Saturday, January 16, 2010

George Miller

George Miller might fit in with the movie people I added on July 14. But I do see a children's author coming up on my list. While I was adding a bunch of names at once, I might have switched from movie folks to books folks.

Well, Lord Wiki has let me know that we're still in the film business.

George Miller has a lot of stuff that's familar to me on his filmography: Mad Max, Babe, Happy Feet, Nightmare at 20,000 Feet, The Year My Voice Broke, Lorenzo's Oil and The Witches of Eastwood. Those are the ones I've heard of.

Baby George was born in Brisbane on 3 March 1945. It seems to me that most of the directors, I've written about lately, were born in the 1940's. His parents were Greek immigrants. Daddy Miller Anglicized his name when he came over. It was originally Miliotis. My grandfather did the same thing. Our original last name was Rabinovitz, although I'm not sure if I spelled that right.

Miller has a fraternal twin, and two younger brothers.

For school, Miller attended Ipswich Grammar School and Sydney Boys High School. I guess they moved? Or maybe he did boarding school. Well, no Sydney Boys High School is actually a government school...if I'm reading this right. I don't think government schools usually have boarding. The family likely moved.

Miller and his twin brother went to the University of New South Wales to study medicine. I wonder why and how they decided to do that together?

In 1971, while still in medical school, Miller and one of his younger brothers made a film short together. It won first prize in a student competition. Go Miller Brothers!

Miller decided he liked this film thing. He attended a film conference in Melbourne. There he met a guy named Byron Kennedy. The two became friends, and would later work together on the Mad Max movies. Unfortunately, in 1983, Kennedy died in a helicopter crash.

Miller continued with the medical stuff in the early 1970's. He did his residency at St. Vincent's. In his free time, he did movie stuff. Wow. I'm guessing the guy didn't do much sleeping.

I think anyone who uses that annoying line, Well, If I had more free time I would (write a novel, learn to paint, clean out my closet, etc) they should remember what George Miller accomplished.

Yeah. I know some people DO have a hell of a lot on their plate. But I'm betting if they TRULY wanted to do something, they'd find time to do it.

Anyway, Lord Wiki doesn't really have much other stuff. I guess I'll go and find some articles, interviews, and whatever.

Here's a 2008 article about Miller. It talks about how his projects are so varied. Yeah. I guess Mad Max is a bit different from Happy Feet. It looks like he has several upcoming projects that are going to be done in Australia.

Here's some interesting government finance stuff. The Australian government gives a major tax break to filmmakers filming in Australia...IF the movies are significantly Australian. That makes sense to me. There's a difference between movies filmed in Australia, and movies that are filmed in Australia AND are about Australia. For example, The Matrix was filmed in Australia. But there's not really anything Australian about it. When I saw it, I had no idea it was Australia that I was seeing.

Miller tried to make a Justice League movie. He figured that being a Aussie director would give him the tax break. But it didn't. Having an Australian director apparently isn't enough. I agree with that though. I understand the government wanting to save the money for films that are more Australian-oriented.

There were rumors that they were going to change the name of the movie from Justice League of America to just plain Justice League. Well, because that would make it oh so much more Australian. The writer of the article says, Personally, that sounds like nonsense to me. If you’re making a movie based on something called Justice League of America and are simply taking the “America” out, that doesn’t all of a sudden make you a kangaroo-hunting Aussie.

I think I've had my first good laugh of the day.

It looks like there's going to be another Mad Max movie. This ABC article has some information about it. Oh, it's Mad Max 4.  I didn't realize there had already been a third one. I've never seen any of them, really. But I do remember the Tina Turner song.

At the time of the article (October 2009), Miller had been working on casting. I wonder if Mel Gibson is going to be in it.

Filming is set to begin in New South Wales in August 2010.

Oh, Miller won't say if Gibson is in it or not. My guess is that he will be in it. I might be wrong though.

I'd put Hugo Weaving in it. I can totally picture him in that type of movie. He has that certain look. But then again, maybe he'd fit too well. It's too predictable. Maybe it should be one of those shocking casting choices, the ones that make all the fans protest in anger. But then they see the movie and declare it to have perfect casting.

The movie is not going to be called Mad Max 4. It's going to be called Fury Road.

While we're on the subject, I'm going to look into all this Mad Max stuff.

The first one was released in 1979. It's a
apocalyptic future type movie. Well, I think I knew that. There are violent motorcycle gangs terrorizing the highways. Max (Mel Gibson) is a policeman who's best friend and family are hurt/killed by the gangs. He decides to seek justice.

Miller was nominated for best directing and since Byron Kennedy produced it, he received the best picture nomination. They didn't win though. My Brilliant Career was the big winner that year. It must have been a big year for Mel Gibson. He won best actor; not for Mad Max, but for Tim.

I thought the movie had been filmed in Broken Hill. But according to IMDb, most of it wasLink done in various places around Victoria. Never mind. I just looked back at the ABC article. The SECOND installment was done in Broken Hill.

The IMDb trivia page has a lot of treasures.

George Miller was inspired by a 1975 movie called A Boy and His Dog. It sounds familar to me. Don Johnson plays a post nuclear survivor. He has a telepathic dog. Here's the trailer.

That's very interesting.

Mel Gibson didn't plan to audition for the movie. He came with a friend. Isn't that a common story? I know I've seen it before. Anyway, he was all bruised up from a recent fight. The casting people liked his look and thought it would fit the movie. They asked him to come back to audition in a few weeks. By that time his injuries had healed and they didn't recognize him.

There's a lot of car information. I don't really care about it. The only thing interesting to me is that Miller ended up using his own car because of budget reasons. His van was smashed for the scene, so I guess we could say he SACRIFICED his own car. That's noble of him.

Now I'm seeing what Lord Wiki has to say about the new movie. He says Mel Gibson won't be in it. A British actor named Tom Hardy will be taking the role.

Lord Wiki says Miller had been an emergency room doctor. He saw injuries that helped him create injuries for the film.

The movie did well internationally, but was pretty much rejected by America. I guess though eventually America picked up interest in it.

One of the things most notable about the films is that it had a very high profit. The movie was low budget, but it made a LOT of money. Lord Wiki says it was in the Guinness Book of World Records for highest profit-to-cost ratio. Recently, Paranormal Activity broke that record.

Like Patrick, Mad Max was dubbed for Americans. See, back was believed that Americans would self-destruct if they heard an Australian accent. Apparently, we didn't get the Aussie version until 2000. Wow.

Here's the trailer with the American accents. Did Americans think the movie took place in America? Is location not specified? Or did Americans believe that Australians have American accents?

Here's the first ten minutes of the film with Australian accents. I'll watch it while I continue to do research. I like the music. It was done by that Brian May guy.

It looks pretty wild.

Mad Max 2 came out in 1981. From what I read from Lord Wiki, petrol plays a central role. It has become a rare and wanted commodity.

It looks like this movie was better received by Americans. The critics liked the movie, and Americans started noticing Mel Gibson.

The movie won best international film from the American Saturn Awards and Los Angeles Film Critics Association. And Miller won best director from AFI.

The IMDb trivia page says that in America, the movie was not called Mad Max 2 because few people had heard of the first Mad Max. Instead they called it Road Warrior. I wonder if they dubbed that movie as well.

Here's a trailer for the movie.

The third Mad Max movie came out in 1985. It was called Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. This is the one that featured Tina Turner. I thought she just sang for the movie, but she starred it in as well.

Lord Wiki says that Byron Kennedy died when doing location scouting for the movie. Since that was Miller's friend, his heart wasn't really into making the movie. Therefore, he directed only parts of the film. Another director named George Ogilvie helped with the rest.

The movie ended up being filmed in a variety of places including Glebe, the Blue Mountains, and Coober Pedy.

The IMDb trivia page says that originally the movie was not a Mad Max film. It was just going to be about orphaned children living in the wilderness. They tried to decide what adult would find these kids. Someone suggested Mad Max. Then it became a Mad Max film. Who was planning to make this film though? George Miller and Byron Kennedy? Were they planning to make a totally different film, and then decided to make it another one of their Mad Max things? OR did someone else have the idea, and then approached Miller and Kennedy about it.

Here's a trailer for the movie.

All right...enough of Mad Max for now. I'm going to look at other George Miller movies.

Between Mad Max 2 and Mad Max 3, Miller made a miniseries about the dismissal. Here's something interesting. That guy who helped direct the third Mad Max film had an acting role in the movie. He played a senator. I wonder if that's how the two George's met each other. It might be. I'm looking at George Ogilvie's IMDb entry, and it looks like this is the first project in which he worked with Miller.

In 1983, Miller directed the last segment in the movie version of The Twilight Zone. This is the one with John Lithgow. I've seen it, and love it. I love all the segments, but especially the one with the old people turning into little children. My sister and I had a thing for that, and we used to recite the lines.

I was too old to see Haley's comment. I was going to see it when I was eighty-years-old.

Oh! Remember the classic intro. Do you want to see something really scary?

It's very sad about the first segment and the helicopter accident.

Yikes. Helicopter accident has come up twice in this entry. I don't think I like helicopter accident synchronosity.

Miller directed the segment called Nightmare at 20,000 Feet. Here's a bit of a clip. I love it. For those who haven't seen it, it's about a scared airline passenger who's convinced there's a gremlin on the wing trying to cause a plane accident. The flight attendants believe he's insane. Is he, or isn't he? That is the question.

Oh! This is funny. The trivia page says that they made reference to the film in Third Rock From the Sun. John Lithgow, the star of that series, was also the scared airline passenger in the Twilight Zone.

The movie segment is a remake of an episode of the Twilight Zone. William Shatner starred in that. When he guest-starred on Third Rock From the Sun, Lithgow's character asked him how his flight was. Shatner replied. Terrible. I could have sworn I saw a man on the wing of the plane. Lithgow replies, The Same thing happened to me!

Oh cool!  YouTube actually has the scene. The lines start at around :40. I miss Third Rock From the Sun. I'm getting all nostalgic now.

I'm watching my favorite Twilight Zone segment now. I love the music by Jerry Goldsmith. It's making me a little teary-eyed.

I should move on, although it's difficult for me.

In 1987, Miller made The Witches of Eastwick. I think I've seen parts of that. Here's the trailer. I get a feeling it has some connection to Desperate Housewives. I don't know if I read that somewhere...maybe people had compared the two things at one point.

Miller directed Lorenzo's Oil in 1992. I remember that movie, but I never saw it. It's about a boy who has a rare disease, and his parents try to cure him themselves. It's based on a true story. The IMDb trivia page says that although Lorenzo did die, it didn't happen until he was thirty. The doctors had predicted that he would die in childhood.

Miller helped write the screenplay, and received an Oscar nomination for that. He probably used some of his doctor training as inspiration.

Lord Wiki talks about the story, and it sounds very inspiring to me. It's about one family trying to save their child despite all the skeptics telling them they're foolish. They had no previous medical background. I LOVE it because it goes against our society's whole leave-it-to-the-experts mentality. And it goes against the ugly characters in our society that viciously bash those who have a controversial idea.

Here's the trailer. It looks beautiful. The woman at 1:18 sounds like people I've heard in the blogging world regarding vaccines. Heaven forbid someone without a medical degree have an opinion about the issue.

In 1997, Miller directed 40,000 Years Of Dreaming. The title made me think it was about Aboriginal Australia. But it looks like it's about the history of Australian film. Oh, the plot description on IMDb seems to say the title was chosen on purpose. In the film, Miller talks about how the movies can be seen as songlines. Okay. That makes sense.

I think this is a scene from it. Miller talks about getting a flush toilet, and how that was so exiting. Perfect strangers would come to the house so they could see it.

It's a good video. Miller talks about Jung and the collective consciousness, and how Mad Max taped into the whole hero mythology.

Oh! This is awesome. He talks about how they wanted to use Aboriginal land in the movie. The Aboriginal elders weren't eager to give their permission. Miller and folks described the movie's plot to them. The Aboriginal elders were familiar with the story. It tapped into their mythology as well.

I'm not explaining this well. Really. Please just watch the video.

Before I go onto talk about Miller's family-oriented movies, I just want to mention he produced some big Australian movies and miniseries: The Cowra Breakout; The Year My Voice Broke; Dead Calm, Bangkok Hilton, and some other stuff I've never heard of before.

Jack and I talked about Babe at lunch today, as I struggled to remember what it was all about. I told him it was about talking pig, but then I decided it wasn't really a my-pig-can-talk movie. I don't think Babe talked to the humans. Right? I think it was like Charlotte's Web. We hear what the animals are saying to each other.

I don't remember if we knew the movie was Australian or not. Maybe? I think I liked it. The reason I say this is I remember seeing the sequel and not liking it. I remember thinking it wasn't good like the first one. So that means I must have liked the first one.

Oh, wait. Miller didn't even direct the first one. He just produced it. He also helped to write the screenplay.

I like what the IMDb trivia page says about James Cronwell. He was vegetarian. After the movie, he became vegan. That's pretty awesome. I wonder if the movie inspired anyone else to become vegan or vegetarian.

The movie received an Oscar nomination for Best Picture. Miller lost to another whose career he helped to launch!

Babe did win a Golden Globe for best musical/comedy.

The movie won and was nominated by many award-giving organizations. I'm too lazy to name them all.

Lord Wiki says once again, Australian accents were dubbed over by American voices. What the HELL! I thought by the 1990's, Americans would be over this issue already. I don't know if I should blame the typical American. It might have been the fault of the movie boss people. I don't know. Although maybe they made these decisions based on test audiences. Then it WOULD be the fault of the typical American.

Here is the trailer.

Now some of the actors ARE American so they wouldn't have been dubbed. The voice of Babe was done by an American woman. James Cronwell is American. I guess that's why Lord Wiki says the movie was PARTIALLY dubbed.

George Miller did direct the sequel....Babe: Pig in the City.

This is cool. I don't remember it. But the IMDb trivia page says that the view from Babe's city window includes The Hollywood sign, The Sydney Opera House, the Statue of Liberty, Big Ben, The Eiffel Tower, etc. It's supposed to give the idea that he's in a general metropolis rather than a specific city.

The movie has a reference to the Eternity guy in Sydney. There's a billboard with the famous words written on them.

Lord Wiki says the movie got very mixed reviews. Some people didn't like that it was much darker than the first. I'm referring to theme and mood....not lighting. I guess maybe I was one of those people.

Here's Siskel and Ebert reviewing the film. They loved it. They can't stop singing its praises.

Peter Gabriel did an Oscar-nominated song for the movie.

I'm feeling pressure to give this movie a second chance. Maybe one day I will.

Happy Feet appeared in 2006. Jack said that he and Tim saw this while I was at a baby shower.

In 2011, there's going to be a Happy Feet sequel. Cool. Although IMDb has Brittany Murphy starring in it. I wonder if she already completed that work. She was in the first movie as well. I didn't realize that.

The movie won an Oscar for best animated film. I didn't know that. Or maybe I did. I probably just forgot.

I think the best animated film category is new. Isn't it?

Yeah. Lord Wiki says it appeared in 2001. The first winner was Shrek. Tim was watching that the other night. The winner for 2008 was Wall-E.

The IMDb trivia page says Happy Feet has live action sequences. I didn't know that.

Here's the trailer. It looks very cute.

Besides the two sequels coming up, Miller is also scheduled to do The Odyssey. Brad Pitt is rumored to star in that. We'll see what happens.

I'm going to read one or two interviews now.

Here's one on the Australian Film Institute site. It was done in October 2009. They call him the wise uncle of the Australian film industry. I can kind of see that; I got that feeling from that film documentary.

Miller talks about how he thinks Australian movies should reach out to a broader audience. He says, Well a film doesn’t exist in a can, and it doesn’t exist in an empty theatre or in a DVD package. It exists in the hearts and minds of audiences. So it doesn’t make a lot of sense to make movies that have a very small audience, particularly for the cinema.

I can agree with that. But I don't think one needs to dub Australian voices with other ones.
I think the whole tapping-into-the-universal-consciousness works. I also think it helps to mix the familar with the unfamiliar. I think you attract people to the film by casting well-loved celebrities (of whatever nationality) and then while watching, the people can be introduced to new actors and actresses.

From this interview, and his documentary speech, I get the sense that Miller is a jolly type of person. He seems rather upbeat to me.

Anyway, I think I'm going to stop here. This has been interesting, but I have to get some other stuff done.


  1. Lorenzo's Oil was great. We saw that a few years ago - loved it.

  2. HappyOrganist,

    It looks good to me. This is a pathetic comment response, isn't it?

    I can't think of what to say.

  3. A bunch of accountants just did the tax break thing in Brisbane and made an Australian western that a friend from high school was in. It's done pretty well for an tiny independent. I can't remember the name of the movie and I haven't seen it.

    The Year My Voice Broke is my favourite all time Australian movie. I love that film. I still think about it.

  4. Amy Michelle,

    I'm confused. Accountants made a movie?

  5. Accountants rights? That's Brisbane for you. Financed a movie I think. I think it's this movie - but I'm not positive. The redhead is the girl I went to school with.

  6. Amy Michelle,

    Oh, okay! I wasn't sure if you meant the accountants helped finance a movie...or if they MADE the movie. I thought maybe they had a midlife career change or something. Well, it would be like George Miller...going from doctor to filmmaker.

    Cool about your friend. I'm not sure which one is her though. I don't see anyone with red hair. Maybe Katie Kelly? Is that red? It looks kind of blond to me. I can't tell.