George Miller's long ride from 'Mad Max' to Cannes

2nd February 2016, Comments 0 comments

Director George Miller, the next president of the jury at the Cannes Film Festival, is known for his violent, high-speed "Mad Max" road movies but the ex-doctor is also celebrated as part of the renaissance of Australian cinema.

Post-apocalyptic visions aside, the 70-year-old can also boast a softer oeuvre, bringing to the screen titles such as "Happy Feet", "Babe" and "Lorenzo's Oil".

Miller, the first Australian to chair Cannes, unleashed the first "Mad Max" starring a young Mel Gibson in 1979 and has said the cult feature was influenced by his childhood in car-obsessed rural Queensland.

"It wasn't until I really ended up being a doctor in emergency and seeing the kind of carnage as a result of car accidents or bike accidents that it kind of got into me," he told Australia Screen Online in 2006.

"It kind of disturbed me quite a bit. And I think all those things were part of the mix of the 'Mad Max' films. Particularly the first one."

Miller gave up a career as a doctor to concentrate on film and went on to direct "Witches of Eastwick" (1987) starring Jack Nicholson, Cher and Susan Sarandon.

"Babe: Pig in the City" (1998) and the penguin movie "Happy Feet" (2006), for which he won an Oscar for best animated feature, followed.

His latest instalment, "Mad Max: Fury Road", starring Charlize Theron and Tom Hardy as Max, has picked up 10 nominations for the upcoming Academy Awards including best director.

Miller has said he has aimed for the audience to be able to pick out the story as the film rushes headlong past, likening it to watching a silent movie.

"The task was to see how much story or experience or felt life you could create for an audience during a very fast action piece," he told The Sydney Morning Herald in October 2015.

"I'm always interested as to how film language is evolving.

"It's an acquired language. It basically laid down its syntax in the silent era. In many ways, 'Mad Max' is a silent movie with sound."

Besides film, Miller has also been involved in making acclaimed television in Australia, including mini-series such as "The Dismissal", "Bangkok Hilton" and "Bodyline".

Miller, whose father came to Australia from Greece, is married to film editor Margaret Sixel.

© 2016 AFP

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