AustLit logo


person or book cover
Screen cap from promotional trailer
form y separately published work icon Mad Max : Beyond Thunderdome single work   film/TV   science fiction  
Is part of Mad Max 1979 series - author film/TV (number 3 in series)
Issue Details: First known date: 1985... 1985 Mad Max : Beyond Thunderdome
The material on this page is available to AustLit subscribers. If you are a subscriber or are from a subscribing organisation, please log in to gain full access. To explore options for subscribing to this unique teaching, research, and publishing resource for Australian culture and storytelling, please contact us or find out more.

AbstractHistoryArchive Description

Some fifteen years after the events of Mad Max 2, when civilisation has been all but destroyed by the nuclear war, former policeman Max continues to roam the Australian desert, this time in a camel-drawn vehicle. When father-and-son thieves Jebediah Senior and Junior use their jury-rigged airplane to steal his possessions and his means of transportation, Max makes his way to Bartertown. A cesspool of post-apocalyptic capitalism powered by methane-rich pig manure, Bartertown is ruled by two competing overlords: Aunty Entity and Master (who rides around on the back of his hulking underling, Blaster). Seeking to re-equip himself, Max strikes a deal with the haughty Aunty to kill Blaster in ritualised combat inside Thunderdome, a giant jungle gym where Bartertown's conflicts are played out in a postmodern update of bread and circuses. Although Max manages to fell the mighty Blaster, he refuses to kill him after realising Blaster has a developmental disability. Aunty's henchmen murder Blaster anyway, and then punish Max for violating the law of Thunderdome: 'two men enter, one man leaves.' Lashed to the back of a hapless pack animal and sent out into a sandstorm to die, Max is rescued by a band of tribal children and teens. The descendants of the victims of an airplane crash, the kids inhabit a lush valley and wait for the day when Captain Walker, the plane's pilot, will return to lead them back to civilisation. Some of the children refuse to believe that the glorious cities of their mythology no longer exist, and set off in search of civilisation on their own. Max and three tribe members subsequently set out to rescue them from Bartertown and Aunty Entity.




  • The trailer for this film is available on YouTube: (Sighted: 14/6/2012)

Affiliation Notes

  • Preppers and Survivalism in the AustLit Database

    This work has been affiliated with the Preppers and Survivalism project due to its relationship to either prepping or prepper-inflected survivalism more generally, and contains one or more of the following:

    1. A strong belief in some imminent threat
    2. Taking active steps to prepare for that perceived threat

    • A range of activities not necessarily associated with ‘prepping’ take on new significance, when they are undertaken with the express purpose of preparing for and/or surviving perceived threats, e.g., gardening, abseiling.
    • The plausibility of the threat, and the relative “reasonable-ness” of the response, don’t affect this definition. E.g., if someone is worried about climate change and climate disasters, and they respond by moving from a riverbank location in Cairns, or to a highland region of New Zealand, this makes them a prepper. If someone else is worried about brainwashing rays from outer space, and they respond by making a tinfoil hat, that makes them a prepper. 

    3. A character or characters (or text) who self-identify as a ‘prepper’, or some synonymous/modified term: ‘financial preppers’, ‘weekend preppers’, ‘fitness preppers’, etc.

    As a tier two work, this text has been identified as key to prepping in a broader, more conceptual relationship. These texts have been classified as ‘key’ prepper-adjacent texts that are important to prepping, even if they themselves are not about prepping or do not include preppers. These texts have been identified in the database through various means such as interviews with preppers, scholarship on preppers, and online prepper forums.

Publication Details of Only Known VersionEarliest 2 Known Versions of

Works about this Work

y separately published work icon Trauma and Disability in Mad Max : Beyond the Road Warrior’s Fury Mick Broderick , Katie Ellis , Oxford : Oxford University Press , 2019 18451060 2019 multi chapter work criticism

'This book explores the inter-relationship of disability and trauma in the Mad Maxfilms (1979-2015). George Miller’s long-running series is replete with narratives and imagery of trauma, both physical and emotional, along with major and minor characters who are prominently disabled. The Mad Max movies foreground representations of the body – in devastating injury and its lasting effects – and in the broader social and historical contexts of trauma, disability, gender and myth.

'Over the franchise’s four-decade span significant social and cultural change has occurred globally. Many of the images of disability and trauma central to Max’s post-apocalyptic wasteland can be seen to represent these societal shifts, incorporating both decline and rejuvenation. These shifts include concerns with social, economic and political disintegration under late capitalism, projections of survival after nuclear war, and the impact of anthropogenic climate change.

'Drawing on screen production processes, textual analysis and reception studies this book interrogates the role of these representations of disability, trauma, gender and myth to offer an in-depth cultural analysis of the social critiques evident within the fantasies of Mad Max.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

Mad Max and Disability : Australian Gothic, Colonial, and Corporeal (Dis)possession Dawn Stobbart , 2018 single work criticism
— Appears in: Studies in Gothic Fiction , vol. 6 no. 1 2018; (p. 65-72)

'The Australian landscape has a long Gothic history, as Gerry Turcotte writes: “long before the fact of Australia was ever confirmed by explorers and cartographers it had already been imagined as a grotesque space, a land peopled by monsters” (10). This grotesque space is brought into focus through the films, the graphic novel, and the videogame of the Mad Max franchise and transposed onto this landscape are survivors and remnants of society, many of whom are coded as disabled. These characters are set against the omnipresent Australian landscape, an unwelcoming land that opposes their very existence, yet whose presence compliments it. This paper will focus on the literary understanding of disability to explore the preponderance of physical differences in the Mad Max franchise. It will focus primarily on the latest releases, dealing with the Fury Road portion of the series, where living with physical impairment is a banal reality. This paper will ask whether the Gothic landscape of the Australian Outback in Mad Max codes the characters as disabled, or whether it is the able bodied characters that are outside the norm, as well as considering the positive (or negative) implications of representations of disability in the franchise.'

Source: Publisher's blurb.

Nowhere to Run: Repetition Compulsion and Heterotopia in the Australian Post-apocalypse – From 'Crabs' to Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome Claire Corbett , 2017 single work criticism
— Appears in: Science Fiction Film and Television , vol. 10 no. 3 2017; (p. 329-351)

'This article argues that despite the genre status of the Mad Max films as post-apocalyptic sf, the driving force behind many of the images and concerns of the films derives from aspects of Australian history since colonisation. The article compares the way these themes appear in the Mad Max films to the way they are explored in ‘Crabs’, a 1972 short story by Australian writer Peter Carey. This story was later filmed as Dead End Drive-In, a film which itself draws on the aesthetic already developed through the Mad Max films. I use Freud’s theory of repetition compulsion to explore ways in which history is both remembered and deliberately forgotten through imagery that is dislocated from the past to the ‘future’ and thus in effect to a timeless, ever-present or ever-recurring time. The article also argues that Foucault’s concept of heterotopia (a space that is populated by a selected, heterogenerous group such inmates in a prison), describes the reality of the penal colonies forming the origins of settler Australia. The colony’s status as heterotopia has led to a pervasive sense of the ‘irreality’ of Australia for many non-Indigenous Australians, expressed through numerous artworks: a sense that there is no ‘there’ out there, nowhere to run.' (Publication abstract)

What Do Mad Max's Six Oscars Mean for the Australian Film Industry? Vincent O'Donnell , 2016 single work column
— Appears in: The Conversation , 1 March 2016;
'The career of Dr George Miller reminds me of that of Charles Chauvel, one of the greatest showmen of the Australian cinema. Both men – though separated by many decades – have employed epic cinematic forms and nationalistic themes. ...'
'There Is Still Time … Brother' : Antipodean Cinema and Nuclearism in the Mid-to-Late Cold War Mick Broderick , 2016 single work criticism
— Appears in: Historical Journal of Film, Radio and Television , March vol. 36 no. 1 2016; (p. 53-67)
Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome Greg Callaghan , 2004 single work review
— Appears in: The Weekend Australian Magazine , 13-14 March 2004; (p. 10)

— Review of Mad Max : Beyond Thunderdome Terry Hayes , George Miller , 1985 single work film/TV
y separately published work icon The Mad Max Movies Adrian Martin , Strawberry Hills : Currency Press ScreenSound Australia , 2003 Z1040121 2003 single work criticism "Martin compares the three Mad Max movies and shares his views on which works best and why. In a chapter dedicated to each film, he looks at their critical reception and their themes, examines Miller's shooting techniques and provides a shot-by-shot analysis of integral scenes."--Currency Press Newsletter, April, 2003
y separately published work icon Not Quite Hollywood : The Wild, Untold Story of Ozploitation! Paul Harris , Collingwood : Madman Entertainment , 2008 Z1636275 2008 single work criticism (taught in 1 units)

Not Quite Hollywood is the story of Ozploitation.

More explicit, violent and energetic than anything out of Hollywood, Aussie genre movies such as Alvin Purple, The Man From Hong Kong, Patrick, Mad Max and Turkey Shoot presented a unique take on established cinematic conventions.

In England, Italy and the grindhouses and Drive-ins of North America, audiences applauded our homegrown marauding revheads with their brutish cars; our sprnky well-stacked heroines and our stunts - unparalleled in their quality and extreme danger!

Busting with outrageous anecdotes, trivia and graphic poster art - and including isights from key cast, crew and fans - including Quentin Tarantino - this is the wild, untold story of an era when Aussie cinema got its gear off and showed the world a full-frontal explosion of boobs, pubes, tubes...and even a little kung fu!

The Polysemous Coathanger : The Sydney Harbour Bridge in Feature Film, 1930-1982 Lennart Jacobsen , 2006 single work criticism
— Appears in: Senses of Cinema , July - September no. 40 2006;
'The cinema has long been attracted to photographing great cultural icons. This article provides a thorough account of the celluloid life of one of Australia's most distinctive landmarks.' (Publisher's abstract)
What Do Mad Max's Six Oscars Mean for the Australian Film Industry? Vincent O'Donnell , 2016 single work column
— Appears in: The Conversation , 1 March 2016;
'The career of Dr George Miller reminds me of that of Charles Chauvel, one of the greatest showmen of the Australian cinema. Both men – though separated by many decades – have employed epic cinematic forms and nationalistic themes. ...'
'We Don't Need to Know the Way Home' : Selling Australian Space in the Mad Max Trilogy Delia Falconer , 1994 single work criticism
— Appears in: Southern Review , March vol. 27 no. 1 1994; (p. 28-44)
Last amended 13 Feb 2024 13:25:11