The Compassion of Mad Max

Perhaps the most spectacular thing about a non-stop action film with almost no dialogue is that it is so emotional. In a fit of masterful storytelling, the film offers no background to its characters or its plot, throwing you right into the thick of it from the start with a rapid-fire introductory sequence that is terrifying in its suspense, jolting in its sensory overload, and, yet, surprisingly reliant on the sophistication of the modern viewer to piece together a bunch of images into an understanding of a character’s backstory.

This style continues throughout the film, whose mesmerising action sequences are punctuated by only a few sequences of dialogue, but whose plot is really moved forward by facial expressions. In a moment of true despair, faced with the bleak realisation that all efforts have come to naught, there is no sombre monologue; there is only a tremulous solitariness, an evacuation of energy, a shock of the most profound order – all evident in the slight slackness of a face drawn tight by a lifetime of fighting, in the slight weakening of legs constantly on the run, and a small shimmer in eyes hardened by ferocity.

Through its silence, the film relies on the experience of the viewer to recognise in another person the magnitude of human emotion they have themselves felt at some point in their lives – it is a paragon of compassionate storytelling, hidden amidst a high-octane world of frighteningly ghoulish kings and starkly beautiful life-affirming princesses fighting for their lives in what is truly the benchmark for all action films.

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