The focus is on the enormous impact of the George Miller film, Mad Max.
The book is a behind the scenes look at the development of the idea, its journey to the screen and the consequent popularity of the Max franchise.
While the book can be read at that level alone and be a very satisfying read, there is another and arguably bigger debate that it raises. This is the relationship between film and behaviour. Unexpected as it may have been when the film was first screened, it has continued to be a matter of discussion.
The research the book calls upon is outstanding. We have a sense that we are party to the conversations on the development of the film. As Mad Max has become a cultural icon and benchmark in Australian cinema history, the book has importance. But it is also about the star, Mel Gibson and the working relationship with Miller.
The controversy surrounding the film and its emphasis on violence, curiously much of it occurs off screen, is summarised by the quotation of reviews and the outrage many reviewers felt. To say the film had a difficult journey from script to screen is to put it mildly.
Still, regardless of what the critics felt about its “brutal brilliance” audiences loved it. The way the film transitioned to become a popular favourite may tell us something about the society we live in or just that action films are popular. The book explores this.
There are coloured photographs of the cars and stars and also the actual set of the movies. Petrol and dust reeks from the pages. Part biography, part film analysis and part a study in controversy, this is a book with unusually wide appeal.