Cast and Crew: Brian May (Score); Bruce Spence, Vernon Wells
What It’s About: After the fall of Western civilization, a lone oil pump and refinery is besieged by marauders led by The Humungus (Kjell Nilsson). The defenders represent the last vestiges of civilization in the desert, and their only hope is Mad Max (Mel Gibson).
Why Watch it Today?: Although even at the time many seemed to think that The Road Warrior takes place after a nuclear conflict, the opening narration only says:
For reasons long forgotten, two mighty warrior tribes went to war and touched off a blaze, which engulfed them all. Without fuel, they were nothing. They built a house of straw. The thundering machines sputtered and stopped. Their leaders talked and talked and talked. But nothing could stem the avalanche. Their world crumbled.
You could read that as a nuclear conflict, but combined with the stock footage of the Second World War that it plays over, its more likely that this refers to the coming of what is now called Peak Oil, when the fuel is simply gone and society is unable to sustain itself. A key element in creating the fears this scenario exploits was the 1973 oil crisis, which OPEC, created today in 1960, precipitated by raising oil prices. The Road Warrior is a stirring combination of a lean Western storyline with a near future setting, giving us “cowboys” and “savages” battling not on horseback and in stagecoaches but in on motorcycles, cars and trucks. Australian director George Miller gives us some of the best scenes of motorized mayhem ever filmed, and an aesthetic that would cross-pollinate with those from John Carpenter’s Escape from New York and lead to a boom in the relatively new Post Apocalypse sub-genre.