On receiving his invitation from the Festival, George Miller exclaimed, “What an unmitigated delight! To be there in the middle of this storied festival at the unveiling of cinematic treasures from all over the planet. To spend time in passionate discourse with fellow members of the jury. Such an honor. I’ll be there with bells on!”
It was in Cannes last May that Mad Max: Fury Road set out on its fantastic cavalcade across their screens. The film, shown Out of Competition in the Official Selection, marked the return not only of the hero of the legendary saga for the millions of fans of Max Rockatansky, but also the comeback of his creator, George Miller, and of the visionary filmmaking that made him a household name around the world.
The roots of George Miller’s career, alongside those of Peter Weir, Bruce Beresford and Phillip Noyce stretch back to the golden age of Australian cinema from the 1980s. Originally from a small village in Queensland, George Miller wrote and directed Violence in the Cinema, part 1 in 1971. Produced by his friend Byron Kennedy, with whom he founded the Kennedy Miller company, the short film picked up two prizes from the Australian Film Institute. This official recognition encouraged George Miller to pursue a career in film and to make his first feature.
In 1979, Mad Max, inspired by the “outback gothic” genre sweeping Australia at the time, introduced Mel Gibson and was a worldwide smash hit. A superb pas-de-deux with American cinema, this ultra-violent futuristic film brought the action film genre a touch of class with its masterly combination of Road Movie, Western and Science-Fiction elements. A legendary saga was born which in turn gave rise to Mad Max 2: the Road Warrior in 1981, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome in 1985 and Mad Max: Fury Road in 2015.
Throughout his career, George Miller has constantly experimented with a variety of genres, brilliantly reconciling mass audience expectations and the highest artistic standards. In 1983, along with John Landis, Steven Spielberg and Joe Dante, he directed the final segment of Twilight Zone: The Movie. Then came The Witches of ‘Eastwick in 1987 and the intimate drama Lorenzo’s Oil in 1992, starring Susan Sarandon and Nick Nolte, which picked up Oscar nominations for Best Screenplay and Best Actress.
In 1995, he adapted and produced Babe, directed by Chris Noonan, which picked up seven Oscar nominations including Best Film and Best Adaptation. In 2006, his first animated film Happy Feet was a huge box office hit and garnered the Oscar for Best Animated Feature. Happy Feet 2 took up the story in 2011.
In 2015, 30 years after the last Mad Max, the 4th chapter of the post-apocalyptic epic, complete with feminist and anti-totalitarian overtones, once again took cinemas by storm and has been the talk of the press and the festival circuit ever since. With ten nominations for the 2016 Oscars, including Best Film and Best Director, it recently scooped no fewer than nine prizes at the Critics Choice Awards, including that of Best Director.
The 70-year-old Miller has won international acclaim for these spectacular and jubilant creations, as well as for his eclecticism, inventiveness and sheer audacity. His nomination marks a no-holds-barred celebration of genre cinema. But above all, the 2016 Festival de Cannes is all set to welcome a big-hearted film lover and a great human being (running May 11 – 22).