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It's got everything you need, as long as you're not afraid of heights.

– The Dag

Immortan Joe speaks from a balcony on his rock fortress

The Citadel is the stronghold of Immortan Joe. It appears in Mad Max: Fury Road.


The Citadel is a cluster of three rock towers that sit above an aquifer of relatively fresh water. By channeling the water through the rock, the people of the Citadel have been able to irrigate a small area of the Wasteland. It is the stronghold of Immortan Joe.


Originally the aquifer was inhabited by a group of heavily armed men protecting the water resources. After Colonel Joe Moore's takeover the aquifer was rebuilt into The Citadel.[1]


The aquifer was rebuilt with scrap found in the Wasteland. Each tower has its specific purpose:

  • Tower #1: Immortan Joe's headquarters. Inside this tower there are hydroponic gardens, the milking room, water dispersion control and at the very top - the Bio-dome where the Five Wives are kept. Arguably the most luxurious part of the complex with a direct tap into fresh water, fruit & vegetables, milk, and also remaining bits of knowledge stored in books inside the Bio-dome vault.
  • Tower #2: Inhabited by what little of middle classes there is left. Various people with valuable skills live there which includes individuals with variety of skills, including mechanics, medics, etc. Inside this tower there is a blood bank where captives of the Wasteland are kept as blood bags for War Boys. There is a garden up top, the tower functions as a buffer between Immortan Joe's headquarters and the lowest class of people living in tower #3.
  • Tower #3: The working class of The Citadel lives there. Picked up from The Wretched and promised a better life they ended up being used as slave labor, most notably as Mill Rats used to power the elevator platform. Their lifespan is short as they are not being cared for as much as the rest of the inhabitants of The Citadel.[2]


Joe maintained his control through a loyal corps of War Boys, whom are picked from The Wretched as War Pups and indoctrinated from childhood to believe that Immortan Joe is a god and following his orders will grant them eternal afterlife. The War Boys defend the Citadel, escort trade caravans, and scavenge the countryside for useful scrap and slaves. War Boys are indoctrinated into the Cult of V8 and they become mechanics first. After surviving long enough they may be granted their own vehicle and eventually become Imperators (commanders).

The Citadel trades its water with surrounding outposts, including Gas Town, which provides the gasoline it needs to power its vehicles; other machines are powered by sheer muscle.

Deep within the Citadel is where Joe keeps his "breeders" whom he uses to try to make a viable heir.

At the very bottom of the hierarchy are The Wretched - a large group of malnourished, sick and homeless people who traveled across the Wasteland to The Citadel in hope of a better life. Immortan Joe, however only sparingly offers them water and uses it as means of control. The Wretched are not indoctrinated into the Cult of V8 but they seem to perceive Immortan Joe as a leader. Unbeknownst to them - Immortan Joe hides his face under a mask and his failing body under protective armor. He cannot be clearly visible with naked eye from the very bottom of the towers either, which helps to mask his true appearance. The moment Immortan Joe's dead body is revealed, The Wretched rip it apart and the illusion of his immortality and his cult vanishes immediately.

Design inspirations

George Miller and Collin Gibson independently started to collect materials for what would eventually become the first concept of The Citadel. Upon Gibson's first visit to Africa he looked at a lot of places that were carved into mountains, caves used for shelter and for storing food during primitive and violent times of raping and pillaging. This resonated with the primitive nature of the Wasteland.

Another aspect was the feudal construction of society which was quite literally depicted in the form vertical hierarchy. The Wretched lived at the very feet of The Citadel, whereas Immortan Joe lived at the very top. In between lived his armies, Milk Mothers, mechanics, and so on.

The essential idea of The Citadel was based on height and Gibson's idea of the Citadel was amplified by Miller until it became a monumental structure made of three interconnected towers.[3]

Visual effects

The Citadel location was produced via a combination of principal photography in Namibia, shooting in Sydney and visual effects work from Iloura informed by actual rock cliffs photographed in Australia and re-worked using photogrammetry.

Visual effects supervisor - Andrew Jackson considered reference locations in Jordan, including the famous Wadi Rum mountains, but ultimately found suitable cliffs in the Blue Mountains west of Sydney.

“I took a helicopter and we flew backwards and forwards with a high res stills camera. It has real lighting but because it was shot in overcast conditions you can add more key light. We had the chopper standing by for 10 days waiting for the right conditions. We didn’t have one cloudy day for a week and a half, but the day we went was just perfect.”

- Andrew Jackson

The use of photogrammetry techniques for the Citadel location, and for others in the film, was actually inspired by Jackson’s initial use of an on-set aerial photography drone from Sensefly that he had intended to employ just for ground reference photos. “It was a little one meter wingspan plane with a compact camera,” explains Jackson. “It completely flew itself. You just map out the area on the ground, you throw it into the air and it flies up and flies in a grid taking photos every two meters and then comes back and lands where it was launched. The software they give you with the plane was Photoscan.”

At one point Joe addresses his citizens from a rock-platform balcony, a location where he also opens the water pipes using ship pump actuators. “The balcony went through a huge number of iterations,” says Tom Wood, visual effects supervisor. “There was a practical set piece that was shot in one of the stages at Fox Studios in Sydney, which was completely replaced. The only thing that’s real are the four guys and the pump actuators. For below him they had shot about 150 extras and we extended those to 30,000 with crowd sims. Those rocks didn’t exist so we were controlling light across the crowd, which was really tricky.”

The water flow from the pipes made use of a Houdini simulation for wide shots, with some practical water on set. “They had practical rain machines on set in front of their very small piece of rock face,” describes Wood. “That sprayed out more than a mist - it was a rain. There was also some pouring water where it splashes on some rocks. Everything above that was VFX.”[4]


  • According to Fury Road co-writer Brendan McCarthy, the theme of turning humans into a commodity was to be reflected in the design of the gardens on top of The Citadel. Originally the plants would be growing from dead bodies split open, acting as grow bags. Different types of plants ranging from flowers to wheat would have been growing from carcasses. Dead bodies would have been recycled and used as fertilizer, Max's cut off hair was going to be recycled as well.[5]