Podcasting Historic On The Fury Road, With Kyle Buchanan
5:32 PM EST on February 24, 2022
Anyone can sit around and think about civilizational collapse and the end of everything humanity has ever held dear all day long; it is, at this moment, one of the hottest trends among sentient beings worldwide. The difference between George Miller and for instance me is that, when I do it, you (eventually) get a blog post about a Super Bowl commercial out of it, whereas George Miller delivers one of the all-time classics of action filmmaking. This is the only difference between me and the iconic filmmaker George Miller that I can think of, and really it's more a matter of degree than of kind if you think about it—we both eventually deliver something overstuffed and dystopian, and not remotely on the timetable that anyone involved hoped for.
That said, the nearly two decades that Miller spent putting together Mad Max: Fury Road were much more eventful than the time I spend slumped over a laptop, and the end result of those decades of dreaming and working and risk-taking was so remarkable that it's easy to see why someone would be moved to write a book about it. And so it was that, this week, Drew and I talked to Kyle Buchanan of The New York Times about his new book Blood Sweat And Chrome, an extremely righteous oral history of the making of Miller's spectacular opus.
Because Drew and I are both huge fans of Fury Road, and because we both so enjoyed Buchanan's book, and because he probably knows more about this movie and its impossibly arduous journey to the screen than just about anyone alive, we spent pretty much the whole podcast talking about all that. Not just about the film itself, although there was some of that, but about the sprawling and contentious and frequently brutal individual labors and variously strained collaborations that made it possible. As a movie-obsessed kid, I was convinced that making a film seemed like the coolest thing a person could possibly do with their time. Blood Sweat And Chrome both disabused me of that notion forever and, in a perverse way, affirmed that it was in fact correct. It is a crazy pursuit, doomed and dangerous and ultimately entirely too dependent upon the whims and favor of ultra-rich cynics and total weirdos, but that is increasingly true of an increasing number of things. More than that, there's always the chance that you come out of it with a Fury Road. So, all told, not a bad deal.
There was a little bit of the old dumb stuff in there, although we spent a solid 40 minutes talking to Kyle about a movie that all three of us are absolute freaks for. An attempt at Remembering A Guy wound up pivoting into a brief conversation of Todd Hollandsworth. The sad dearth of George Miller-style names in sports and the jarring preponderance of George Lucas-y ones was addressed at some length and depth. Kyle was admirably open about a difficult personal experience with Slim Jims that put him off what had previously been a staple of his diet, which led to a decently heated debate between Good Jerky—that is, the kind that are identifiably made of meat—and the oddly foamy polymer-based kind you get at gas stations. While this episode and Kyle's book are both more about the journey than the destination, it was nice to end up someplace close to home.
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