The Best Old Movies on a Big Screen This Week: NYC Repertory Cinema Picks, May 25-31

MAD MAX BEYOND THUNDERDOME, Tina Turner, 1985, (c) Warner Brothers

Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome (1985)
Directed by George Miller and George Ogilvie
The black-sheep status of the third entry in Miller’s Mad Max series was only solidified by the near-unanimous rapture that greeted Mad Max: Fury Road last year. But if that and The Road Warrior (1981), the quartet’s most celebrated entries, are essentially feature-length chase films, its arid futuristic settings as rough-and-tumble as the elaborate action sequences, Beyond Thunderdome announces itself as something quite different from the beginning. There’s a greater sense of world-building in its richer variety of production design, more peaks and valleys in its plotting, a more exhilarating feeling of embarking on an epic journey in Maurice Jarre’s sweeping orchestral score and Dean Semler’s lustrous cinematographic canvases. In its no-holds-barred imaginative freedom, it is to the Mad Max franchise what the feverishly extravagant Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom is to the Indiana Jones series—but instead of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas’s sadism, Miller and Ogilvie instill a child-like measure of hope and the possibility of redemption to a dystopian environment previously bereft of it. Mad Max chronicled the death of Max Rockatansky’s (Mel Gibson) soul; Beyond Thunderdome dares to bring some of it back, with disarming sincerity. If such heart-on-sleeve innocence doesn’t do it for you, well, at least there’s Max’s battle with the Blaster in Thunderdome, still one of the all-time great action set pieces. Kenji Fujishima (May 29, 2pm at the Museum of the Moving Image’s Mad Max weekend)


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