As our Christmas day dribbled away, a film was called for. Son suggested Mad Max: Fury Road. It might seem like a strange choice for the season of Disney and Rogers and Hammerstein, but it looked good to me. And I thoroughly enjoyed it. The plot is simple and straightforward. As son pointed out, even I would have no trouble following it. The visuals are tremendous, the action non-stop, and the scenario is so wildly over the top, the characters so wildly over the top, and the violence so absolutely wildly over the top it’s a really fun film. It has an ethical dimension to it that I enjoyed, and the role of the many women, given that it’s a sort of punk-style post-apocalyptic western, has feminist credibility which I would never give to your average scantily clad warrior woman with big gazongas trope.
If you like post-apocalyptic this one seems pretty credible to me. The references to Valhalla, the desert scenery, the boys playing at war with their bikes, guns and mad cars, the deformities and the sheer lunacy of most of humanity are images and metaphors that are dear to my heart. I you haven’t seen it; I recommend it.
My feelings about the First World War were shaped not by stories handed down about grandfathers or grand uncles because the dead were dead and those who came back never wanted to talk about it, or by reading the war poets at school, but from seeing a performance of Oh! What A Lovely War when I was about fourteen. It broke my heart, and still does.
The opinion now seems to be that the commemoration of the Armistice should be to celebrate a race of heroes. We honour the sacrifice of a generation. The idea of the senseless tragedy, conniving national leaders, and incompetent generals, brilliantly put across in the play then the film of Oh! What a Lovely War, seems to have rather gone out of fashion.
This is the final sequence from it. If you don’t cry there’s something wrong with you.
Yesterday I was feeling very frustrated at the unusable pages I had written, more like the minutes from an extremely boring meeting that an action-packed YA adventure. I half knew what was wrong with it, and I fell asleep last night with the image of a child running from danger in my head. The first thing I thought of this morning when I was jolted out of sleep by somebody slamming the bathroom door, was the running child. I knew now what was the basic flaw in my opening scenes, and I had a tentative idea of how to overcome it.
An opening, if it is not plunging directly into the action, introduces the scene, the characters, and gives a bit of background. That’s what I had done. Fine. But looking over those introductions I realised how static they were. All the characters were either standing observing, sitting contemplating the scenery, or sitting getting bored. There was no movement anywhere.
Usually I see what I’m writing, like watching a film. I try and write an action scene quickly, as quick as the action, with short, terse phrases. This was more like a set of stills from a silent movie. The running child was the key. He brought in a dynamic, a sense of urgency and danger, and suddenly the opening turned into a film rather than a series of dull snapshots.
All I have to do now is write it all down.