The devotion of Warner Archive to the full gamut of films and television from the sublime to the ridiculous (and the ridiculously sublime) makes its June 25, 2019 DVD release of the 2015 documentary "The Madness of Max" a perfect addition to the Archive catalog. This epic 157-minute film is a raucous detailed homage to the 1979 cult-classic "Mad Max." As "Madness" states a few times, several have tried to emulated that post-apocalyptic action-adventure film but have not matched it.
Much of the fun of "Madness" includes filmmakers Gary McFeat and Tim Ridge bringing "Max" star Mel Gibson and the rest of the band back together. This includes the "roadies" including writer/director George Miller. Writer/producer Byron Kennedy died in an accident on July 17, 1983 but is represented in archival interviews and by his parents.
A related note is that McFeat effectively takes an almost pure cinema-verite approach to his subject. He lets his "cast of thousands" directly tell their stories, interspersed with film clips and behind-the-scenes footage. The overall effective is of an exceptionally detailed audio-commentary of "Max."
The bigger picture this time is that "Madness" chronicles the making of a film from concept, to revised concept, to production, to release, to the response of critics and the general public, to the legacy of the movie.
Both of our stories begin with Miller and Kenendy telling how personal experience inspires the original concept of a film about things getting personal for a present-day cop; this leads to the idea of enhancing the story and setting in an not-too-distant post-apocalyptic future. Ironically, the rest is history.
Although Gibson offers a significant amount of insight. "Madness" shares the wealth regarding the focus on the cast. One of the more interesting stories is the strong cred. of Hugh Kaays-Byrne (who appears in "Madness"), who plays crazed nemesis Toecutter.
Much of "Madness" focuses on the Dartmouth fratboy attitude that permeates the actual making of the film; we see how Byrne and the actors who play his biker gang fully go method to a scary extent. Highlight (no pun intended) include pinning real human hair to threatening notes and using blood as an ink to express their feelings about "The Bronze," aka the pigs.
One of the most insightful comments refers to the tremendous fun of watching the cast and the crew create exhilarating special effects on a high-school musical budget. The relevant remark is that most movies get to do 32 takes when filming a scene, and that "Max" gets one bite at the apple. This relates to the memory of the 32 takes coming while writing the script, which includes every camera angle.
One of the best stories in "Madness" ties together every great element of both that documentary and its subject. We hear the full story of the filming of a scene involving a rocket car. This includes both the lesson that it never hurts to ask and insight regarding the fallout from a stunt gone wrong.
We subsequently hear about how an angel at Warner International helps "Max" reach a wide audience; this leads to an awesome reminder that spreading the word about the latest cool thing does not require social media. A related note is the amusing reminder that a restrictive film rating can be interpreted as a guarantee of the true gen.
The fun wraps up with the supporting cast telling of fans still approaching them about "Max." Their embracing such contacts reinforces that they had the time of their lives making the film.
The fun for fans of "Max" and even folks who have never seen it extends beyond sharing in the glee of the product of guys gone wild; we get a great reminder of what can happen when actors fully check their egos at the door and will VOLUNTEER to do everything necessary to make the movie. This is not to mention that producing good effects requires more brains than bucks and is possible without the benefit of CGI. Old-school folks know that live always is better than Memorex.