Like much of the dialog in “Mad Max: Fury Road,” just give Nux’s famous quotable line, “If I’m gonna die, I’m gonna die historic on the fury road” a little twist, and it’s the beginning of a epic poem about the 300 at Thermopylae. Surely those few Spartan soldiers were thinking thoughts similar to Nux.
It could be the start of a Viking saga. With no effort whatsoever I can visualize a Viking chieftain shouting to his comrades, “Let us die historic on the fury road!” And yes, of course it would be a Roman general’s cry as they prepare for the Carthaginian onslaught.
The language of Fury Road is epic. The names and titles alone look back to a glorious, warrior’s past. Immortan Joe (I love the little stutter that “Immortan” gives the name – so much more memorable than Immortal Joe), Imperator Furiosa. War boys. Perfect descriptions as well as words that roll pleasingly off the tongue as surely as Beowulf.
This is part of what makes what should have been at most an entertaining B-movie into a work of genius. Few words are spoken, but those that are, hit the ear as poetry. The sheer absurdity of Immortan Joe’s lines admonishing his deformed and dying people are all the more powerful for their lyricism. “Do not, my friends, become addicted to water. It will take hold of you, and you will resent its absence!”
Nux is a great, heart-breaking tragic hero, and appropriately he gets some of the best, most visceral lines. He does not die historic on the fury road, instead, with his sacrifice he opens the gate to the future, and I can but hope that the “future histories” give him the Valhalla he richly deserves.
So much of this movie’s slender dialog is quotable I imagine that much love and attention went into the crafting of this improbable, rapturous language. Careful thought had to be given to Max’s position as a “blood bag,” to bullets as “anti-seed,” the brides as “treasures” and finally, “assets.” I hear it and am reminded of the sonnets in Dead Wood and the brilliant, nearly impenetrable, text of Clockwork Orange.
Movies are a visual medium – it’s a genuine pleasure to find one that acknowledges poetry as well.
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