Mad Max: Fury Road

Inciting Event: Furiosa takes a turn from her expected route to drive the War Rig full of water, women and “guzzoline” in a different direction. Immortan Joe gathers his forces and pursues, with Mad Max Rockatansky, enslaved as a “blood bag” because he is a universal blood donor, mounted on the prow of the War Boy Nux’s pursuit vehicle. A sand storm lies between Furiosa and escape.

First Plot Point: Passing through the sand storm, Nux’s vehicle is destroyed and because they are chained together Max hauls him towards the War Rig, intent on stealing it from Furiosa. He sees the real prize, Immortan Joe’s “wives”, but he just sees them as obstacles to his theft and escape. Furiosa’s kill switch prevents him from stealing the War Rig, so he reluctantly agrees to escape together with Furiosa and the other women: the Splendid Angharad, Capable, Toast the Knowing, The Dag, Cheedo the Fragile. The chain with Nux is cut away but Nux pursues on foot.

First Pinch Point: Furiosa drives to the mountain pass where she has an agreement with a biker gang to collapse the passage in exchange for the tank full of gasoline. She promised to be alone without pursuit, but they can see three war bands coming their way. A fight breaks out and Furiosa depends on Max to drive them out of there. The biker gang destroys the pass to block Joe’s army temporarily, but attack the War Rig as Furiosa attempts to escape without paying them.

Midpoint: Immortan Joe’s army catches up after Nux hops aboard and pulls a hydraulic fluid line to slow down the War Rig. One of the wives, the Splendid Angharad, pregnant with Joe’s child, falls out and is run over by Joe’s vehicle. Nux realizes his failure would make him “mediocre” to Joe, putting his self-worth into question, not allowed to enter Joe’s promised afterlife in Valhalla. As Joe stops to mourn Splendid and try saving their child, the War Rig escapes. Furiosa explains to Max they are escaping to the Green Place, where she grew up and was stolen from as a child, where women were free. Capable approaches the despairing Nux, comforts him and they form a bond.

Second Pinch Point: Joe’s ally the Bullet Farmer pursues with his own army without Joe. At night when the War Rig comes to a wetter place it is stuck in the mud just as the Bullet Farmer catches up. Nux helps to free the truck while Max and Furiosa fight the army. Max attempts to shoot the Bullet Farmer’s search light but misaims; he hands the rifle to Furiosa who aims true, shooting the Bullet Farmer in the eyes, who is now blindly shooting, intent on killing everyone, even the wives. Nux says one of the engines is down and needs to be cooled so he can get it working. Max’s growing respect for Furiosa leads him to attack the Bullet Farmer on his own, telling Furiosa to drive further on and leave him if he’s not back by the time the engine cools. Max slaughters the Bullet Farmer’s army and comes back with a cache of weapons and bullets.

Third Plot Point: Furiosa recognizes a landmark and calls out to those she knows are watching. It’s several women on motorbikes, the Vuvalini, those from her clan who lived with her at the Green Place. The Dag learns of the seeds the Vuvalini carry in hopes of growing crops some day. Furiosa discovers from them the swampy land where the truck got stuck was the Green Place, but it is contaminated and drying up. Furiosa despairs. But they have water for 160 days. Furiosa decides to lead a convoy across the wasteland in search of somewhere else, but Max stays behind, initially deciding he rather survive on his own. After a flash of memory back to what he lost and failed to protect, he chases and stops the convoy and convinces Furiosa a trip across the wasteland is a hopeless plan and it would be better to fix the real problem: Go back and take over the Citadel they escaped from with the help of the Vuvalini, because it has lots of clean water and greenery which they can use to build a life, and also save all those enslaved by Joe. Max agrees to fight with them.

Climax: The War Rig passes Joe’s army and they pursue them back towards the pass. Toast the Knowing is captured, many of the Vuvalini are killed, Furiosa is stabbed, but Cheedo pretends to give herself up to help while Furiosa manages to kill Immortan Joe. The Dag saves the cache of seeds. Nux realizes he won’t make it, so sacrifices his life to kill Joe’s son Rictus and cut off pursuit by destroying the War Rig and exploding the gasoline in order to bring down the pass and block it. Max, Furiosa and the others drive off in Joe’s vehicle safely.

Climactic Moment: Furiosa is dying. Max recognizes she’s the leader the Citadel needs to live in freedom. Max gives Furiosa a blood transfusion to save her life.

Resolution: The people at the Citadel see Joe’s dead body and realize he’s not immortal after all. They chant Furiosa’s name as she releases water to quench their thirst. With Furiosa fully in charge, Max slips away into the crowd.

Notes: This story is far more subtle than most realize. The key to understanding it is knowing it’s about a man and a woman growing a non-romantic relationship built on trust and mutual respect. Max is not a side-character as some people think. Max is the main character of the emotional journey. He changes the most, and does in critical ways to affect the story at the end of each act. Furiosa is the protagonist of the physical journey, but also the Impact Character that pushes Max to change. He changes from a man focused on his own survival alone, to one agreeing to escape together, to one willing to fight their enemies and let his allies escape without him, to one willing to propose a better plan and help see it through to the end. Furiosa and Max grow to respect and trust each other simply by observing each other’s actions. Once Max has Furiosa’s trust, after discovering the Green Place is no longer a viable option, she is willing to trust his judgment and listen to a new plan to return the Citadel, solving their problems instead of fleeing from it. Max in turn becomes so respecting of Furiosa that he sacrifices his own blood to save her life in the climatic moment. The story is about their relationship, and what mutual respect and trust can do to build to create a free society. When people call this a feminist film, it not about hating men or attacking men. The feminism is about both the theme of respect and trust between man and woman, and how that heals both.

(Submitted by Rocky Persaud.)

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