Maschine Kunst

I was not very impressed with Mad Max: Fury Road, except that it had a laudable shortage of Mel Gibson and a great deal of Charlize Theron. I went to see it, however, because I know director Miller is a big fan of in-camera stunts and there’s real artistry in the over-the-topness of his movies.

steering wheel

Detail: steering wheel

Miller is one of those directors like my other favorites, Kubrick and Ridley Scott – there are stories of Scott making sure that the parking meters in “Blade Runner” were functional. I understand why: if you fully detail everything, you don’t have to worry about a compositional shift revealing a piece of duct tape or velcro. Their movies have a feeling of reality to them because they’re real. It’s that simple.



caltrop_3detail324x216Photographer John Platt got a chance to do unit stills of all the vehicles, before they went out and got all dirty and blown up. There are more here – I don’t need to link all the pictures, as much as I would like to.

Miller’s car klatsch is to have working vehicles and (mostly) working effects on them. The reason the suspensions and power-trains and whatnot look amazingly realistic is because these are working cars.

Shift knob

Shift knob

I have to admit I’m probably biassed: I love Platt’s lighting for these: a great big light to give huge smooth reflections, and a big spotlight on dove grey sweep to knock the objects off the background and give dimensionality. It’s a lighting set-up I use so much that my friends make fun of me.

Ah! The last of the V-8 Interceptors!

Ah! The last of the V-8 Interceptors!

Just go feast your eyes.


Again: the link is here.dividerIt’s interesting that we can say “Kubrick” and everyone knows we’re talking about the Stanley Kubrick. But we can’t say “Scott” and have everyone assume “Ridley.” I could probably say “Coppola” and everyone would know who I was talking about, too. I guess Scott should have changed his last name.

I wish these pictures were higher resolution, so we could enjoy all the detail, but I know that’s not possible in today’s internet. I’ve had the experience of seeing one of my photos used on a piece of product packaging at a store (hey!) and have had endless versions of my work grabbed and photoshopped on. Platt’s photos here would make terrific posters – and if he let us see higher resolution versions, you can bet there’d be some internet punk selling posters on a dozen websites. I actually don’t care about that so much anymore, except I get mad when they photoshop their name onto it, and stick their copyright on it (which really does happen!) I’ve even had internet punks complain to me for having “their” artwork pulled down off websites.

That must have been so darned fun to shoot.


  1. Rob Grigjanis says

    Random thought: Loved Scott’s The Duellists, hated Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon. Oh God so boring.

  2. says

    Those are amazing pieces. I especially like the shift knob. Wondering where I could get one and if Mr would agree to it .

    Btw, let me present with an n in exchange for the capital K and the space. Maschinenkunst.

  3. says

    Rob Grigjanis@#1:
    Random thought: Loved Scott’s The Duellists, hated Kubrick’s Barry Lyndon. Oh God so boring.

    The Duellists is one of my top favorite movies ever. Scott did it for next to nothing, really, and it’s such a fine performance. One of my favorite bits about it is watching how the uniforms evolve through the course of the napoleonic wars – the costumer for that movie did a great job of researching every jot and tittle of the officers’ patterns for the correct rank, unit, and time. The only part about the movie I didn’t think was great was the winter/Russia scenes looked pretty faked. Nowadays I’m sure Scott would have just flown a unit to Finland and told them to go freeze realistically…

    As far as Barry Lyndon: it has grown on me but I don’t need to watch it very much. My take (perhaps being over generous?) is that Kubrick is also making a point about the pace of life at the time. I feel like by compressing the high points of this guy’s life into a movie, we get some perspective on what a waste pursuits like social climbing are. I dunno… I just feel like the movie holds a mirror up to the viewer (don’t most?) and I’ve seen different things in it at different times. That’s probably trite, but there I said it.

  4. says

    PS – the weird pseudo-German “Maschine Kunst” and “Panzer Klatsch” are lifted from Battle Angel Alita (and shuffled around) – they are pseudo martial arts schools from the future war-desert-world she lives and fights on. So: I was being cute with the title, and probably failed.

  5. says

    I quite enjoyed the film, but it speaks volumes that my favorite bit is when the director decided to put the entire battle off screen, leaving us to watch a few explosions in the fog, like every July 4th in San Francisco.

    Big, dumb, loud, nonsensical. What’s not to love?

  6. says

    I was not very impressed with Mad Max: Fury Road…

    You lost me at that first incomprehensible sentence, but I forged on anyway. Perhaps the rest wouldn’t be a jumble of words that made no sense.

    I could probably say “Coppola” and everyone would know who I was talking about, too.

    Sophia, of course.

  7. says

    PS – the weird pseudo-German “Maschine Kunst” and “Panzer Klatsch”

    How does the meme go: You’re German, you’re watching an English language movie. Suddenly you don’t understand a word. Because they speak “German”.