Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (aka Mad Max 3): Third (and Last) Panel in Trilogy

Mad_Max_3_Beyond_Thunderdome_posterArtistically speaking, in my view Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (aka Mad Max 3) is the weakest and least enjoyable of the three movies comprising the trilogy-franchise, which began in 1979.

Co-directed by George Miller and George Ogilvie, and written by Miller and Terry Hayes, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome, the third installment of the ferocious post apocalyptic actioner-adventure, takes place 15 years after the former film, Mad Max: The Road Warrior, and 20 after the original, Mad Max.

Upping the ante, especially in staging and shooting the brutal fight scenes and ferocious battles, obviously benefiting from its substantially larger budget, the movie is overwrought, noisy and busy to a fault–and a bit of a mishmash as far as plot and characterizations are concerned.

When first seen, Max Rockatansky (Gibson), crossing the Australian desert in a camel-drawn wagon, is attacked by Jedediah (Bruce Spence), a pilot, and his son. In the two-generational plot, which also served as a useful marketing and commercial tool, we observe how Jedediah’s son helps his father steal supplies, and flies their plane while his dad procures the goods.

Mad_Max_3_Beyond_Thunderdome_turner_3Unfazed, he continuing on foot, following the trail to the community of Bartertown. Initially rejected–he has nothing to trade–he is later brought before the ruler of Bartertown, Aunty Entity (Tina Turner). The ferocious femme would resupply his vehicle provided that he fulfills a risky function for her, but first he has to prove his mettle (sort of “auditioning”)

Bartertown depends on a crude methane refinery powered by pig feces, which is run by an Odd Couple, Master (Angelo Rossitto), a dwarf, and his huge bodyguard, Master Blaster (Paul Larsson). With her authority challenged, Aunty seeks a confrontation with Blaster in Thunderdome, a gladiatorial arena where conflicts are brutally resolved. Max befriends Pig Killer (Robert Crubb), a convict guilty of slaughtering a pig, and discovers his stolen vehicle. Though strong, Blaster has one weakness–he’s sensitive to high-pitched noises, such as alarms and whistles.

Mad_Max_3_Beyond_Thunderdome_5_gibsonMax captures Blaster but refuses to kill him after realizing that he is  mentally disabled, which enrages Aunty. As a result, Aunty punishes Max for breaking their deal, exiling him–while bound and masked– into the wasteland.  Nearing death, Max is found by Savannah Nix (Helen Brody), who brings him back to her community of children, survivors of a crash and deserted by their parents. Naively, the youngsters believe Max to be the Flight Captain who will fix the plane and fly them to civilization.

Mad_Max_3_Beyond_Thunderdome_2The film’s last one third borrows freely elements of the Lost Boys from Peter Pan. Despite Max’s denial, the children, led by Savannah (their surrogate mother), are determined to find the “Tomorrow-morrow Land.” Max tries to stop them, but Scrooloos (Rod Zuanic) sets them free at night. The tribe’s male leader (and Savannah’s companion) Slake M’Thirst (Tom Jennings) asks Max to go after them, and he finds the whole group in danger; one kid dies in a sand pit. Forced to return to Bartertown, they help free Master and escape in a train-truck, the center of the town’s generator.  The group then meets Jedediah and his son, who are forced into helping the members escape with their plane. Max, having retrieved his vehicle, observes the plane to take off.  Aunty spares his life out of renewed respect, stating “Ain’t we a pair?” before leaving to restore Bartertown.

Mad_Max_3_Beyond_Thunderdome_4_gibsonJedidiah flies the children to the coast, where they discover the ruins of Sydney. Building a new community, made up of lost wanderers, and in the last scene, leader Savannah recites a fable of their journey and the man who saved them. Max, still alive in the desert, is doomed to wander forever.


Mad_Max_3_Beyond_Thunderdome_1Tina Turner was extremely popular at the time. The film’s theme song, Turner’s “We Don’t Need Another Hero (“Thunderdome”) plays over the end credits, and her song “One of the Living” is heard over the opening credits. At the time, Miller said, “We needed someone whose vitality and intelligence would make her control over Bartertown credible. She had to be a positive character rather than a conventional evil bad guy. We had worked on the script with Tina Turner in mind. But we had no idea if she’d be interested.”