Wednesday, September 13, 2006

When there's no room left for heroes..........

Post-Apocalypse. It's a future that has been examined in books and films since forever. The apocalypse I refer to is not the one involving the showdown between the so-called good guy, namely God, and his nemesis, Satan. This sad state of affairs is the possible outcome of good old home grown, namely human, insanity. The usual blame for finding ourselves suddenly back in a poisoned or radioactive stone age was the nuclear stand-off between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Other possibilities have included global warming, a global germ warfare attempt gone horribly awry, or territory disputes taken to the extreme pitting have-nots against haves. No matter the exact cause, the results have been speculated to be anything but pretty, and most downright hopeless.

One of the best what-ifs I have seen so far is the series of Mad Max movies that came out of Australia and introduced us to that good Catholic Aussie actor, Mel Gibson. The first movie examined a world that was going rapidly down the tubes but was more of a car crash festival than critical examination of survival in tough times. Gibson wasn't exactly lauded for his acting in that one, but it was fun nonetheless. Then came a much better written, much more expansive sequel, The Road Warrior. Still more or less based on his characters driving ability, handiness with available weaponry, and loner angst resulting from the murder of his family, this one was set after all hell had broken loose and mankind was left to fight over what was left of the oil, with pipe dreams of finding some untouched paradise to escape to. This one actually had a plot and some much better acting, as well as some incredible stunt work. It was still a car crash movie, but with a twist, and it worked overall.

Then came the masterpiece, Beyond Thunderdome. Max is a bit older, still adapting to the new reality, still the loner, and mankind is hanging on by a thin thread. This time a major name actress (well, a singer, actually, but who could complain about Tina Turner showing up in this one; I think she ROCKED!) is added to the mix, and Gibson has by now become a major force in hollywood on his own.

This movie examines the tribal nature of man fighting for power, over what's left of anything of value, and how hope can survive in the most unlikely of places. Max is the perfect example of the anti-hero, the man who basically is looking out for number one, but cannot escape his humanity when the chips are down and others depend on him. Turner is the nobody who comes to the forefront and tries to hold it all together, not immune to using underhanded means to do so, all for the greater good, in her eyes at least. Then there's the bit players who add hilarity and substance to the overall story, many times overshadowing Gibson and Turner.

The most fascinating subset of the film was the children, survivors of an evacuation flight that crashed, leaving them on their own in an unlikely oasis deep in the desert. How they survive and the society they build as they wait for a rescue that will never come could be applied to just about any isolated people left with a skewed understanding of the world and limited ability to grasp their situation. Even their made-up language was skillfully crafted and entirely believable.

So, how closely do YOU think Mad Max comes to a likely portrayal of what awaits us in the not-to-distant future? Personally, I hope it's not even close, because to me it seems all too possible, at least in Australia. Maybe the planet itself will get lucky and our demise will result from a worst-case plague. Then, the roaches can get their shot at stardom; Radical Roach, Beyond the Roach Motel...

This you knows: the years travel fast and time after time I done the tell. But this ain't one body's tell; it's the tell of us all, and you've got to listen it and [re]'member, 'cause what you hears today you gotta tell the birthed tomorrow. I's lookin' behind us now, into history back. I sees those of us that got the luck and started the haul for home and I 'members how it led us here and how we was heartbroke 'cause we seen what they once was. One look and we knew'd we'd got it straight. Those what had gone before had the knowin' and the doin' of things beyond our reckonin', even beyond our dreamin'. Time counts and keeps countin' and we knows now, findin' the trick of what's been and lost ain't no easy ride, but that's our trek. We gotta travel it and there ain't nobody knows where it's gonna lead. Still, in all, every night we does the tell so that we 'member who we was and where we came from. But most of all we 'members the man who finded us, him that came the salvage, and we lights the city not just for him but for all of 'em that are still out there, 'cause we knows there'll come a night when they sees the distant light and they'll be comin' home.

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