By Mike Seibert
This last weekend, I had the opportunity to watch one of the last showings of Max Max: Fury Road – Black & Chrome Edition during its exclusive run at the Cinerama.
One of the advantages of working in downtown Seattle is my close proximity to the historic movie theatre. In fact, I pass the Cinerama every morning as I drive down 4th avenue. Opened in 1963, and renovated by owner Paul Allen in 1999, The Cinerama has become one of the very best places to see a movie in the Pacific Northwest. It also just happens to be my all-time favorite movie theatre.
When Mad Max: Fury Road roared into movie theatres in 2015, it dazzled audiences and critics alike with its harsh depiction of a post-apocalyptic wasteland filled with unsettlingly weird characters and their struggle to survive.
What blew me away when I first saw Fury Road was the intensity of the violence, the extensive use of practical special effects, and how explosively colorful it all was. Everything just looked gritty, used, and worn in this scorched-earth environment. I thought at the time that it was visionary director George Miller’s use of color specifically, how vividly saturated the searing reds, oranges, icy blues, and teals that made the movie so memorable.
So why black and white?
As it turns out, that was George Miller’s original vision the entire time. “One thing I’ve noticed is that the default position for everyone is to de-saturate post-apocalyptic movies,” he told Slashfilm. “There’s only two ways to go, make them black and white — the best version of this movie is black and white, but people reserve that for art movies now. The other version is to really go all-out on the color. The usual teal and orange thing? That’s all the colors we had to work with. The desert’s orange and the sky is teal, and we either could de-saturate it, or crank it up, to differentiate the movie.”
To promote the upcoming home video release of the monochrome version of Fury Road, now dubbed the Black & Chrome Edition, Mad Max, Imperator Furiosa, along with the War Boys and all of your other favorite characters were unleashed back into theatres for special showings in limited release. The Cinerama was the only theater in the Pacific Northwest that participated in this exclusive 10-day run.
— Seattle Cinerama (@SeattleCinerama) November 3, 2016
When director George Miller saw this monochrome cut of the film, he described it as “more authentic and elemental”. And I would be inclined to agree. What I found so arresting about seeing this version of the film were the stark contrasts. Typically in black and white movies, the images are in shades of gray. In Black & Chrome, nothing is gray; the whites glow like the blistering sun and the inky blacks are thick and murky. There were times watching the movie that I thought I’d miss the vivid colors, like the purple smoke flares or the intensity of the flame-throwing guitar, but I didn’t, because this presentation almost feels like a different movie.
I should also mention, just for clarification, that while this version is considered to be a “director’s cut” of Mad Max: Fury Road, the only difference is the black and white presentation. There is no additional footage or other alterations to the original theatrical cut of the movie. However, this doesn’t feel like the obligatory and unnecessary cash-grab re-releases that have become the latest trend. It’s new way to enjoy an already visually spectacular film in a way that director originally envisioned it. Highly recommended!
Mad Max: Fury Road – Black & Chrome Edition will be released on Blu-ray on December 9th, 2016 and will include both the theatrical cut and the black and white version of the film, along with special features. The Mad Max: High Octane Collection, which includes Mad Max, The Road Warrior, Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome and Mad Max: Fury Road, as well as the Black & Chrome Edition will also be available that same day. Now you know what to get me for Christmas!
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