Mad Max Fury Road outline

For us in the audience, Mad Max: Fury Road felt thrillingly new when it raced into theaters this summer. But for director George Miller, it was the culmination of an idea that had been kicking around in his head for nearly two decades. A new book, The Art of Mad Max: Fury Road, shows us Miller’s original handwritten outline for the movie, dating all the way back to 1997.

Of course, now that Mad Max: Fury Road is actually out, it’s inspired its own wave of creativity, this time from the fans who fell for it in cinemas. One of the most stunning pieces of fan art we’ve seen retells Miller’s saga in — of all things — ancient Egyptian style. After the jump, see Miller’s original Fury Road outline and an Egyptian-style Fury Road reinterpretation. 

First up, behold Miller’s 1997 legend for what would become Mad Max: Fury Road.

Legend of the Fury Road

Miller has pretty nice handwriting, but even so the photo’s just small enough that it’s annoying to read. So here’s a transcription via HitFix:

ONCE UPON A TIME… in a dark and toxic land, there lived a WARLORD.

– The warlord was brutal and cruel, and the people of his kingdom lived in misery, disease and terror. Poverty and slavery were all they knew… But the warlord had a secret: hidden from view, high in the chambers of his castle, were SIX YOUNG PRINCESSES. These girls were his only love.
– Many years ago, the warlord had stolen these girls as babies, and abducted them to his fortress… And there they would remain until they were old enough to bear him healthy children, for all children born by the women within the kingdom were inflicted by plague and sadness. The girls were his last hope.
– The oldest princess was already pregnant with his child, and the warlord knew that the time was near, when, at last he would have a healthy son, and his dynasty would continue…

The warlord trusted no one, except a beautiful and fierce WARRIOR WOMAN, who commanded his army and watched over the six girls.

The Warrior Woman came from another land, another tribe… And like the girls, she had been captured by the warlord but had risen up through the ranks of his army to become his most feared and respected soldier, his most favoured comrade…

– AND SO SHE BETRAYED HIM…

Under cover of a trading convoy, Warrior Woman hid the six girls in her wagon, and began a hazardous journey through the only means of escape from the warlord’s kingdom: THE FURY ROAD. The Warrior Woman would return the girls back to their original home… at the other end of the Furiosso.

This place was an eden. A haven of love and freedom… It had been named “GYNOTOPIA” by the tribe of women who had founded it. This too had been Warrior Woman’s home. This enlightened place was to be the best future for the girls and their child-to-be. Far away from the terror of the bleak male domain of the warlord, the girls could thrive in this new society.

THE WARLORD’S rage knew no limits. He gathered together the awesome force of his armada and commanded his warrior boys to bring back ‘THE SIX’ unharmed… And to kill the Warrior Woman. He would lead the armada himself.

– Down in the dark underworld of the warlord’s fortress were many slaves. Many of these wretched souls planned their escape from this hell hole… None had survived the brutality of the Fury Road. But for one of these slaves, freedom was all that mattered. Once this slave had been a great warrior, and possessed a pure and noble heart. His name was MAX.

The warrior boy NUX, in need of a tracker on the Fury Road, selected the slave-dog ‘MAX’. Chaining his dog to his wrist, Nux drove off down the Fury Road to find and kill his former commander, Warrior Woman, and return the six to his beloved warlord.

When a powerful FURY STORM blew in, the slave Max overpowered Nux in the ferocious wind. Unable to sever the chain, Max dragged Nux out of the storm and stumbled across his means of escape…

Warrior Woman and the six girls… TO BE CONTINUED…

Details have changed here and there. The finished Mad Max: Fury Road featured five wives, not six, and Furiosa’s (or rather, the character who would become Furiosa’s) history is more explicitly spelled out here than it was in the movie. But overall, it’s striking how little has changed from that original outline written 18 years ago.

The same goes for this storyboard from 1999:

Mad Max Fury Road storyboard (1999)

Again, there are some changes — the earlier version of the Doof Warrior was rocking a guitar-violin! — but the general ideas have mostly remained. Including the film’s unapologetic feminist sensibility, which has been discussed at great length here and elsewhere. It’s also interesting to see Furiosa was always meant to be the lead, not (despite the film’s title) Max.

And now that the completed Mad Max: Fury Road has been unleashed into the world, it’s been the subject of much creative reinterpretation and homage. Just Google “Mad Max Fury Road fan art” and you’ll get back a gazillion hits. But one of the coolest we’ve seen so far is this piece from Japanese artist Takumi (via Birth.Movies.Death.).

Mad Max Fury Road Egyptian style (color)

Here’s a black and white version for a better look:

Mad Max Fury Road Egyptian style (B&W)

I couldn’t honestly tell you how closely this mimics ancient Egyptian art, because I don’t know much about ancient Egyptian art. But Takumi’s piece looks freaking awesome, and very unlike anything else we’ve seen. It looks at once ancient (like something lifted straight out of an Egyptian tomb, at least to my untrained eyes) and modern, which combines to give the saga a timeless feel.

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