There's a Museum in the Australian Outback Dedicated to Mad Max
Aug 29 2014
At first glance, the idea of a Mad Max 2 museum seems as absurd as a museum for Caddyshack 2 or Men in Black 3. Granted, the film Americans call The Road Warrior is a lot more exciting than Men in Black 3, and oddly enough, funnier than Caddyshack 2. I dare you not to every time you see the Lord Humungus's form-fitting leather underwear. With a new entry in the series on deck for next year, it almost makes sense as a long-term investment in a long-dormant franchise.
Still, who would go to all the trouble of building a shrine to a sequel, even if it's one of the greatest follow-ups in movie history? Adrian Bennett would, and he did. Bennett shuttled his entire family from England to Australia, purchased land in the middle of the Outback, and built a repository for memorabilia from a 33-year-old movie about the end of the world. I decided to ask him what the hell he was thinking.
VICE: Why build a museum solely for one movie in the middle of nowhere?
Adrian Bennett: The idea for the museum came after my first visit, when to my surprise there was absolutely nothing to pay homage to Mad Max 2, let alone all the other movies filmed in the region. After all, this was supposed to be the Hollywood of the Outback, but there wasn't anything from any of the movies that gave you any indication that big movies were filmed here. We're talking about the biggest movie Australia has ever produced, the movie that shook Hollywood up, the movie that put Australia on the map. But no, not one thing. So I decided it was my destiny to build a museum dedicated to Mad Max 2.
The website for Silverton, Australia, lists your museum as the world's first and only Mad Max 2 museum. This might also be the world's only museum dedicated to a sequel. Why just Mad Max 2?
The museum is all Mad Max 2 purely because that's the only Mad Max movie that was shot here, so anything from the other two movies would not really be relevant to the area.
What about Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome? The consensus is that it's terrible.
As a movie, Beyond Thunderdome is OK, but not really a Mad Max movie as such. The whole attraction of the original two movies was the car action which appealed to the fans due to the massive car culture in Australia and the US, but after the death of the producer Byron Kennedy in 1983, who was the car nut, this appeal was lost. I think it lost its way a bit, but is still an enjoyable film.
What did your family say when you told them you were moving to the Australian desert to open a museum dedicated to a movie from the 80s?
In 2004, my wife and three of our sons set off on a holiday for Australia but more importantly to visit the sites of the first two films. The first week we spent touring the Mad Max sites around West Melbourne, which was fantastic, but for me the highlight would be visiting Broken Hill and Silverton for the locations of Mad Max 2.
We arrived in Broken Hill, then headed out to Silverton for the sunset at the Mundi Mundi lookout, location for the opening chase and climax of the movie. It was breathtaking. It was at that point I knew I needed to live there, it felt like I had come home.
So after a long two years, we eventually moved to Adelaide, which was part of the visa requirements, but I spent most of my spare time travelling the six hours to Broken Hill and Silverton.
I would constantly push my wife Linda to make the move to either Broken Hill or Silverton, but it was hard for her at first because she had already moved halfway around the world, away from her large family of which she was missing, so I decided not to pursue it and just be happy living the six hours away. I don't really have any close family back in the UK so I didn't have the same feelings as Linda, plus I was in Mad Max heaven.
After three years in Adelaide, Linda had a change of heart and gave the go-ahead to move to Silverton after a property came up for sale. At that time there were about 50 people living in Silverton. There are only about 35 now.
The property we purchased was an old house built around 1887 and needed quite a bit of restoration, but with it came a nice sized bit of land which was perfect for my idea to build a Mad Max museum.
When were you able to officially open the museum?
In 2009 we started work on the museum. We had to build the entire structure, which was 30 feet wide by 100 feet long. We have since extended another 30 feet to accommodate extra displays. The museum opened in September 2010 and over the last four years has grown into what it is today with the help of the generosity of people who have approached us with other pieces of memorabilia from the film. We are still growing!
Silverton, Australia, is a very, very small town in the middle of the Australian Outback. Do you sometimes wake up and feel like you're in Mad Max? What is living in such a desolate environment like?
Silverton is a dusty old mining town which does appear to be isolated but it's only 14 miles from Broken Hill, which has a population of 18,000. Silverton's stunning, and you can clearly see why filmmakers are drawn here. On average Silverton gets around 120.000 visitors each year, so we don't have time to get bored!
How did you initially get into Mad Max?
A couple of friends of mine had already been to see them the previous night and were explaining to me about these two "biker" movies. I was 18 at the time and heavily involved in building and riding custom motorcycles. So after a bit of persuasion, they both convinced me to go see them. I was more interested in getting out on the bike for a few beers at the pub.
From the opening credits of Mad Max to the closing credits of Mad Max 2, my jaw was on the floor. I couldn't believe what I had just seen, the effect they had on me was incredible. They were the most unique, original films I had ever seen... and Australian! They seemed to just grab a hold of me and not let go. I couldn't think straight, all I thought about from then on were these two films. Who made them? Who were the actors?
And then what?
In 2000, I purchased an Australian Falcon coupe from Texas, and had it shipped to England. Over the next 18 months, I transformed it into an Interceptor, the car Max drives in the two movies. The only replica in Europe at that time. But my real ambition was to visit the movie sites of the first two films.
How did you collect everything you have on display? I'm assuming, especially with the first film, there wasn't a system for storing props.
A lot of original stuff we have on display is either purchased, loaned, or donated by either people who ended up with bits and pieces or people who worked on the film. Some other items I've found out at the locations by just [rummaging] around.
How many pieces of memorabilia do you have in your collection?
It is hard to say how many pieces I have in the display, but let's say we are struggling for space!
What's the rarest thing that you have?
There are two items in particular that are extremely valuable to me and they are the original boomerang and music box that the Feral Kid had in the movie.
Obviously, a major part of the Mad Max franchise was Mel Gibson. Did you see any dropoff in attendance after his meltdown?
For most fans, Mad Max was about the stunts, the cars, the action and not really Mel Gibson. He was great in the role, but didn't carry the movie. So even though he went through a bad period in his life and got some bad press, it hasn't in any way affected the museum or fans of the film. I still think Mel Gibson is a great actor and talented director, and still think he has a lot to offer in the future in regards to filmmaking.
What was your reaction when the role of Max in Mad Max: Fury Road went to Tom Hardy?
When I heard Tom Hardy was cast in the new movie I was elated. I can't think of a more fitting actor to bring this reboot to life. Tom is an incredible actor whose screen presence draws you into a movie. He steals every scene. He'll make a great Max.
Have you see the Fury Road trailer, and if so, what are your thoughts? Are you looking forward to the movie or are you skeptical?
This film will be incredible; the film that George Miller wanted to make all those years ago but didn't have the budget or technology [to execute]. What we must also realize is that although this is the fourth installment, it really isn't a follow-up to the other three movies. It's a new Max based on the Max we all know with characters and a world we are familiar with, but updated for the times. That's how it should be viewed.
There has been a lot of concern that the film won't have the same feel as the others, but we're talking over 30 years on and filmmaking has changed dramatically since then. This is a big budget movie made for this time, and if the trailer is anything to go on then we're in for a very exciting ride. I can tell you, I'll be first in line at the cinema.
Do you think attendance at the museum will rise after the release of Fury Road?
Yes I think attendance will increase at the museum after the new movies release. I think it will introduce a new audience to the Mad Max phenomenon and generate interest in the earlier three movies all over again.
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