTER / PUBLISHER: HARDIE GRANT BOOKS / RELEASE DATE: OUT NOW