Survival, Seeds, and Salvation in Furiosa

Amber Noel

The human story is a story of beginnings and ends: paradise to fall and flood, Abraham to slavery, Red Sea to wilderness, promised land to exile, Messiah to apocalypse. Like George Miller’s Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga, it’s a wild ride. But what Scripture’s story tells us—and what the new Mad Max movie might also be getting at—is that the grueling process of ends and beginnings is leading somewhere—and that somewhere is salvation.

In Furiosa, we begin at the end. The earth, except for a few warring tribes, is known simply as “the Wasteland.” Food and water, society and family, animals and plants, music and art, joy and tenderness—nearly all are lost.

Oh, but there are cars. Big ones. And guzzoline. And bullets and guns. It’s a hyper-masculine world of end-times nightmare for men and women alike. It’s Eden turned inside-out, and life is a cruel game of survival.

But Furiosa opens on a new beginning, too, a small oasis, an echo of Eden: the Green Place of Many Mothers. Established and protected by matriarch-warriors, this farming community is determined to “be fruitful and multiply,” even hemmed in by death.

In the first shot of Furiosa, the hand of the child Furiosa (Alyla Browne) plucks a ripe peach from a tree, as members of the merciless and marauding Biker Horde hide nearby (it's easy to think here of the serpent in the Garden of Eden). They kidnap Furiosa, trying to force her to reveal the “place of abundance” she comes from. Her mother, Mary Jabassa (Charlee Fraser), tries to rescue her, but is caught in the attempt. Before the Biker Gang, led by the warlord Dementus (Chris Hemsworth), crucifies Mary, she hands her daughter a peach seed from the Green Place, and tells her, whatever it takes, to survive.

At first, Furiosa fights to return home. But between empty stretches of desert, the Biker Horde, and the Citadel, controlled by the cult leader Immortan Joe (Lachy Hulme) with his harem of enslaved women and his creepy Citadel of War Boys, she can’t go back. The dark angels of this world block any return to Eden. So Furiosa tries to play their game. She (now played by Anya Taylor-Joy) strategically places herself in Joe's entourage and crucifies her identity as a girl, pretending to be a boy, in order to survive adolescence and escape becoming one of Joe’s harem. For years, she hides in plain sight as a mechanic.

As Furiosa gets older, finds her footing, and re-embraces her womanhood, she also finds a mentor, Praetorian Jack (Tom Burke), and old hopes revive. He teaches her to drive a war rig and become useful to the Citadel—and helps her attempt escape. This is when we see Imperator Furiosa the soldier, and though she still takes on male attributes (like the name Imperator, instead of the female Imperatrix) in this hardened, exaggeratedly masculine world, she vulnerably reveals a heart still longing for Paradise by showing Jack her treasured seed. Jack’s sacrificial love and what Dementus scorns as “softness” waters an important spiritual seed in Furiosa.

But when the final attempt to return to the Green Place fails brutally, Furiosa’s desire for her peaceful Eden puts her on the warpath.

Furiosa decides that if she can’t find reconciliation by returning, she’ll take it by revenge.

Finally, she decides, if she can’t find reconciliation by returning, she’ll take it by revenge. If she can’t return home, maybe she can get payback for what she lost. In the final scenes of the film, she’s got Dementus in her crosshairs.

And yet Furiosa’s treasured seed means more than she knows. The words of Jesus give us a hint: “Unless a seed falls to the ground and dies,” it cannot “bear much fruit” (John 12:24-25). Even from the one who promises a sure new beginning for all creation, he insists it only comes through death—first his, and then everyone who is willing to let go of their lives in a similar way.

This is the opposite of at-all-cost survival, holding on, or going back. Furiosa learned it first from her mother, Mary, then from Jack. Life isn’t about the cruel cycle of survival, but about giving life, not under cruel force like Furiosa, or like Joe’s harem of childbearing and milk-bearing women, but freely and for the sake of others. There has to be a choice. And the hinge of that choice is sacrifice.

At the climax of the film, Furiosa lays a trap for Dementus. A prophet figure sees her in her black veil and war paint and calls her the "fifth Rider of the Apocalypse.” The girl from Eden has become a harbinger of the end. But revenge is not sweet. This is the first time we see the survivor lose control. She weeps and beats Dementus. When he recognizes her as the girl whose innocence he destroyed, Furiosa screams, “I want my mother back … my childhood back!”

But Dementus warns her that vengeance won’t return anything—he knows this from his own experiences of loss: “You can never balance the scales,” he says. What’s gone is gone. Revenge doesn’t bring redemption. A new beginning still must be made. Furiosa has survived, but her life, and the lives of others who have suffered as she has suffered, have yet to be redeemed.

In the end, Furiosa plants the peach seed in the Citadel (I won’t say how), and shares its fruit with Joe’s harem of women. Rather than trying to return to her roots, she literally roots where she is and accepts the reality of the post-fall Wasteland, not as the end of the story, or as a soul-sucking cycle of survival, but as the only place from which any hope of redemption can spring.

The human story is not only one of survival—which Furiosa is good at—but also of salvation. This, she is still learning. But as she does, she participates in that story that Scripture tells and that we see most clearly in Jesus. He shows us in himself, his mission, and his sacrifice “the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end” and the way to the restored creation's trees of life “whose leaves are... for the healing of the nations.”


At Think Christian, we encourage careful cultural discernment. We recognize and respect that many Christians choose not to engage with pop culture that contains particular content, such as abuse, sex, violence, alcohol or drug use, or that employs the use of coarse language. To that end, we suggest visiting Common Sense Media for detailed information regarding the content of the particular piece of pop culture discussed in this article.

Topics: Movies