WHY WOULD YOU POINT THAT OUT. but no like at first she looks up like “goddamn these naive idealistic youths” but then her gaze drops for a moment like “yea we’ve all thought that at one point. but thats not how the world works” and she looks back to the dag and eventually gives her the seeds like “i hope you’ll be able to stay above it”
endlessimpossibility: #oh man max looks totally lost#poor precious splendid
He really does, even more so a moment after this iirc!
If I may ramble for a moment (feel free to cut on reblogs, god!) – this is one of my fave FR blocking set-ups for disguised-character-development-as-misdirected-tension. Though the movie has shown that Max won’t use personal space violations as intimidation, it’s been pretty subtle so far. Kinda hard to make that obvious in a brawl (though the cues are there). So here is where the movie makes Max’s scrupulous boundary behavior (translation: his integrity) come home like a ton of bricks.
It’s a tight space. Max is still dangerously frightened and so clings to the idea of retaining some options by having a hostage. And so he wedges himself in there forcing Angharad to share a space that would be nauseatingly close with someone of unknown integrity and who has a gun. And yet… he’s leaving Angharad as much room as he can – look he’s backed off as far as he can be. There is never, even for a moment, a sense that Max will threaten her by invading her tiny remaining personal space, let alone do anything else. [as an aside, it would be absolutely par for the course for a man to just trample personal space here without even noticing it – just by unintentional shifting around. How many times have men blundered into your personal space bubble as if it didn’t exist, simply because they believe so completely in the presence of their own bubble? (no slight intended to the men who have awareness – you guys probably notice the same thing from these other guys!) Amazingly, Max doesn’t even do that despite the tight quarters]
But no – Max has already shown multiple times that while he’s maintaining his only-recently-regained personal space by any and all guns necessary, he also does everything he can not to crowd anyone else’s space as a means of intimidation. He backed off of Furiosa the moment he knew he had the upper hand. He blocked all of Nux’s enthused attempts to connect and ultimately put him on the dirt knocking the wind out of him without ever bulling into Nux’s space to establish dominance (for contrast, remember Slit trying to dominate Nux exactly this way). He doesn’t use the ability any guy with his strength and size could use, to crowd people as a means of intimidation. It’s totally and completely out of character for ‘scarily physical guy wins confrontation’ body language – and yet he doesn’t do it, not once.
And that same body language carries over here. I wasn’t sexual-cringe worried for a second when he forced Angharad to share such a limited niche with him – because everything he’d done up to that point showed he would not use invasion of space as a dominance maneuver. And amazingly, in this tiny constricted spot, he still manages to adhere to that body language. He’s not crowding her as a means of intimidation to keep her under control. He’s got the gun – he doesn’t need to exert one bit more force. And because he is not dominance seeking, he doesn’t.
As character development for Max as a trustworthy human, this is beautifully executed. And as character development for the movieitself as a movie that will refuse even momentary microaggressions (either to build tension or as icky humor), this is beautifully executed.
That makes me think of one of my favourite shots from this film:
This is quite possibly one of the only shots in the film that is truly sexually charged. Our focus is on Angharad’s naked collarbone, her gorgeous hair and lips, the closeness of their bodies. The camera’s focus on her neck and mouth make the viewer almost feel the movement of her hair and her warm breath.
There’s just this moment of perfect stillness, offset by the tension in the Pass. As the rock walls grow close around the Rig, Max and Angharad’s bodies are pressed close together just inside the hold. At the risk of being too Freudian (though, let’s face it, it’s Miller and everything is Freudian), we are given the complimentary images of a gun barrel next to Angharad’s full lips and the long Rig penetrating the long, narrow archway of the Pass. The staging for this scene is uniquely sexual in a way that is quite different from anything else in the film.
And yet – Max is busy watching Furiosa’s movements and the cliffs beyond; he doesn’t really look at Angharad until she begins having her Braxton Hicks. As we see in the top gif, he looks past her to scan his surroundings; only when she cries out does he seem to remember that he’s sitting next to a pregnant girl and his eyes read: ‘oh, shit, now?’
As @redshoesnblueskies points out, this scene shows us a whole lot about Max, his integrity, and his respect for women. He’s oblivious. To him, she’s just another person that he happens to be crammed into a box with. And, oh fuck, she’s having contractions.
But that brings me back to the screencap I inserted here. The initial shot, focusing on Angharad, tells us more about what Angharad is thinking than what Max is thinking. Again, up until she cries out, he’s not thinking about her – he’s thinking about the Pass.
But Angharad? Angharad’s thinking about him.
This initial shot, we don’t see much of anything of Max but his shoulder, pushing in on Angharad’s space. And his gun, dangerously close to her face.
But we do see the tenseness in Angharad’s neck, the careful neutral expression on her face, even a glimpse of the downcast eyes. She doesn’t look him in the face, she just barely turns her face towards him, her movements subtle and stiff.
This moment is full of sexual tension. But it’s not Max feeling that tension – it’s Angharad.
And so here, within just a few shots, we are given a full demonstration of what male privilege looks like in day-to-day moments. Max is just having a normal (for him) day. Standoffs with hostile enemies, possible shootouts, the works. But in Angharad’s mind, she is framing the situation in terms not of possible gun violence, but possible sexual violence. Her body is pressed against another man’s, a gun to her face. She is tense, but also strangely collected. She has been in this situation before. Neutral expression and downcast eyes? That is the automatic-shutdown expression of a woman who has been abused before and who expects to be abused again.
For that one, tense moment, we’re not meant to see things out of Max’s perspective, we’re meant to see out of Angharad’s. And in her mind, she’s not thinking of what a good guy Max is for not abusing the situation. In her mind, she’s only expecting a groping hand – or worse. Not all men are rapists. Some are like Max. But that’s not the point of this shot: the point is that all women know what Angharad is expecting.
It’s only when the action starts up that we’e snapped back to Max’s perspective, once again worried about blazing machine guns and pregnant women.
And that, friends, is how you do visual storytelling.
FUCKING BEAUTIFUL, YES.
and what does it say that, writing as a woman, that I just filed all of this under ‘assumed knowledge’ – because of course this is obvious to us [where ‘us’ equals the feminist readership I’m usually in discourse with] and needs no explaining…but it’s needful that we say it explicitly on occasion, because damn we all gloss over it as ‘assumed info’ way too often.