Mad Max: Fury Road is up for 10 Academy Awards on Sunday night. I don’t expect it to win too many of them, especially not Best Picture or Director — not because the movie isn’t deserving, but because the Oscars have a long history of valuing supposed “artsiness” over artistry. That a violent, dystopian, completely insane action spectacle like Fury Road was even nominated for top prizes is progress. Baby steps.
But if you need a 90-second reminder why Fury Road’s artistry is worth celebrating, Oscar winner or not, the below video by film blogger Vashi Nedomansky should do the trick.
Nedomansky mixes audio commentary from Fury Road’s Director of Photography John Seale over one of the film’s most well-choreographed fight scenes: “Compositionally, whatever was the centerpoint of that shot had to be in the center of frame. In the faster cutting that [the movie’s] got, your eye won’t have to shift… to find the next subject when you’ve only got 1.8 seconds of time to do that… It just goes bang bang bang, takes you into it, and that is basically the whole of the film.”
You’d think this respect for the audience’s ability to understand and get caught up in what’s happening on screen would be the industry standard for action films, but you’d be wrong. There are a lot of things to love about Fury Road beyond its technique, but its greatest achievement is the heightened sensation, excitement, and pleasure of just watching it. A movie this thrilling is its own reward.