Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

11 Post-Apocalyptic Words from 'Beyond Thunderdome'

Warner Bros.
Warner Bros.

While on the surface Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome may seem like yet another post-apocalyptic flick, it’s also an exploration of language. While the inhabitants of this particular sandy corner of the world all speak English, it’s English in very different forms. The residents of Bartertown, a center of commerce, speak in slogans and catchphrases, the powerful Master Blaster barks Hulk-like half sentences, and the children of the Lost Tribe favor whimsical future slang.

While only Max speaks “normal” English, he picks up bits of native language along the way. Here are 11 post-apocalyptic words Max learns from the Thunderdome and beyond.

“Two men enter, one man leaves."


To get his vehicle back from Aunty Entity, Max is forced into the caged arena known as Thunderdome to battle to the death Master Blaster, who is part little person, part really big person. In addition to being the nickname of several real-life arenas and stadiums, "Thunderdome" has also come to refer to any figurative arena where a harsh battle is fought.


In each “world,” Max is called a different name (although none of them are “Max”). To the Lost Tribe he’s Captain Walker, to Aunty Entity he’s “just a raggedy man,” and in the Thunderdome, he’s introduced as the Man with No Name.

The most famous unnamed drifter of all is likely Clint Eastwood’s character in the Sergio Leone's spaghetti western trilogy, the first of which, A Fistful of Dollars, was a remake of Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo, which starred Toshiro Mifune as a ronin, a masterless samurai with no name.


This remote outpost has been described by writer co-producer Terry Hayes as a “heightened version of our world today” that totally relies “on commerce and trade”—so much so that even the laws are catchphrases. While “two men enter, one man leaves” is the code of Thunderdome, “bust a deal, face the wheel” is the mandate Max must confront when he refuses to kill the innocent Blaster.


Master Blaster runs the Underworld, an underground pig sty that powers Bartertown with manure-derived methane energy (a real thing by the way). He also claims to run Bartertown (“Me run Bartertown!”).

Master, the brains of the operation, is a dwarf who sits atop the brawny shoulders of Blaster, who's later revealed to have “the mind of a child.” Master engages in HulkSpeak for much of the movie. “Me Master!” he says. “Me Max,” says Max. Perhaps in speaking like Ol’ Green Skin, Master hopes to convey the brute strength of Blaster. After Blaster is taken down, Master reverts to full sentences. “It’s not his fault," he says. "Blaster, I’m sorry.”

An earlier "Master Blaster" is the 1980 song by Stevie Wonder (it's unclear if the song influenced Thunderdome). The master blaster Wonder refers to is Bob Marley.


The Pig Killer is serving life in the Underworld for killing a pig to feed his family. After the movie, "pig killer" became slang for an outcast, and since the early 1980s it has been drug lingo for PCP.


"Wordstuff" is Lost Tribe slang for talking or words. “He ain’t made wordstuff,” a kid says of the unconscious Max, meaning, “He hasn’t said anything.” Later Savannah says, “He’s got wordstuff out his ass!” In other words, pseudo-Captain Walker doesn’t know what he’s talking about.


“This is jerking time!” cries a Lost Tribe kid when Max says they need to find Master amid the chaos of Bartertown. What the kid means is what they're doing is a waste of time.

The term "jerking time" is a variation of jerking around. But could it also be a Bob Marley reference? In 1966, Marley and the Wailers released a song called Jerking Time, or possibly Jerk in Time, which is about dancing, sex, or both.


“And time after time I've done the Tell,” says Savannah. “But this ain't one body's Tell. It's the Tell of us all.”

"The Tell" is the tale of Captain Walker, his escape via 747, and the promise of his return. It’s also an example of oral history—“We got it mouth-to-mouth,” Savannah says—and call and response, which is often seen in music and religious services, especially appropriate here when a Jesus-like depiction of Captain Walker is revealed.


To the Lost Tribe, the apocalypse is the "Pox-Eclipse." “This Pox-Eclipse happened,” Max tells the children. “And it's finished.”

The word Pox-Eclipse is an eggcorn, a linguistic phenomenon in which a word is mistaken for another similar-sounding word that makes sense to the speaker. This is unlike a malapropism, in which the word replacement is nonsensical, for example “nuclear power pants” for “nuclear power plants.”

While it’s been implied that nuclear war caused the Mad Max apocalypse, disease—a pox—as a result of fallout contamination could have caused even further death, eclipsing or shadowing life on the planet.

10. MR. DEAD

“I’m not Captain Walker,” Max says. “I’m the guy who keeps Mr. Dead in his pocket.” Mr. Dead is the Lost Tribe’s personification of death, much like the Grim Reaper, the Angel of Death, and the pale rider of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.


Tomorrow-morrow Land is the Lost Tribe's idea of a long-lost home. The name comes from Tomorrowland, the futuristic section of Disney’s theme parks. "Tomorrow-morrow" Land is also an example of reduplication, the repeating a syllable or word to create a nursery rhyme effect.

While Tomorrow-morrow Land suggests a place the Lost Tribe will reach in the near future, it could also refer to somewhere they’ll never reach. It's always, as the song goes, a day away.

5 Film Transitions Worth Knowing

You see them every day, on TV shows, the news, and in movies, but how well do you know the most oft-used film transitions? Here are the big five:


The dissolve is an editing technique where one clip seems to fade—or dissolve—into the next. As the first clip is fading out, getting lighter and lighter, the second clip starts fading in, becoming more and more prominent. The process usually happens so subtly and so quickly, the viewer isn't even aware of the transition. The above video offers a great overview of the cut, with examples.


This transition is the opposite of the dissolve in that it draws attention to itself. The best example of the wipe is what's known as the Iris Wipe, which you usually find in silent films, like Buster Keaton's or the Merrie Melodies cartoons—the circle getting smaller and smaller. Other wipe shapes include stars, diamonds, and the old turning clock.

The Star Wars films are chock-full of attention-grabbing wipes. Here are two good examples from The Empire Strikes Back. The first shows the clock wipe; the second, the diagonal wipe (pay no attention to the broken blocks at the start of the second clip—that's a technical glitch, not part of the film).


As the name implies, in the basic cutaway, the filmmaker is moving from the action to something else, and then coming back to the action. Cutaways are used to edit out boring shots (like people driving to their destination—why not see what the character is seeing or even thinking sometimes?) or add action to a sequence by changing the pace of the footage. My favorite use of the cutaway is in Family Guy, where the technique is used to insert throwaway gags. Here's a great example:


The L Cut, also called a split edit, is a very cool technique whose name dates back to the old analog film days.

The audio track on a strip of celluloid film runs along the side, near the sprocket holes. In the L Cut transition, the editor traditionally cut the picture frames out of the strip, but left the narrow audio track intact, thus creating an L-shape out of the film. A different camera angle, or scene was then spliced into the spot where the old picture was, so the audio from the old footage was now cut over the new footage.

Of course, with digital editing, one doesn't need to physically cut anything anymore, but the transition is still widely used, and the name has remained the same.

Split edits like these are especially effective in portraying conversations. Imagine how a simple conversation between two people might look if all we ever got was a ping-pong edit back and forth between the two people talking. The L cut allows the viewer to read the emotion on the listener's face, as the dialogue continues over, as we see in this clip from Ferris Bueller's Day Off:


The fade in and fade out usually signal the beginning or end of a scene, especially if the filmmaker is fading to/from black. This is the most common, of course, but fading to white has become trendy, too. The opening title sequence from the HBO series Six Feet Under featured many fades to black and a couple brief fades to white. The very last bit in the sequence fades slowly to white, and is my all-time favorite example of the transition:

science fiction
Why So Many Aliens in Pop Culture Look Familiar

Aliens have been depicted countless times in cinema, from Georges Méliès's A Trip to the Moon (1902) to James Cameron's Avatar (2009). But despite the advancements in special-effects technology over the past century, most aliens we see on screen still share a lot of similarities—mainly, they look, move, and interact with the world like humans do. Vox explains how the classic alien look came to be in their new video below.

When you picture an alien, you may imagine a being with reptilian skin or big, black eyes, but the basic components of a human body—two arms, two legs, and a head with a face—are likely all there. In reality, finding an intelligent creature that evolved all those same features on a planet millions of light-years away would be an extraordinary coincidence. If alien life does exist, it may not look like anything we've ever seen on Earth.

But when it comes to science fiction, accuracy isn't always the goal. Creating an alien character humans can relate to may take priority. Or, the alien's design may need to work as a suit that can be worn by human performers. The result is a version of extraterrestrial life that looks alien— but not too alien—to movie audiences.

So if aliens probably won't have four limbs, two eyes, and a mouth, what would they look like if we ever met them person? These experts have some theories.

[h/t Vox]


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