Mad Max (1979)
Colour, mono, 93 minutes. Original aspect ratio 2.35:1, filmed in TODD-AO 35
Music by Brian May, winner of AFI award for best soundtrack.
Budget: A$400,000 ($350,000 film production budget, $50,000 promotion and advertising - Mel Gibson reportedly paid A$15,000)
Released: April 12, 1979. First released at the East End One, Melbourne.
View more production details in the Internet Movie Database.
To see some of the original Australian newspaper ads for Mad Max, visit the Mad Max advertising sub-page.
For a comparison of currently available releases, check the comparisons page. For more detailed information on the various releases, see below...
When the gangs take over the highways, remember, he's on your side
Different Releases on VHS and DVD
The MGM Special Edition DVD
A Special Edition DVD of Mad Max was released in the US on January 4th, 2002 (get current pricing at Amazon). If you want to buy Mad Max on DVD, I would recommend getting this version. It contains both the original dialogue and the dubbed dialogue, along with a commentary, trailers, and a couple of newly created documentaries.
Note that the US Blu-ray (Region A) also includes a copy of this DVD (the Blu-ray disc is just the film itself in HD, and you get all the extras from a copy of this DVD that is included). Note that the US Blu-ray is REGION CODED, so if you can't play Region A, don't bother. Blu-ray is also available in Australia, UK, etc as Region B - but that disc is film only (no extras), and is quite basically a direct copy of the US HD transfer anyway - right down to the AIP logo before the film. You can get current pricing on the US Mad Max Blu-ray at Amazon.
For the original MGM DVD, those of you who have it might also want to make sure you check out the Mad Max Easter Eggs listing.
Mad Max is readily available on DVD and Blu-ray at this point. If buying an older DVD, be aware that some earlier US and Canadian versions contained the dubbed audio track only (for further info on that, see below). At the start of 2001, there were only two DVD releases of Mad Max: the original US disc produced by Image / Orion (which has the dubbed dialogue only); and the Japanese DVD, which has BOTH the original audio track and the dubbed dialogue track, and was the first release to do so. See the Japanese DVD page for further info on this release. The dubbed only version is fairly scarce these days though. As for extras, most of the available releases contain nothing at all - if you want some extras, grab the MGM DVD (or Blu-ray) mentioned at the top.
The MGM SE DVD Release of Mad Max occurred on on January 4th 2002. This disc has been the only true "special edition" including a commentary track, documentaries, and a range of extras. Check the Special Edition DVD listing at Amazon for pictures of the cover.
There original UK (region 2) DVD release happened on October 8th 2002(see the Amazon UK listing), and the original Australian (region 4) release happened on November 14th 2002. Neither DVD included any extras.
Mad Max was readily available on VHS in most countries, and for a history of some of these releases, view the Mad Max on VHS page. Note that I am not aware of any VHS release that contained any different version of the film than what can be seen on DVD today, apart from one small audio error that has occured when they've remixed the soundtrack from mono to 5.1 surround. For info on the audio remix see below, for info on the audio that has now been omitted from all newer releases, see this video on YouTube.
The US Dubbed Release
Mad Max was dubbed when originally released in the United States, as the distributors felt that the original Australian dialogue was not clear enough to be easily understood. According to Sam Arkoff's biography, Flying Through Hollywood By The Seat Of My Pants, "...the exhibitors would consider anything that isn't 'American English' to be 'limey.' After the first reel, they'd decide not to book the picture".
All of the actors were dubbed, including Mel Gibson, who was still a relatively unknown actor in the U.S. at the time. The dubbed audio track can still be found on various DVD releases, including the MGM special edition listed at the top. The original Image / Orion DVD release (which had the dubbed audio only) is out of print now though, so you might need to try eBay if you really want it.
It has been rumoured that Mel Gibson was in fact dubbed by himself, this is unconfirmed. Note that Sam Arkoff's own biography specifically states that "Mel Gibson remained Down Under, and didn't participate in the looping".
It has also been rumoured that early releases of the film contained scene variations or additional scenes, which were not present in later releases. After spending much time tracking down the various early video releases (see the Mad Max VHS page for some further info), I have so far been unable to locate any such alternate cuts of the film. However, for a list of some alternate scenes which we at least know were filmed, please check the Mad Max cut scenes page. If anyone does locate a version with any additional scenes, please contact me.
In recent years MGM have obtained the distribution rights to Mad Max in the US, and have re-released Mad Max with a new audio mix, that finally contains all of the original voices and dialogue (except for the piece they missed, oops). They created a new 35mm theatrical print using this mix, which played in cinemas across the US during 1999 and 2000. This mix finally found its way onto the MGM special edition DVD, which includes this new audio mix as well as the dubbed version, along with some additional extras. This came out on January 4th, 2002. See Amazon.com for some further info.
The Censored UK Release
The original UK releases of Mad Max were censored, cutting out the Chevy Impala attack. The scene was cut from the point where the meat cleaver hits the windscreen, about 48 seconds I'm told. Later UK releases now include this scene, and often boast themselves as "unedited", "uncut" or even "director's cut", when in fact this version includes nothing more than what the rest of us have seen for years.
Media Promotional Material
- Theatrical trailers: Multiple trailers were made, but currently the only one available on any format is the one on the Japanese "Mad Max" DVD release. The US Special Edition DVD should also contain a trailer.
- Radio advertising: I have acquired three original radio ads for the USA release, they can be downloaded here.
Note: I'm constantly looking for any additional promotional material, such as TV interviews, radio interviews, printed matter, etc. Even if you remember an event or article, but don't actually have a copy, some brief info about what you remember would be just as good. I'm hoping to compile together a list of all this reference material, and hopefully one day have it all available online.