In a very short but eminently fascinating video by Vashi Nedomansky, Mad Max: Fury Road cinematographer John Seale talks about how center framing all of the most important visual information was George Miller’s personal mandate throughout the shooting of the film. With such a fast-paced movie with so many cuts (2700, to be exact), what this essentially does is make it easier for the eyes and brain to process exactly what’s going on (contrasted from the “chaos cinema” approach in which we’re bombarded by sights and sounds that seem impressive but in which we have little idea what’s actually going on, physically).
The center framing technique also made editor Margaret Sixel’s daunting task easier in that even with such a flurry of juxtaposed shots, there’s always a smooth sense of transition and comprehension. The combination of Sixel’s deft editing and Miller’s center framing edict result in a movie with action that is insanely chaotic yet still comprehensible which is really where Fury Road’s genius lies.
This is interesting because usually in film school they teach you about the so-called Rule of Thirds, or the principle of framing characters and objects off-center, as in this shot from the classic film Chinatown:
But in Fury Road, clarity took precedence over traditional rules, it seems, and the end result is something beautiful in its own right that we are certain will be highly imitated in cinema in the years to come.
This is absolutely one of our favorite videos about Mad Max: Fury Road out there. Watch it.