Thursday, May 28, 2015

More Fury

I've been reading the trickle of views and reactions to Mad Max lately, the usually flood of post first-take reactions. It's interesting. Favorite one: http://io9.com/do-you-realize-mad-max-fury-road-is-a-miracle-1707000166

There've been a number of them, though, that interest me from a writing standpoint. Chuck Wendig's recent post about how it breaks any number of writing rules was interesting. His tongue, I suspect, was planted firmly in cheek.

The movie's interesting from a pacing standpoint. You would think a two hour movie which is roughly 90% action (and that's including the credits roll at the end, really this movie is relentless), would be dull, but the pacing is pretty incredible.

A story should have a sort of flow to it, the experts say. Action, break, action, break, action, break. Etc.

Mad Max is action, action, action, action.

Thing is, it isn't. Not really.

Pacing is a lot like skinning the cat. There's many...wait, I've always hated the metaphor. Who the hell skins cats, anyway? Gross.

Any way, there's many ways to pace a scene, particularly in a movie when you have a number of tools available which aren't available in fiction.

In this case, there's many different types of action and the movie deftly switches between them constantly, with a keen eye towards the typical audience member's attention span. Fist fights, differently staged set pieces. Action scenes transitioning towards new shooting locations. You've got visually different parts of the vehicle. Musical changes. Changes in day/night. It keeps things moving.

It's somewhat awe-inspiring, much like watching an expert comedian play the crowd during a longer set. You're there for one reason, but the person pulling the strings has a deep enough appreciation of the genre they can vary the pacing easily.

Mad Max is a song written by someone with a deep enough knowledge of the visual action genre that they can distinguish between notes on the minor and major scale. It's worth studying on that level alone.

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