1. Exploring a road – Belsize Road, Worthing
Whilst there are certainly more exciting or picturesque roads that are known to me, my condition hampers my ability to travel to them. Instead, I’ve chosen a local road that, whilst it appears atypical of a town such as Worthing, has a number of connections with my life.
After walking up and down the road a number of times, I made a digital contact sheet of the shoot.
From these shots, I made a final selection of six that I think represent the core areas of the road.
Whilst I’ve walked this street many times, I’ve never taken the time to take a closer look at the houses and spaces that line it. I think this set sums up the area; an aesthetic of future dereliction- houses falling into disrepair, overgrown gardens and an emptiness and grit to the man-made structures.
I don’t think these shots would cover the whole range of life – there are some perfectly nice houses and cars along the street- but they do encapsulate my emotional responses.
The name of the road gave me and friends many a chuckle in our less-developed years. There are many pretty, friendly cats in the neighbourhood and the odd welcoming sign and new build here and there. Unfortunately, these are few and far between, nestled beside many decaying properties and uninviting spaces.
2. A ‘road movie’ – Mad Max: Fury Road (2015)
The road in the title of the fourth Mad Max film doesn’t necessarily apply to the post-apocalyptic land driven on by crazy vehicles. Instead, it refers to the de facto main character, Furiosa and her journey from slave to heroine and symbol of freedom. In this installment, Max is once again a secondary character; a tool for the audience to experience another adventure in the ‘Mad Max’ world.
Whilst the struggle for female equality is perhaps the driving theme (pardon the pun) and narrative, without the road itself there would be no story. The story begins as a straight drive on one of the few remaining tarmac roads for a tanker from a town to a nearby fuel depot. It quickly evolves into a frenetic, extended off-road scramble across sand dunes, ravines, valleys and through explosive fire storms.
Whilst the roads and paths quickly run out, the sheer weight and importance of the vehicles turn every landscape into their own domain. Really, the film is one long chase scene from start to finish, with few moments not in or on roaring vehicles of death.
There is a turning point towards the end of the film wherein Furiosa realises that her struggle – her journey – has been for nothing. There is no ‘green land’ of prosperity or freedom, no life away from those who would enslave or kill her. The road she drove took a toll on her and those she attempted to save, a toll that would have been worth the reward. Without the reward, she is convinced by Max to do it all again and take the very same journey back to face their enemies head on rather than run away.
In the end, the ‘Fury Road’ describes the emotional turmoil and eventual strengthening of the main character. Fighting for weeks over vast distances returns Furiosa to the exact point she began, but having changed her entire world and made a real difference to the lives of many others.