The Dinglehopper

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Earthling Cinema Examines ‘Mad Max: Fury Road’

Hooray for Earthling Cinema for taking on the very recent 6 Academy Award-winning Mad Max: Fury Road. As is their usual pattern, the first part of their look walks through the plot of the film in humorous ways, often hitting on keen insights pitted within mistaken assumptions about a long dead (to them) culture.

Then they get into the meaning-making, exploring the film as part of the Dieselpunk genre and then digging into the objectification of women and men in the Wasteland. As always, the short video leaves the viewer feeling entertained and edified.


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Mad Max: Fury Road in Shiny Black and Chrome

Do you remember when Mad Max: Fury Road came out? I do. It was pretty much the last thing we did before our second child demanded to be witnessed. The following week is a bit of a blur. There was a tiny human being. Lots of yawning. And articles about the movie.

If I tried to do anything else, like, say, read a book, the tiny human being declared le fin du monde. As long as I read about Fury Road on my smartphone everything was okay. Good times, really.

c'est joli n'est-ce pas

One of the most exciting things I remember reading is this article at /Film. Here’s the relevant bit:

A while after this talk, during a post-film reception, I spoke with Miller about his affinity for that black and white version of Fury Road. He said that he has demanded a black and white version of Fury Road for the blu-ray, and that version of the film will feature an option to hear just the isolated score as the only soundtrack — the purest and most stripped-down version of Fury Road you can imagine.

We’ve known for awhile that this actually wasn’t going to happen. As soon as the option to pre-order was available, folks decried the relatively standard set of bonus features. Because that version of the film exists. For whatever reason, Warner Bros. refused to release it.

Black and Chrome

Unlike most of us, one blogger has taken action. The individual behind Mad Max: Black and Chrome has painstakingly created the best possible approximation of what should have been. It looks like the edit preserves tonal range, shadows, and highlights rather than simply being desaturated. The artist provides the following explanation and disclaimer.

George Miller has said that the best version of his film is in black and white, with no dialogue. BLACK & CHROME is an attempt to realize Miller’s alternate vision. The cinematography, the editing, the sound design, and the score, are now represented in a completely new experience.

I do not own the rights to this video. All rights belong to its rightful owner/owners. No copyright infringement intended. This is merely an exercise and study of the art of filmmaking.

The exercise includes the soundtrack without dialogue. In places it’s just fantastic. In others, it showcases the craft the actors brought to bear amidst the chaos. Well worth the watch.

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Mad Max Monday: Madventure Time


THE KING by Ryan May

Mad Max: Fury Road was released for digital download last week, and of course we got it, but also, of course, we haven’t had a chance to rewatch it due to toddler illness and infant infantileness. However, the download sparked our excitement for the film again, and when “Madventure Time” crossed my path, I was primed to enjoy the heck out of it.

“Madventure Time” was animated by Egor Zhgun, who was inspired by the Fury Road-Adventure Time mash-up art done by Ryan May. Taking the mash-up ideas of May and adjusting the art for animation ever-so-slightly, Zhgun remade the Fury Road trailer with the beloved Adventure Time characters. The result is an odd-ball mix of tones that I’m sure both George Miller and Pendleton Ward would be proud of.

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Mad Max Monday: ‘Road Wars’ Fury Road/Star Wars Mash-up

I’ll say it again–the one skill I wish I had, besides being able to snake my own drain, is being able to edit video. Alas, that’ll have to wait a few years. Until then, I’m grateful for the myriad geeks out there who do have this skill and put it towards making awesome recombinatory videos. (Recombinatory culture is the academic phrase for something like a mash-up that combines two or more different cultural elements.)


In “Road Wars: The Imperator Strikes Back,” Krishna Shenoi, a 20-year old movie-maker, poses the question: What if Mad Max: Fury Road took place in the Star Wars Universe? In short, the answer is: It would be an awesome excuse to return to Tatooine.

Not merely a mash-up of the two trailers, Shenoi has actually digitally spliced aspects of Star Wars–sound effects, lightsabers, ships, moons, the Death Star–into scenes from Fury Road. It works surprisingly well.


‘Mad Max: Fury Road’: Another Modern Fisher King Myth, Part 4: The Hallows

Not all contemporary Fisher King stories fold in the four hallows from the feast procession, but Mad Max: Fury Road does. In the classic Fisher King tale, the Grail Knight finds the Grail Castle and goes inside to find a feast taking place. As part of that feast, there is a grand procession that features four sacred hallows. You know what a hallow is thanks to Harry Potter. These are sacred objects, perhaps with magical properties, and, in this case, all have a part to play in the Fisher King’s injury or healing.

Since the Fisher King myth is all about fertility, two of the hallows have phallic shape two have yonic. The masculine hallows are the spear and the lance. The spear is a tool to break the curse. The lance is often the weapon that injured the King, but it’s also crucial to his release/healing/death. The feminine hallows are the dish and the grail. The dish will take many forms, though always flat: a platter, chessboard, or shield. Finally, the grail has the qualities of a horn-of-plenty. It provides sustenance and healing. It is a life-giver.

The way that Fury Road incorporates the hallows is rather ingenious. Rather than making these hallows objects, they are fluids. This didn’t occur to me until I read another film scholar’s take: “Public Seminar: Fury Road” by McKenzie Wark. Part of his analysis concerns four symbolic fluids crucial to the structure of the film: fuel, blood, water, and milk. I’m not doing a structural analysis but an archetypal one, so I’m going to slant the significance of these four fluids to the myth structure at hand.


Our two phallic/masculine fluids are fuel (Guzzoline) and blood. Fuel, as far as it is used to both transport the wives away from the Citadel (and back) and also as a trade for passage, fits the description of a tool for healing the curse. In traditional stories, the spear appears frequently as a magical sword, you know, like Excaliber. Here, since the weapon of choice is vehicular, fuel is a clear symbol for the war-oriented phallus. A character that embodies this is Nux.

Likewise, blood is a masculine-coded fluid and aligns with the lance hallow. Since the lance is often associated with the injury itself, blood makes sense. Embodied in blood-bag Max, we see how he is emblematic of the Wasteland itself through his wanderer status, lack of family, and even shots like his “resurrection” from the sand after the storm rolls through. He initially donates blood to Nux, fueling the War Boys and Immortan Joe’s efforts. Of course, he is also the one who leads them back to the Citadel, and he acts eventually as a healer for Furiousa, who will finally kill Joe and revive the life-death cycle.


Moving to the yonic, feminine hallows, we have water and milk. The two are both so strongly connected to fertility, it’s difficult to decide which is the proper dish and which is the grail. Water and milk appear early on in the film, both tightly controlled by Joe. Water is crucial to growing seeds and sustaining life of most kinds. When the heroes’ war rig returns to the Citadel with Joe’s corpse, the release of the water to the people is the great symbol that the injury (his caustic reign) has ended. It is, of course, important to note that the water is released by the wet nurses.

Milk is clearly embodied in the wives and wet nurses–the women who are fertile. The grail is meant to be life-giving and sustaining. A woman’s reproductive system is both. The uterus itself is cup shaped, it grows life when a woman becomes pregnant, and then after birth, a woman’s breasts become the cup that sustains the life with milk.

furiosa and wives


All four of these fluids are key to the breaking of the Fisher King’s curse and the returning of fertility to the land.

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Warning! Incoming Reboot Reboot

Reboot Logo

There’s been a lot to be excited about in the last month or two. I’m a little late in talking about upcoming Reboot, uh, reboot, but I feel okay about that. I was a little late discovering it the first time around. I’m pretty sure I first heard about it from the amusing titled Cyberpunk Handbook: The Real Cyberpunk Fakebook.

Reboot Cyberpunk Handbook

Despite my inauspicious initial contact, I came to love the show with the same kind of immoderate enthusiasm that drives our engagement with Once Upon a Time.  There is, in fact, a Mad Max themed episode designed by Fury Road‘s co-writer and story boarder that features the villain as a war rig hauling Mainframe’s equivalent of gasoline. It’s a post-neo-meta-reference or something.

This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the original. And it’s being celebrated in the traditional way, with a brand new update. Corus Entertainment has ordered 26 episodes of the “hybrid live-action/CG-animated series” with “a groundbreaking multi-platform experience.”

Like most reboots, this one seems to have only the most tenuous relationship with the original.

Transcending age groups with appeal to kids, tweens and teens, ReBoot: the Guardian Code is an adventure-comedy series about four teens (Austin, Parker, Grey and Tamra) who discover that they’re next-gen Guardians with a mission to save the world, by defending it in cyberspace. The Internet revolutionized the world, but it also left it vulnerable to attack. With the help of VERA, the last surviving cyberbeing from the original Reboot new posterGuardian Program, our heroes stream into cyberspace where they use their awesome code-based powers to battle viruses that have been unleashed by a ruthless hacker. Known only as the Sourcerer, he seeks to rule the world by controlling cyberspace. Original fans of the show will be happy to hear that Megabyte will be back and he’s getting a major upgrade. ReBoot will showcase leading edge technologies and bring coding into the mainstream for kids.

When Austin, Parker, Grey and Tamra are not trying to stop viruses from overloading a nuclear power station, or remotely opening a dam to flood a city, or playing Criss Cross Crash Hour with a city’s transportation grid, our heroes are being typical teens: arguing with their parents over curfews; dealing with crushes; or trying to avoid getting suspended for skipping class when they’re really on a cyber mission to save the world!

But, like most reboots of stuff I liked once upon a time, I choose to remain cautiously optimistic. The original series is available on DVD. And you can keep up with breaking news at Reboot Revival.


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‘Mad Max: Fury Road’: Another Modern Fisher King Myth, Part 3: The Grail Knight

The only antidote for the Fisher King’s suffering is a quest by the Grail Knight. Often the Grail Knight is a descendant of the Fisher King, though that is unknown to the Knight. The Knight is also frequently orphaned in the mythology, as so many heroes are. The Knight seeks the Grail to restore live and vigor to the land. However it will also kill the Fisher King, a paradoxical aspect to the story–death brings life/rebirth. When the Knight accomplishes his mission, killing the Fisher King, he will take the Fisher King’s place to rule the kingdom whose fertility he has restored.

The most likely candidate for Grail Knight status in Mad Max: Fury Road is Imperator Furiosa.  Furiosa is orphaned–we have no knowledge of her father and know that her mother was killed. When she takes the wives, she essentially takes a metaphor of fertility. In some versions of the Fisher King story, and other stories featuring the Grail, the Grail actually is the womb of a woman–which makes some sense if you define the Grail as a life-giving vessel. The fact that one of the wives is pregnant emphasizes this.

furiosa and wives

But she must also take the wives to a place where they can thrive in their fertility, rather than be oppressed and controlled. She attempts to take them to “The Green Place.” Though this is a variation from traditional Fisher King stories, “The Green Place” is the exact opposite of the Wasteland. It would be the place that comes into being if she succeeds. Ironically, this turns out to be the place she fled from. But there is precident for this in the mythology. Traditionally, the Knight must locate the Fisher King’s castle to find the Grail. The castle exists on another plane and will blip in and out of being. When it is located, it is often only with the help of an ally–a talking animal, some children in a tree, or even the Fisher King himself. This is where Max comes in as the ally Fisher King. It is he who suggests that taking the Citadel is the best option for Furiosa, the wives, and the Vulvani. The women need to re-establish their power at the Citadel to restore the balance of life and death.


Furiosa is also the one who kills Immortan Joe, and when she and the wives (and Nux) return victorious to the Citadel (Grail Castle), Max disappears into the crowd. She set both of the Fisher Kings free. And now she is likely to step up as the new leader of the Citadel.

The fact that Max Mad: Fury Road’s Grail Knight is a woman excites me. I have not before encountered a Fisher King story the had a female in this crucial role. In some ways, having a woman bring back fertility makes more sense. She’s got the womb, after all.