As a species, we humans have a fascination with the end. The end and what we would do afterwards. These post-apocalyptic works allow us to deal with issues of morality, survival and rebuilding civilisation from the comforts (or lack thereof) of our homes, but it’s also a chance for people to let loose and live out their wildest fantasies. In 1995, a British comic book brimming with artistic freedom helped showcase this lighter side of life after by translating this colourfully chaotic world of Alan Martin and Jamie Hewlett for the silver screen, in a cult film called Tank Girl.
After an asteroid crash ruins the climate, the earth has been rendered desolate barren wasteland. The new establishment, the immoral Water & Power company holds a monopoly on water. Meanwhile, Rebecca Buck lives with a selection of outcasts in Australia. She is captured by Water & Power, however, quickly escapes with a Tank and a new sidekick, as she tries to rescue her young friend, Sam. Now she must team up with other vehicle-based personas and a mysterious band of Kangaroo-based humans called Rippers as she dawns the persona of Tank Girl.
Tank Girl is a tale that’s brimming with energy, as Lori Petty brings the punky protagonist to life, she’s full of quips, comments and creative costumes. It’s refreshing to see the other castmates react to this relentless personality, Castmates such as Malcolm McDowell, Snoop Dog, Iggy Pop, and even the young Naomi Watts all join Lori Petty’s Tank Girl, and each have characters as unique and varied as her, (but maybe not as off-the-wall and conversational).
The soundtrack consists of licensed tracks picked by Hole singer Courtney Love, boasts some of the backbones of the alternative scene with Portishead, Devo, and the aforementioned Hole. It’s a strong selection, and with some tracks feeling like they leapt off the comic’s page. While the film is also inter-laden with illustrations that harken back to the comics, they blend well and help underline the overall Zine feel of the project. Tank Girl being set in Australia feels very much like Mad Max, with the desert, intricate vehicles, and feels like a faithful homage, and thus a homage to a homage.
For somebody with the right temperament, I’d imagine working on a film like Tank Girl to be a dream job. The film captures That punky, alternative ethos made into flesh of the eponymous character and her warped world. Accompanied by some cool castings, a cooler soundtrack and faithfulness to the source, Tank Girl is an exhilarating trip consolidated into an hour and forty-five-minute film. By pushing every element up to eleven, Tank Girl feels more Mad-Maxed.
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