Written by Tedi Sarafian, Alan Martin, and Jamie Hewlett
Directed by Rachel Talalay
1995 was a banner year for British comics to be converted into big budget American films that did awful at the box office. Both Judge Dredd and Tank Girl came and went with only critical and financial failure to remember them by (Tank Girl also succeeded in bringing down the publisher that originated the comics!) Sometimes films don’t find their audience until years later. Tank Girl‘s energy, charisma, and throw everything at the wall style of film making is perfect for modern audiences raised in an era of ADD entertainment.
Tank Girl is a film filled with energy. It constantly races from scene to scene, rarely stopping to catch a breath, and skipping from genre to genre. Elements of action, comedy, animation, and horror collide. At one point there is even a big musical number! Tank Girl features action sequences that are loaded with gags, and seems well aware at how ridiculous it is. If anything, Tank Girl revels in it’s unseriousness, joyfully becoming a live action cartoon that flies in the face of modern “dark and gritty” takes on comic characters. Tank Girl herself is a wise-cracking punk rocker, who has never met an authority figure she hasn’t rebelled against.
Tank Girl first appeared in print in the magazine Deadline, the strip a creation of Jamie Hewlett and Alan Martin. Tank Girl soon became popular with counter-culture movements, outstripping the popularity of Deadline and resulting in the publication of collected works, which drew in more fans. Hewlett and Martin sold the rights to make a film thinking the worst that could happen was a campy film. Deadline leveraged itself heavily into the success of the Tank Girl film (which led to the magazine’s demise when the movie failed!) Hewlett and Martin were barely consulted while the film was in production, became annoyed at the studio suits debating on what cool was, and then were called in at the last minute by Rachel Talalay to help salvage the film by providing a bunch of drawings to use as interstitials. Jamie Hewlett would go on to co-create the music group Gorillaz with Damon Albarn, while Alan Martin eventually wrote more Tank Girl stories. Both creators are still sore over their experiences.
The cult audience of Tank Girl extended to Rachel Talalay, at the time best know for producing several John Waters pictures. She helped push a film adaptation as “the ultimate grrrrl movie.” As the studio suits were almost exclusively older men, heads were butted from before the film lensed to through painful focus group after focus group. The increasingly desperate shooting schedule (suffering from being behind schedule) resulted in additional compromises, and the major edits both enhanced the manic weird energy and were obvious rewrites with desperate bridging animation/artwork that only added confusion.