Mad Max 2 / The Road Warrior Filming Locations
The Compound Explosion

The script for Mad Max 2 called for a remote oil refinery, a large scale set built to house the community which had claimed it, as society had spiralled  downwards amidst the war that had stopped oil production worldwide, and brought society to a halt. Although a massive set, it's setting in the vast landscape of Broken Hill at times under emphasises its scale. A quick glance at the construction photograph below brings this back into perspective.

Now take a look at the photograph of the completed set below - the backbone framework shown above comprises only a small portion of the overall compound construction.

Principal photography for Mad Max 2 progressed throughout May, June and July 1981, using the compound set as the backdrop to much of the action. Then, on Wednesday July 22nd, 1981, it came time for the filming of one of the major set pieces for the movie - the compound explosion.

Excerpt from Mad Max 2 call sheet

On the day the compound area was strictly patrolled to ensure the stunt went to plan. Onlookers from the film were permitted a front row seat, but were directed to specific vantage points beyond the range of the blast itself.

The force of the explosion was expected to be so great that all mines in the Broken Hill area were closed. There was to be no risk of anyone being trapped underground, should the force of the explosion be so great as to cause any collapse in the surrounding area.


The plan was for a massive explosion, designed to totally out class any which had come before it. The desire was for a double barrelled effect - a combination of a huge fireball, coupled with the explosive impact to destroy the compound and propel debris skyward. In explosives terms these are mutually exclusive events, as the explosive propelling force cannot exist in the same space as the fuelled fireball. Thus experts from the explosives industry were brought out specifically to stage this one special effect, crafted carefully to ensure that it would include both flaming fireball, and explosively propelled debris. Watch closely in the film itself as the series of both effects are set off side by side during the compound explosion, to full effect.

Of course, precautions had to be taken to ensure that no one set off the show prematurely...


And then it came time to let her rip...


Photographs showing the explosion sequence. Note carefully the solid black spec to the upper left of the explosion...

The picture is enlarged to review that the spec above is the Mad Max 2 production chopper taking a view from the air...
(I believe that, in theory, all aircraft were grounded in the Broken Hill area at the time of the explosion).


Also pay special attention to the "mini" explosives set off inside the compound prior to the main event, for the marauders close up shot - watch those stunt men duck!


Of course the best view of the explosion is most obviously seen in the film itself, captured in all its glory from the numerous camera angles to full effect. The producers certainly achieved everything they had aimed to, and in closing below are some pictures of the aftermath, along with some commentary from those who were there.



Emil Minty (The Feral Kid) and Dennis Williams (Precision Truck Stunts) discuss the compound explosion (video excerpt taken from the Back 2 The Max documentary, used with permission) To view in higher quality, click the viewer to the left to view directly at YouTube, or download the MPEG video from the link below.



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