With Charlize Theron taking the driver’s seat and pressing hard on the gas, her character Imperator Furiosa is a strong example of a female lead within contemporary films (I know there has been much discussion about her character so don’t be arming your guitars with flamethrowers just yet). When discussing Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome with Anne Bilson 30 years ago (how has this interview just been released?), Miller expressed, in a thought provoking manner, whether he thought there could ever be a female version of Mad Max.
Here is what he was quoted as saying, “I thought a lot about that. I think there’s no question about it. I still can’t figure out sexuality; I mean it’s such a big mystery to us all. It’s like violence and aggression, it’s something we try to understand with our heads, our intellect, but they’re really to do much more with the instinctual side of us. It’s old brain versus new brain, you know“.
“So dealing with something like sexuality and women… If you’re talking about it in conventional mythology, being nothing fancy, just simple storytelling, if you look at stories like Beauty and the Beast, which is a myth that was very common – you know, King Kong, right up to the fifties – and then I guess they invented the pill and abortion and a freer sexuality, and a certain liberation of women, which most of us agree was long overdue“.
“The Beauty and the Beast story is no longer a viable one in society, because women aren’t as mystified – they’re much more people than they are mystical. Yet women are still sex objects, yet they’re not demystified sex objects. And yet we have more women artists, women this and there are women that, so it seems clear that you can have a female hero. [But] historically there haven’t been very many“.
Bear in mind that this article was 30 years ago, but it appears that George Miller still had his lingering thoughts about a female lead and finally brought it to the big screen recently with the hugely successful Mad Max: Fury Road.