Blood, Sweat & Chrome: The Wild and True Story of Mad Max: Fury Road by Kyle Buchanan does what it says on the tin. This oral history of the years and years it took to make Mad Max: Fury Road is interesting, comprehensive, and a great read for fans of Mad Max, and movie making in general.
I knew that it had taken George Miller a very long time to get Mad Max: Fury Road made, and I knew that the movie had been storyboarded rather than scripted. I hadn’t realized how many years before shooting ever began that the story was fully formed, nor did I realize how true Miller stayed to the images in the storyboards. Even while he was making Babe: Pig in the City, Happy Feet and Happy Feet Two, he and a team were working on Fury Road.
I was struck over and over that it took the singlemindedness of so many people to get this movie made. Nothing about it was easy. It was in some form of preproduction for over a decade, the shoot was long, dangerous, and grueling. Even while filming was underway, there was no guarantee the funding wouldn’t be pulled. The studio did pull the plug, leaving the film without a beginning or end. Though I have watched the final product mane times, it was stressful reading about the pressure and uncertainty. The fights with the studio lasted until a few months before the film opened.
Sometimes reading the accounts of so many people made it hard to follow the events and the short bursts of text from so many people challenged my ability to keep who did what straight. Where the oral history format really worked was in talking about the relationships between people. The War Boys built a cult. The Wives built a Sisterhood, and Theron and Hardy were sort of on the periphery of those groups without a lot of support.
There are a lot of reasons Mad Max: Fury Road is important to me. Purely as a movie, it is a visceral theater experience that I shared several times with friends. Charlize Theron’s Furiosa was the character I’d been waiting for since Sigorney Weaver’s Ellen Ripley in Aliens (1986). My dad’s reaction to the movie (“too many girls”), made me realize he wasn’t capable of having the relationship I would have liked us to have.
If you are looking for deep philosophical thoughts about Mad Max, this isn’t that book. I’d actually like to read that book someday, or listen to the podcast. I watched Fury Road right before I started reading Blood, Sweat & Chrome and again while I was writing the review. That’s the most movie watching I’ve done since February 2020. It isn’t a perfect movie, but it is amazing. I don’t know that any other director would have gotten this movie made, and it took the committed insanity of hundreds of people to get it done.
I received this as an advance reader copy from NetGalley. My opinions are my own.