Archetypes: Film: Review: ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’ (2015)

Warner Bros.

Warner Bros.

At the beginning of the movie Guardians of the Galaxy, Peter “Star Lord” Quill (Chris Pratt) spots and snatches a lizard, and then uses it to simulate a microphone. In the first moments of Max Max: Fury Road, Max Rockatansky (Tom Hardy), eyes a two-headed one and gobbles it whole, the creatures’ tail, in a parting gesture, wiggling in the wind. Just as the Mayans prophesied, this is life seriously out of balance.

The figure responsible for mercilessly upheaving the equilibrium in this post-apocalyptic desert terrain is Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne), a powerful warlord – he’s more like an assemblage of parts that cover up his ravaged body – who presides over the Citadel. The cliffside pulleys-and-chains fortress, which houses war boys who do his bidding, sits upon a water source which Joe rations to the drum-beating boy-slave population, while he and the higher ups guzzle breast milk, courtesy of his captive baby-making breeder-wives.

Max is quickly snatched up by Joe’s soldiers and taken to the Citadel where he’s chained, masked with iron and used, commodity style, as a universal blood donor. While he’s imprisoned, one of Joe’s most trusted Imperators, Furiosa (Charlize Theron), has rescued five of the wives, driving away with them in one of the compound’s oil rigs.

As soon as Joe learns of her betrayal, he’s off to bring back his wifely treasures, taking with him the avid but injured war boy Nux (Nicholas Hoult), who’s badly in need of chapstick, as well as blood-bag Max, who’s transported to battle, perched like a frightening Helen-of-Troy-like grille ornament.

Warner Bros.

Warner Bros.

Max, Furiosa and the women are thrown together in this visually stunning stream of non-stop surface and airborne warfare. Their male and female energies must somehow coalesce, in some semblance of Venusian relationship, to escape from the marauders. If you blink, you risk missing every critical bit of spectacularly conceived mayhem co-written and directed by George Miller.

Mad Max: Fury Road is archetypally rich, with Furiosa and Max performing equally as daring (Mars), courageous (Mars), revolutionary (Uranus) and visionary (Neptune) leaders (Sun), with the region’s canyon pass serving as a critical Mercurial conduit leading to both potential redemption and hell.

However, the dominant archetype here is tied to Pluto, whose bailiwick is absolute control, power, manipulation and sex, all personified by Joe. Also well represented is the transformative nature of the archetype – the dead phoenix rising from the ashes – which is carried by Nux. Nux, desperate to give his life for the cause in exchange for a ticket to Valhalla, keeps reciting his mantra of “I live, I die, I live again.” His wish parallels both Furiosa’s, who seeks redemption of her own, and Max’s who, fueled by his inability to protect and save his family, is seeking his better self.

“You will ride eternal, shiny and chrome,” Joe promises Nux. I felt the same way after consuming this film.

Archetype: Loner. Leader. Survivor. Soldier. Tyrant.

Astrology Archetype: ♇ (Pluto)

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