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The Character Nux as a Microcosm of Mad Max: Fury Road

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Robin William D. Jessup

Dr. Whitney Monaghan

ATS 1305

25 March 2017 

The Character Nux as a Microcosm of Mad Max: Fury Road

          This analysis centres on the film segment from 27:12 to 30:08 which starts with a dust cloud that envelopes the war rig driven by Imperator Furiosa and the pursuit vehicle driven by Nux together with his blood bag Max and ends when the flare Nux wanted to use to ignite the fuel in his car dies out. 

          Nux represents the world of the film in a nutshell. Although Max would be the central character in the film, he does not represent the world as presented to us by the film. Max is an exception rather than the rule due to his health and physical attributes whereas Nux is sickly and pale (the name contrast between Max and Nux also gives us an interesting handle between the 2 characters). This segment highlights the pivotal role that Nux plays in the film and presents a useful character with which to comprehend the film. This segment presents us with a fast-paced narrative presenting a classical flow of causation and effect through the use of continuity editing (Cook 45) in a linear timeline that makes it easier for the audience to understand.

           The segment starts when the massive dust cloud envelopes the screen, eventually leading to the establishing shot of the massive storm system adding to the feel of the desolate landscape (Hill and Gibson 518) pervading the whole film. We would think of the mise-en-scene (Nelmes 63) as a reflection of the way Nux’s mind works. This massive landscape featuring an endless and hostile desert signifies his emptiness as a vessel and the dust cloud would be his purpose, to serve something bigger than himself. The atmosphere presented though (since it is a storm) is oppressive and heavy with a massive storm cloud that threatens to blow away everything in its’ path and threatens to choke you with the dust storm it carries with it. We might interpret this oppression as the power Immortan Joe holds over his dominion and the dust clouds (the higher purpose that Nux serves) chokes everything in sight because of the oppressive policies he implements like water rationing, slavery (owning the breeders) and his twisted belief system that he has successfully imposed on his followers. Examining the colours and hues used in the segment, they appear to be darker and warmer with dark orange and reddish hues evoking images of fire, war and conflict which essentially distils Nux’s profession as a war boy and the world he lives in. His world therefore is a contradiction of sorts, wide open spaces to go wherever you want but the limitations set by transport options, fuel, water availability and soil health (contributing to food production) limit the places you could stay and in these viable locations, oppression occurs since power would be in the hands of those who control these vital resources.

          Key lighting (Dix 18), in conjunction with make up and costume, also highlights and develops the way Nux is portrayed in the film and represent it as a whole. Intermittent flashes of lightning temporarily bleach facial features and flood everything in the scene with unnatural brightness further reinforcing the sickly state of Nux (giving it a ghostly or skeletal quality), with the use of shadows falling over the character as he is driving making his features gaunt. This lends itself to a feeling of the character being fatalistic and near death, reinforced by his exclamation, “What a day! What a beautiful day!” leading us to add “to die” giving the impression that Nux was ready to embrace death at that point in time (since he was already dying anyway as established earlier in the film and he would rather go out in a blaze of glory). Examining Nux’s costume, as with other war boys, their standard ensemble seems to be a shaved head, a generally naked upper body with white dust (used as medication) and black trousers with boots is meant to parallel an army uniform which is used to inspire esprit d corps in the unit. This again supports the premise of psychological manipulation and brainwashing on the part of Immortan Joe to perpetuate his stay in power, thus typifying a repressive state apparatus (Davis et al. 107). Nux’s vehicle also appears to be part of him, when his head nods in time with the bird skull on his dashboard signifying that he is the bird of prey about to bring death and destruction to Imperator Furiosa. Interestingly, production designer Colin Gibson designed the vehicles to “convey the dystopian universe of which they are a part” (Buckmaster 1). Since the vehicles are a part of that universe and Nux is the vehicle, Nux is therefore this universe.

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