This is a transcript of an excerpt about George Miller and the making of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, featured in the Australians in Hollywood exhibition at the NFSA, 2022.
November the 25th, 1984, the heart of the Australian wasteland. Forty-eight degrees Celsius, 120 degrees Fahrenheit. Nine people pass out from heat exhaustion. The wind rises, carrying with it a dust storm 6,000 feet high and 100 miles wide. In its path – 18 actors and 130 members of a film crew trying to make a movie.
George Miller (co-director):
Tina Turner (Aunty Entity):
It's like a dream that I had years ago of what movies were like. I mean, all of the vans here and the people in their hats and the cameras, and now this is show business to me, more so than singing. That's what the excitement is, and when those cars drive into a little town like Coober Pedy, it's like this was coming to Nutbush. It's like – ah!
Mel Gibson (Max):
She was a little nervous to start with. I mean, it was, it would be like someone saying to me, sort of get up and do a concert, you know. I mean, I'd be nervous.
I could beckon to one of the guards to bring him to me.
Yeah. Yeah. Would you come forward if she beckoned you? Just try... see how it plays. Try it again.
Tina Turner (in character):
Look around, mister. All this I built. Where there was desert, now there's a town. Where there was robbery, there's trade. Where there was despair, now there's hope. Welcome to another edition of Thunderdome.
I'll aim it between, like, at that point there.
George Ogilvie (co-director):
Mel is an actor who not only does his homework, but also enjoys the idea of spontaneous things happening in rehearsal. Allowing something to happen.
Do you find this sort of thing sloppy, George? Do you find like bang-bang-bang sloppy?
Yeah, I just think one.
What I received from Mel was the chance to observe him as an actor and learn from it. To actually see him transform Mel Gibson into Mad Max. It was really quite amazing.
You need a very good stunt, but it's the shots that lead up to it that give you the illusion of something happening. That's probably more important.
When I found out I got a chance to drive the cars and all of a sudden it all came alive. And it was nothing, I mean, George thought that I couldn't drive it and it was just a matter of, of course, you know, this is my car.
Before it is finished, the movie will have consumed millions of dollars, hundreds of thousands of man hours, 370,000 feet of film, 59 pounds of garlic and over 230,000 polystyrene cups. All of this just to turn words into pictures.