Bill Cooper, the man who got me into computers and many other passions of mine, was a huge fan of the Mad Max series. He'd often watch it in our living room. Once my first stepfather hosted a AD&D game where people dressed as who they wanted to play in the campaign. Superman, Mighty Mouse, and others showed up. Bill dressed up as Mad Max, complete with just about all of the guns from actor friends. Running late to the game as usual, he got pulled over by the police, who had quite a field day until they confirmed that the guns were legitimate theatrical pieces.
In all of my years of viewing his copy, I never caught the intro. In all of my years of watching it on television, I never caught the intro. I either tuned in (or the copy I had access to) started as they zoomed down the highway.
January 14th, 1991, was the day before I turned thirteen. I was in middle school, and was living in the large room on the second floor where my brother cessna182 used to live. The cable leading from the antenna on the roof was tied into a noose by my brother, and sometimes swung against the window. The next day the time limit for U.N. Security Council Resolution 678 ran out, and Desert Storm was due to kick into high gear. My brother was over there, and had been since the word got out that Kuwait was being taken.
So I was up in this room, lying on the floor, preparing to watch a movie late at night. I expected to see the same movie I had seen many times before, starting with Mad Max roaring down the post-apocalyptic wasteland highway. Instead I got an introduction I wasn't prepared for.
THE MONTAGE BLACK AND WHITE ACADEMY FORMAT la. THE WASTELAND. DAY. Flurries of dust and sand swirl around us as we move through an eerie, barren land. The only sound is the howl of a rising wind. Ahead something looms out of the storm. As we approach we see that it is the rusting remains of a massive oil pump. The wind drops to be replaced by the voice of a very old man. This Is the Narrator: NARRATOR v/o The vision dims and all that remains are mememories. They take me back - back to the place where the black pump sucked guzzolene from the earth... DISSOLVE. lb. ANOTHER PART OF THE WASTELAND. DAY. Out of the dust storm emerges the ancient wreck of a prime mover and fuel tanker. It is partly charred, its wheels and sides studded with metal crossbow bolts. NARRATOR v/o And I remember the terrible battle we fought - the day we left that place forever... DISSOLVE. 1c. A HILLTOP IN THE WASTELAND. DAY. A warrior, dressed in leather and steel, stands on a hill crest. This is MAX. Behind him is a strange road vehicle: two engines and a seat mounted on a chassis. NARRATOR v/o But, most of all, I remember the courage of a stranger, a road warrior called Max. To understand who he was you must go back to the last days of the old world ... FADE TO BLACK. ld/e. A MOB OF ARAB STUDENTS... ....storm a heavily-fortified embassy and raise the Iranian flag. 1f. U.S. SOLDIERS LAND ... ... on a beach in the Persian Gulf and fight their way across the sand. NARRATOR v/o ... when, for reasons long forgotten, two mighty warrior nations went to war ... 1g. AN OIL WELL ERUPTS... ... and then another ... and another. Plumes of flame burst across the skyline. NARRATOR ...and touched off a blaze which engulfed them all. 1h. A LINE OF CARS... ... stretches for blocks until It finally reaches a gas station. An attendant pulls down a sign which reads: $7 / Gallon and replaces it with another sign: AUTHORIZED VEHICLES ONLY A group of angry motorists gather around, yelling and pushing. The attendant produces a gun motioning them back ... NARRATOR ...For without fuel they were nothing. They had built a house of straw ... 1i. BUSINESSMEN AT A STOCK EXCHANGE ... ... are yelling and shoving. BUSINESSMEN Sell! Sell! Sell! Torn up scrip litters the floor ... 1j. THE FOYER OF A HUGE CORPORATION. The company's crest is chiselled on the wall. It is accompanied by the words: SEVEN SISTERS PETROLEUM "Fueling The World" on the floor below, beyond the marble pillars, we see the building is abandoned - littered with broken furniture and piles of documents. DISSOLVE. 1k. A CORRIDOR. We pass through a door designated: CHIEF EXECUTIVE At the other end of the imposing room we see a businessman clearing out his vast desk. His name is PAPPAGALLO. On the wall behind him we see photo- graphs and Paintings of oil wells and re fineries. PAPPAGALLO takes a wad of maps and puts them in his briefcase, followed by a copy of "Whole Earth, catalogue" and another book. The cover reads: TEACH YOURSELF SOLAR ENERGY 1l. LIVING ROOM. An ANXIOUS FAMILY is gathered in front of a television set - A politican addresses the nation. POLTTICIAN stage three of the national emergency is effective immediately, citizens are warned ... The speech is cut Short as static fills the screen. The family looks up at the lights as they flicker... lm. IN A FACTORY ... a giant machine grinds to a halt. ln. IN A CITY STREET... ...anxious faces look up as the street lights flick off. lo. AN INDUSTRIAL CITY SCAPE. It is dark, decaying, Silent ... NARRATOR V/0 people stopped In the streets end listened: for the first time they heard the sound of silence. lq. IN A DESERTED STREET. A terrible scream ... a YOUNG MAN runs down the street ... a shot Is fired. The YOUNG MAN falls dead ... crushing the meat and eggs he has been clutching to his chest ... NARRATOR V/0 Their world crumbled ... DISSOLVE. lq. IN A DESERTED CITY STREET. Bank notes, blown by the wind, flutter towards a store dummy, lying smashed on the road ... A rat emerges from the back of the mannequin's skull and scurries away as we hear the roar of a big engine. The wide wheels of a big car crush the dummy. As the vehicle roars down the street It is followed by two big bikes... NARRATOR v/0 And only those mobile enough to scavenge, brutal enough to pillage would survive. DISSOLVE. (THE FOLLOWING IS ALL FOOTAGE PROM MAD MAX) Ir. A GROUP OF OUTLAW BIKERS... ... leap from a hillside onto the roof of a moving fuel tanker. They pass a hose into the tank.. NARRATOR v/o At last, the vermin had inherited the earth. DISSOLVE. 1s. A PACK OF BIKERS ... ... swarm around a car and start to hack it to pieces. DISSOLVE. 1t. A SERIES OF RAPIDLY DISSOLVING IMAGES. Speeding cars, speeding bikes, crashing vans, crashing police cars, crashing bikes, brawls, smashed windows, explosions. NARRATOR v/o And in this maelstrom of decay, ordinary men were battered and crushed... lu. MAX IN POLICE UNIFORM. ... turns and smiles. NARRATOR vlo ...men like the Warrior Max... DISSOLVE. IV. MAX PLAYS. ... with a woman - JESSIE and their child. DISSOLVE. ... through a wheat field. He catches her. They tumble on the ground laughing. Ix. MAX EMBRACES JESSIE. NARRATOR V/0 who in the roar of an engine, lost everything ... DISSOLVE. ly. ON A HIGHWAY... JESSIE carrying the child, scrambles from her van and runs down the road. A GANG OF OUTLAW BIKERS run them down... the child's ball bounces down the road. MAX runs towards their bodies... Iz. SILHOUETTED ON A HILLSIDE GRAVEYARD. (PRODUCTION FOOTAGE) MAX stands looking down at two headstones... DISSOLVE. laa. IN FRONT OF A ROARING FIRE. MAX fuels the blaze with the remnants of his past life: children's toys; photo albums; his police badge. lbb. MAX WITH HIS SHOTGUN. ...turns to camera, wild-eyed ... NARRATOR v/o And became a shell of a man. A burnt out, desolate man, a dead man., running from the demons of his past. A man who wandered far away ... 1cc. MAX DRIVING. The supercharger On the front of the vehicle dominates the foreground. v/o NARRATOR And it was out here in this blighted place, that he learned to live again ... FADE OF COLOUR
Fucking amazing. So I stared at the screen, wide-eyed and gaping at the little TV in the big room, shuddering. Arabs fighting? Amphibious assault vehicles (what cessna182 piloted) in the Persian Gulf? Oil wells erupting? What the fuck was this? What the fuck was going on? The noose started slamming against the window, and I swore I saw a body in it.
But everything worked out for the most part. The actor who played the feral kid currently runs a store. Good times.