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  • Widescreen 2.35:1
  • 16:9 Enhanced
  • Dual Layer (RSDL )
  • English: Dolby Digital 5.1 Surround
  • English: DTS 5.1 Surround
    English - Hearing Impaired
  • 2 Theatrical trailer
  • Production notes
  • Animated menus

Mad Max

Roadshow Entertainment/Roadshow Entertainment . R4 . COLOR . 89 mins . R . PAL


We’ve had to wait an incredibly long time, but after too many false starts finally the original Mad Max has come home on DVD. The first feature created by the Kennedy Miller partnership, it is a landmark moment from Australia’s cinematic history and justifiably a bona fide cult classic the world over. Mercifully without a horse or long flowing white dress in sight, it deftly combines elements of tense thriller, extreme action, excessive gruesomeness and desperate revenge – oh, and lots of hotted up Fords, Holdens and motorcycles for those who get off on such things. But you already know all that, don’t you?

You probably also know the basic story. With fuel a scarce commodity; gangs have pretty much taken over the barren stretches of outback highway, preying on anybody silly enough to enter ‘their’ turf. When the Night Rider (no, not David Hasselhoff!), a member of one of these gangs, drops a cog in his head, kills a cop and hoons off in his natty black pursuit special, it starts a chain of events which leads to one cop named Max Rockatansky earning the ‘Mad’ mantle he carries in the film’s title. He gets involved with the Night Rider’s pursuit after his fellow cops all SNAFU it big time, and demonstrates why it isn’t such a wise idea to play chicken with him. Incensed at the loss of their ‘brother’, the delightfully named Toecutter (who looks remarkably like Zaphod Beeblebrox sans the extra bonce) and his gang swear revenge. First they cook his Goose, then they go for targets much closer to home. Needless to say, Max isn’t going to take it lazing about on the couch...

"They say people don’t believe in heroes anymore. Well damn them!"

It seems rather pointless rabbiting on about a film of this magnitude – few haven’t seen it, and few fail to have an opinion on it. Some see it as remarkably disturbing and violent – which it is – however just as many see the balanced view of why it is this way. Little in the way of horrific elements is too graphic – although one or two scenes do make the R rating justified – and everything that happens at least happens for some sort of reason in the context of the story. Or something like that – really, what’s the point of prattling on? If you are unfamiliar with Mad Max it’s a riveting thriller with both covert and overt flashes of Hitchcockian brilliance (maybe this explains all the shots of birds?), a true classic that changed the face (and dress) of Australian cinema forever, as well as providing inspiration and influence to many other filmmakers. Basically it’s one of those films you should see at least once in your life to be in a position to make your own mind up about.


Ah, the desolate wastelands of a post-apocalyptic Melbourne in glorious anamorphically enhanced, 2.35:1 widescreen - what more could we want? It’s claimed that Mad Max was the first Australian film to be shot using anamorphic lenses, and whether this is actually the case or not this extra effort given to a film which was essentially shot on a shoestring budget certainly doesn’t go to waste here.

In all quite an impressive job has been done on this DVD transfer. It isn’t perfect, with black and white specks showing their ugly heads throughout, however they’re hardly of plague proportions and don’t detract too much from proceedings when you factor in the film’s vintage. Colour is deeply saturated where appropriate, and sits just on the safe side of over-saturation – with a couple of delightful ‘70s meant-to-be-the-future red numbers almost being hard on the eyes - however the Interceptors, motorcycles and the like all come up very pleasingly vivid and shiny. Blacks are almost defiantly black, exhibiting none of that greyness we so often witness with films of this vintage and the few dark scenes deliver excellent detail, something which remarkably the whole presentation gives in spades, with only a couple of scarcely perceptible examples of aliasing and jaggies to be seen. There is one very noticeable fault, however, at about the 4:28 mark where there’s a frame skip. This must have been obvious when the film was being transferred, so we’ll assume it was an unfixable fault with the source material.

The layer change comes at a scene transition, and whilst noticeable it is quickly navigated and not too intrusive.


Originally made in flat as a tack mono, anybody who hasn’t experienced Mad Max for a while will almost literally be blown away by either the Dolby Digital or full bitrate DTS 5.1 remixes served up here. As is generally the case there is little easily discernable difference between the two other than the DTS version being noticeably louder, however those with bionic hearing may pick up a bit more with the beefier mix. Sadly purists miss out on the original mix, and we also aren’t given the option of the ludicrous and often extremely comical American dub which the region 1 DVD contains.

Naturally most of the dialogue is delivered from front and centre, however quite a bit of work has obviously been done on stereo effects across the front, as well as shaking the surround channels from the ennui they’d have endured if we’d just been given the standard old sound mix the film originally had. Revheads will be in rapture at the thunderous throaty rumbles which burble across the room throughout the film, many of which are given added oomph with what could only be described as gloriously in your face (or should that be bones?) subwoofwoof usage. All is synched to perfection, and dialogue comes up beautifully clear.

The score comes from the late ABC stalwart Brian May, and it’s an interesting affair. Running the gamut from being all mushy and swelly in the rare romantic moments, to sounding much akin to a marriage of the themes from Division 4 and Homicide colliding head on with Bernard Herrmann’s creepier work for Alfred Hitchcock, it is an orchestral soundtrack which truly adds no end to the tense atmosphere of the film.


The main menu features short snippets of the film both as background accompaniment and as transitions, and it gives way to what is sadly only an extremely limited and rather flaccid selection of extras, for as well as the two soundtracks mentioned above, this region 4 release boasts no sign of the audio commentary, trivia track, two featurettes, original trailer, TV spots or poster gallery which the latest US release is lavished with. Naturally many of these would have been very desirable - it is, after all, OUR film!

What we do get is...

Two Trailers, one each for Mad Max II and Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (that’s right, curiously there’s none for the first film). Both are full frame with mono sound, the first running for 2:35 and in rather grotty condition, the second clocking in at 1:23 and much cleaner, but incredibly dark.

The other extras come under the banner of To the Max – Behind the Scenes of a Cult Classic, and unfortunately they’re all simply text-based screens. Still, they cannot be accused of a lack of thoroughness, being divided into a number of sections full of informative data on the production and those responsible. More specifically these are Genesis - four pages on the birth of the film; The Director - 13 pages on George Miller, including a filmography; The Producer - six pages, including filmography, on the late Byron Kennedy; The Star - ten pages on Mr Gibson; Cast and Crew – simply six pages listing the people who worked on the film; The Awards – one page listing nominations received; Max Fax - 14 pages of trivia, web links and video/DVD availability information and finally The Words About Max, which is a ten page collection of review snippets and other writings on the film from various sources.

DTS trailer: Just the same old piano one.

Dolby Digital trailer: Through the canyon we go once more...


The film gives us many extremely valid reasons as to why Max became Mad, however when boasting a quite wonderfully cleaned up video transfer and beefy audio remixes that will have the crockery rattling for weeks, this DVD release would at least be certain to illicit a brief smile from him. Well, perhaps until he notices the utter dearth of useful extras, including the absence of many, many fan-pleasing features that the Yanks were given on their release – still, we do at least get a foundation battering DTS soundtrack to play with which they don’t.

In the end the movie is the most important thing, and on this front we’ve been delivered an undeniably classy product. So if you don’t care about extra features then this release has most definitely been worth the wait.

Just one thing remains a mystery though, why on Earth would anybody call their child ‘Sprog’?

  • LINK: http://www.dvd.net.au/review.cgi?review_id=1787
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      And I quote...
    "Boasting video and audio that should stop Max being Mad - well, until he sees the utter dearth of extras..."
    - Amy Flower
      Review Equipment
    • DVD Player:
          Pioneer DV-535
    • TV:
          Sony 68cm
    • Receiver:
          Onkyo TX-DS494
    • Speakers:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse RBS662
    • Centre Speaker:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECC442
    • Surrounds:
          DB Dynamics Eclipse ECR042
    • Subwoofer:
          DTX Digital 4.8
    • Audio Cables:
          Standard RCA
    • Video Cables:
          Standard Component RCA
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