Mad Max: Musical Motifs

Mad Max: Musical Motifs
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The Mad Max films include some of the most compelling music on Australian celluloid.

The music not only provides emotional resonances to specific scenes and helps clarify filmic meaning, but it also functions on spatial, temporal and psychological levels.

Moreover, it interacts with a distinctive soundscape, a high-octane sonic environment, characterised by (among other things) the sounds of V8 engines, diesel motors, sirens, radio transmission and burning rubber.

At times the score mimics these sound effects; at other times it replaces them, making us contemplate the very distinction between music and sound.

This clip from Mad Max (George Miller, 1979) features the notable scene where Max’s wife Jessie (Joanne Samuel) and child (Brendan Heath) are run down on the highway by the gang.

Here, the score showcases many of the musical motifs found throughout the franchise: the motorcycle gang theme, signified by the timpani and descending low brass; Max’s theme, represented by French horn; and the car action sequences, accompanied by rushing strings and discordant brass.

Read more about composer Brian May's music for Mad Max.