Sometimes you don’t need dialog


B and I went to see Mad Max- Fury Road this weekend.  For those of you who enjoy an action packed movie full of explosions, car chases and apocalyptic world, go see it!  You won’t regret it.

 

Now for those of you who haven’t seen it, and want to avoid spoilers, bookmark this page and come back later.  Really it’s that important. I don’t want to ruin it for you.

 

 

 

 

So you’ve seen it?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

You’re sure?

 

 

 

 

 

 

If you’ve seen many of the other Mad Max movies, you can probably guess the general premise. Max gets captured by the baddies and has to escape. But even through the action, explosions and car chases, there’s something very different about this story (actually a few things but I’m only going to worry about one this time.)  There’s very little dialog in this  movie. In fact, I’d say there is only about 20 minutes of actual speaking in the entire thing!

In story telling–whether it’s writing or a movie–the audience relies on the dialog to know the inner workings of the character they are following. It’s an easy way to “get into the character’s head.” But with Fury Road, the actual speaking parts are sparse, clipped and only relay what is necessary.  There are no quippy lines, very little snark and very few lines that will be quoted by fans.

But unlike other movies, Fury Road doesn’t need it. There’s a focus to the story that other action flicks lack. Everything has to do with a simple word that Max himself says in the beginning of the movie:

Survival

Every action of every character circles around this one idea.

Max has survived on his own for possibly years, with very little interaction of other people, reducing much of his verbal communication to grunts and mumbles. His survival is only for himself.

Immortan Joe believes that to survive, he must rule with an iron fist and be a god to the people around him.

Furiosa has survived abduction and possibly abuse, and wishes to return to her homeland.

Nux at first believes that if he dies he will be reborn, but then realizes that he’s nothing to the man/god that he believed in. His idea of survival changes.

Even the five wives believe that escape is the only way to survive.

In a film like this, when everyone is focused on a single direction, it’s somehow easier to let action take the place of words. In this  movie, no one has to explain themselves unless they want to. (There was some introspection dialog but not much. The most important part was it was brief and to the point.)

Fury Road works because there isn’t a need to fill in silences with words. The constant action of the movie didn’t allow time for much introspection and conversation. If it were a different kind of movie with a different focus, the lack of dialog would work against it. But Fury Road works in the best possible way. It dove into the action and never let you get a full breath of air until the movie was over.

It’s quite a feat when you compare it to other modern action films. And while I don’t think it’s impossible to write a story like this, it would be much  more difficult.

It’s something to think about as you write.

 

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