Posts Tagged ‘San Andreas’

Much has been written about the feminism of Mad Max: Fury Road, but in light of my recent post noting that we still expect female musical artists to be all things to all people, the importance of seeing women onscreen in a wide variety of roles cannot be overstated. Young women, old women, pregnant women, women without arms, women who kill, women who die. When there is more than one woman with a speaking part in a movie, all of these representations are possible. Unlike movies where women die in order to provide motivation for men to become heroes, in Fury Road, women die because they are fighting for themselves.

As important as the numerous women in the movie is the way that they are framed. I am referring to the literal framing of each scene in the camera. In order to allow audiences to follow the action during fast cuts, director George Miller employed the use of “center framing,” in which the main focal point is in the center of each frame. Equally important was what he perceived the main focal point to be. This post compares the focal points of trailers for Fury Road to those of San Andreas and Avengers: Age of Ultron. The latter focuses on women’s bodies while the others focus on their faces. No amount of women will make a movie “feminist” if they are just there as objects for the male gaze.

To return to the title of this post, I should note that the actual future depicted in Fury Road is terrible, but Fury Road itself shows that an action movie centered on female characters can be successful on both cinematic and financial levels if they are treated as characters rather than objects. It is true that there is more room for racial diversity in Fury Road‘s cast, but on that front at least the “bad guys” are pale white instead of dark-skinned.

Maybe the real lesson of Fury Road is that the best big-budget action directors are those who have been making movies focused on animals for the past fifteen years. (Something about staring at penguins and pigs all day must wash away the need for objectification.) Until this is true, at least we have the miracle that is Mad Max: Fury Road.

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