Johnny Milner takes a closer listen to the soundscape of Mad Max and Mad Max 2, highlighting the film scores of composer Brian May.
Music vs Sound
The Mad Max franchise has made a significant mark on our cultural landscape. The films blend elements of Australian culture and geography with universal themes, such as good overcoming evil, and resonate with some of the most poignant anxieties of our time: resource exploitation, societal breakdown and the devastating impacts of car culture. Stylistically, they transcend typical Australian filmmaking formulas through punk-influenced aesthetics and a unique approach to rhythmic editing and camera movement.
The films, however, also 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.