“Furiosa" is a rock opera

“Furiosa” is a rock opera

George Miller arrives at a press conference in Cannes with overwhelming critical acclaim for his new chapter saga that he created, developed and expanded for almost half a century: “'Furiosa' is a rock opera,” he explains.
Not bad for someone who, when he arrived in the United States in the 1970s and said he was Australian, was asked if he spoke English and was mistaken for Austrian. George Miller talks about rock opera, because in addition to the blazing guitars, the insistent music and the inexhaustible energy of his stories on the (fury) road inside “Furiosa” there is the tragedy of the opera. The prequel to “Mad Max: Fury Road” is definitely rock, even Adriano Celentano would agree.

However, I beg to differ on the work, because if there is a genre to which “Furiosa” belongs, by right and with pride, it is.that of the epic.

A'epic made of war, sieges, desolation, in which there are no chariots, lances and horses… or rather, yes. Christ Hemsworth's character moves on a triga, a wagon that is however pulled by three motorcycles. There are incendiary spears, hand-to-hand combat, but also a deluge of bullets, warriors who use parachutes to hover from motorcycles to the armored trucks they are assaulting, excavators and mechanical arms that function as battering rams, catapults, walkways.

“Furiosa” doesn't try to break from “Fury Road”, but tries to improve it

AND desolate and apocalyptic Australia which nine years ago was presented to us in a film that was an earthquake for the cinematic imagination. There was a before and after “Fury Road”, who delivered to the collective imagination a one-armed heroine, with engine grease covering her forehead, shaved, determined to give a generation of captive women a new home.

That heroine was called Furiosa, and this is the title of the film that tells us about her past. It is the first chapter of the “Mad Max” saga that does not break with its predecessors, on a visual, chronological and narrative level. It is a deviation from the “fury road” but never completely abandons the main road. For this reason “Furiosa” will not have the disruptive and destructive impact of “Fury Road” on our imagination, because its goal is to broaden, deepen, not make a clean sweep.

It doesn't mean that “Furiosa” is a bad film, on the contrary: it is a grandiose epic, which achieves two almost impossible goals. The first is that of tell us the past of a taciturn character partly shrouded in mystery like Furiosa, hitting a whole series of obligatory steps (the loss of the arm, the shaving of the hair). Miller has an enviable inspiration when it comes to this protagonist, her taciturn vigilante seeking revenge: Furiosa's origin story is never thought of in hindsight, even when she is.

The exceptional nature of her character and person is already evident in the prologue which sees her as a child kidnapped from her home. “Furiosa” integrates the revelations about how she became the person we already know with unpublished parts of her experience, in a natural, organic, without looking for the moment of revelation. Upon closer inspection, the mystery remains, because the film chases her from her Eden before telling us about it, focusing on how living in a world of bad teachers and cruel surrogate fathers shapes and transforms her. There is already the long shadow of Immortan Joe on her destiny, but it is her relationship with Dementus (Chris Hemsworth) that raises and shapes her, for better but almost always for worse.

Not only is Furiosa's past up to the level of the character we know and does not “ruin” or reduce it, but in its most successful passages the film released in theaters a decade ago also risks improving, as a consequence. A huge achievement, considering that in the second half of the film, just like in “Fury Road”, the story runs out of fuel and Miller only moves forward with movements, images, primary colors.

“Furiosa” is cinema written and directed by those who grew up in cinemas

It's not a flaw, on the contrary. It's the quality of his cinema, which he often sacrifices the story and the explanations to pure movement, to the violence of the image. As in “Fury Road”, at one point Furiosa is reduced to wandering from one point to another in the Wastelands, driving armored trucks and killing pursuers. A premise that sounds very boring, while watching the film is the most exhilarating you can imagine. Miller lets himself be guided by his instinct for movement, action, limiting himself to recall the topos at the basis of the human story, from the dawn of time. A lost Eden and a crucifixion from the Bible, a siege and a deception that opens the doors of a city from the Iliad, but also the cinematic epic, which starts from the inevitable Akira Kurosawa and reaches Miller himself, who here takes off his whim of self-quoting a couple of times.

He can do so well, having achieved a second very difficult goal: not to disfigure himself in direct comparison with what is considered his masterpiece, expanding its epic, without ruining its internal balance, coherence and logic.

“Furiosa” is also the last bastion of a cinema made by those who grew up where there were only three places in the lives of children: the school, the church, the cinema. Miller said it: “When I make films I feel the same feeling as when, as a boy, I left the theater and played with my friends, re-enacting what we had seen on the big screen”. Those games were the training ground for him to be a director and narrator.

Miller is now 79 years old and is considered a great master, perhaps the most rock, least combed one. One of the last formed without home video, without television at home, without cinema within reach and clickwith a visceral relationship with the theater, which creates and shoots films that have their natural home on the big screen.

Who knows if in the future, when the masters will be those who grew up with the constant, instantaneous, homemade availability of cinema, someone will be able to create an epic saga like “Mad Max”, to create an epochal film like “Fury Road” and not to disfigure himself nine years later by narrating the background.