Despite the fact that the post-apocalyptic world in Mad Max: Fury Road is about as dystopian as it can get, writer/director George Miller bucked movie trends by not just making everything a bleak shade of grey, as bright colours just continuously pop off the screen in an incredible two-hour long assault on the senses. This vibrant palette – coupled with the film’s absolutely bonkers production design – is one of the reasons why the critically acclaimed action masterpiece stands out in the crowded 2015 blockbuster season.
But according to what Miller told /Film’s Russ Fischer, the movie is apparently even better without all that vibrancy, which is why they will be including a superior black and white cut of the film on Blu Ray.
“We spent a lot of time in DI (digital intermediate), and we had a very fine colorist, Eric Whipp. One thing I’ve noticed is that the default position for everyone is to de-saturate post-apocalyptic movies. There’s only two ways to go, make them black and white — the best version of this movie is black and white, but people reserve that for art movies now. The other version is to really go all-out on the color. The usual teal and orange thing? That’s all the colors we had to work with. The desert’s orange and the sky is teal, and we either could de-saturate it, or crank it up, to differentiate the movie. Plus, it can get really tiring watching this dull, de-saturated color, unless you go all the way out and make it black and white.”
Fischer went on to confirm with Miller that we would actually be seeing this black and white version of the movie.
A while after this talk, during a post-film reception, I spoke with Miller about his affinity for that black and white version of Fury Road. He said that he has demanded a black and white version of Fury Road for the Blu-ray, and that version of the film will feature an option to hear just the isolated score as the only soundtrack — the purest and most stripped-down version of Fury Road you can imagine.
That last bit, about stripping out all the movie’s sound except the score, may sound a bit strange – well, not really considering how sparse Tom Hardy’s dialogue is anyway – but not when you hear Miller explain just how much of an influence silent movies are on his filmmaking.
“I used to live near a drive-in that was on top of a hill. Often going home I wouldn’t drive in, I’d park outside and watch the movies silent. And then I became obsessed with silent movies and realized that the basic syntax of film… Kevin Brownlow basically said that all film language is defined by the silent movies.”
“You’re not slumming in action. You’re trying to use a language that cannot exist in any other medium. You cannot do it in the theatre, you can’t do it live.”
“If you cut it like those [other modern] action movies where everything’s really really fast and it’s an excuse for not respecting space or geography, it’s a kind of visual noise. You want the notes to be clear.”
Dear young up and coming filmmakers, I hope you’re furiously scribbling down notes from this 70-year old master.
Last Updated: May 26, 2015