Greatest Post Apocalypse Cinema Nominee No. 3

The Mad Max Trilogy (1979-1985; Director: George Miller; Starring: Mel Gibson, Tina Turner and Bruce Spence)

Long ago, there was a time when Mel Gibson wasn't a homophobic, anti-semetic bigoted piece of shit... Okay, there was a time when we didn't know that he was.  During this time, he turned in some outstanding work, including the trilogy that makes this list.  Mad Max (1979), Mad Max 2, AKA The Road Warrior (1981), and Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome (1985).  Treating the three films as a single story avoids any debate as to whether or not the first film truly qualifies as post-apocalyptic.  The second film, the best of the three, lays out the expository account of "two mighty warrior tribes" going to war and igniting a "blaze that engulfed them all."  It's not clear when this happened in relation to the events of the first film.

Gibson's Max follows a remarkable arc in the three films.  In the first, we see him lose everything: his career, his best friend, his wife and child.  He is the personification of the tragic hero.  In the second, Max has become a black-leather-clad anti-hero.  He lives amongst the road scum he battled as a law enforcement officer in the first film.  We are left to ponder how and if he is better or even different from the psychotic gangs of the wasteland with whom he is competing to fuel his dust-covered, but still vibrant V-8.  In the third film, Max has become a classic hero, moving on from the petrol wars of the highways, rescuing a group of lost children from the wastland and helping them escape to a future with something resembling hope.

The films have everything we want from post-apocalyps cinema: innocents preyed upon by evil in the face of impotent or non-existent central authority; articulate super villains with disfigured faces and hockey masks; mohawked bikers with the accessory of the post-apocalypse--a catamite; genius homoculouses strapped to the back of mentally retarded behemouths, and TIna Turner in a dramatic role.  The second film lives on as few films do.  As a junior high student, Joe Hubris watched it countless times on HBO.  He dedicated more energy to imagining himself engaging the blower on that Ford as he fired a crossbow out the window than he ever did to his schoolwork.  It's a shame that the memory is now sullied by Gibson's disgusting subsequent conduct and personal revelations.

The most important thing to remember, however, is that films are a collaberative effort.  George Miller deserves credit for creating some of the most visually satisfying action sequences ever.  The vehicles become characters as does the road itself, as you see it flying toward you and the banshee wails of engines fill your ears.  The desert outback of Australia stands as the perfect post-apocalypse setting.  Its barren emptiness perfectly capture the sense of loss that will no doubt haunt any (un)lucky survivors.