Miller and Max is the story of two heroes. One, a leather jacket-clad road warrior whose adventures in a dystopian future have made an indelible imprint on global popular culture. The second, the artist who created him: a softly spoken son of Greek and Turkish immigrants, whose life charts a spectacular course from a tiny Queensland town in Australia, to the highest echelons of Hollywood.
In a sense the two men’s personalities could not be more different. Max Rockatansky is ravaged by personal demons and intolerant of others: an impetuous, bitter, violent loner. George Miller is patient, collaborative and a perfectionist: a filmmaker with big visions and slow, meticulous turn around times. He’s also a qualified doctor with experience working in hospital emergency wards.
George Miller made his first film, Mad Max, in 1976 after raising $300,000 from family and friends and hiring a no-name actor, Mel Gibson. Some of his team would be paid in slabs of beer. Edited in his kitchen at home, the film would go on to gross more than $100 million worldwide, and become the most profitable film ever made, a title it kept for over two decades.
Miller would go on to make three more Mad Max films over three and a half decades, culminating in Fury Road in 2015, which against all odds, won a record-breaking six Academy Awards – the largest haul of an Australian film in history. In between times, with success and failure in Hollywood, from Babe to Happy Feet and more, Miller’s quiet determination and audacious filmmaking is never more apparent than in the Mad Max universe.
Written by Luke Buckmaster with the cooperation of a role-call of cast, crew, family and associates, Miller and Max gets behind the scenes and on set, as well as behind Miller’s sensible-sounding camouflage to reveal what’s really inside the man – which is more than a little Max Rockatansky. Both forces seem to come out of nowhere; both remain to this day huge forces in the zeitgeist and are truly heroes of our time.
“An insightful, brilliantly researched and absolutely riveting account of an Australian icon and the filmmaker who created him.” – Margaret Pomeranz
Luke Buckmaster is The Guardian Australia‘s film critic. He also writes regularly for Daily Review, BBC Culture and ABC’s The Drum as well as appearing on ABC’s iViews screen arts show, The Critics. He has been writing extensively about cinema for two decades, including for the Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and Filmink Magazine, as well as winning the Australian Film Critics Association’s writing award in 2010 for his review of I’m Still Here. As part of his work for The Guardian he wrote a column on classic Australian films, published every week for 106 consecutive weeks. Buckmaster’s Miller and Max is a revelatory biography of a piece of film history.
Image: Miller and Max – courtesy of Hardie Grant Books