Saturday, April 14, 2012

M is for MOVIES

Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction that takes many Victorian/Industrial Age technologies, and then thrusts it into a futuristic world. In a steampunk world, there might be flying machines, computers, and ray guns - but built from copper, wood, brass, and using steam as a power source. It's a unique blend of the future and the present that makes steampunk unique.

You're seeing more and more steampunk stories, styles, settings, and characters in film. But it has always been present in cinema going back to the earliest movies (Metropolis) and even in children's movies (Chitty Chitty Bang Bang). Here are a few of my favorites:

You can't get anymore steampunk that The Prestige. Set in Victorian England, this film centers around two competing magicians and the amazing gadgets and scientific wonders they use to create their illusions. Hell, Tesla is even in this movie!

Airships, strange carriages, an alternative universe, and talking animals. Based on Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials Trilogy, this movie is the epitome of steampunk infused with science fiction and fantasy. This is a personal inspiration to me, and I have no qualms admitting that I draw my aesthetic inspiration from this film.

Steamboy has everything a steampunk movie should have: a story based around the power of science and technology, Victorian setting, people wearing robotic prosthetics, and STEAM! Alternative history and steampunk goodness all in one awesome anime.

City of Ember was a movie I took my oldest son to. I would consider this film having a steampunk-dystopian setting. People live underground, reliant on a super generator for power, and a dictator that rules with an iron fist. Just a great movie.

Stardust is similar to The Golden Compass as it is very rooted in fantasy. But DiNiro plays a freaking sky pirate! It's an incredible film, and the visual art is magnificent. It's got airships, magic, witches, sword fights, and one very sexy Michelle Pfeiffer.

One more animated movie...Castle in the Sky is one of the best EVER. It has flying machines, airships, pirates, and look at those goggles. Steampunk-to-the-max. Miyazaki is also the mastermind behind Howl's Moving Castle and Princess Mononoke.

Here are just a few other films with a steampunk attitude:

Wild Wild West (1999)
The Illusionist (2006)
Van Helsing (2004)
Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004)
The League of Extraordinary Gentleman (2003)
The Time Machine (2002)
Sleepy Hollow (1999)
The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988)
9 (2009)
Brotherhood of the Wolf (2002)
The City of Lost Children (1995)


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Brotherhood of the Wolf! Well done sir, to mention that film.

farawayeyes said...

Stardust is one of my all time favorite movies in any genre.

Cherie Reich said...

I really enjoyed City of Ember, but I had read the books before seeing the movie. Also the new Sherlock Holmes movies have steampunk elements.

Kelly Barnes said...

I'm going to have to put Steamboy and Stardust in my que.

Still loving the theme, Jay.

Vero said...

Jay, I love every single movie you named here! It's hard to even decide which one I liked more, except maybe for my all-time favorite animated movie (beats all others, IMO) --- Howl's Moving Castle. Ooooh dear, I so long to watch that again... where's my DVD...

Jay Noel said...

Alex: It's a great movie.

faraway: Mine too. I need to buy it.

Cherie: I need to read the books too. And Sherlock Holmes definitely has steampunk elements. Especially Young Sherlock. But even the newer ones do.

Kelly: YES. You will love them.

Vero: My kids loved it too. But it's funny how adults love it just as much.

Cynthia said...

I remember seeing The Prestige. It was pretty intense. I like watching stuff about magicians.

Anonymous said...

Loved The Prestige and Stardust. Thanks for the tip on Steamboy!

Francene Stanley said...

Thanks for the excellent list and description of steampunk. I always wondered what it was. Blog on!

Laura Marcella said...

Hello, Jay! I really liked Stardust! The book was better (as usual!) but the movie was fun, too. Hope you're having a great weekend and happy A to Z!!

The Desert Rocks said...

Can't keep up with all your wonderful posts. Thanks for giving us a list of your favorite movies!

Kelley Lynn said...

I really liked The Prestige and Stardust!

Jay Noel said...

I've been sick since Friday. The flu has knocked me out. I promise to catch up! -- Jay

Dafeenah said...

Wow I didn't realize some of those movies had the steampunk vibe. I began reading a few steampunk novels, but didn't make it half way through. I thought it was the steam punk, but I've seen quite a few of those movies and loved them. I guess I'm a steampunk movie lover and not a steampunk book lover lol

Phats said...

That's really cool never heard of that before. I have never seen any of those movies either

DEZMOND said...

You do know that Nikola Tesla is the pride and joy of my country? He is our biggest hero and one of the biggest scientists ever, if not the biggest one!

I liked the trashing of Vatican in GOLDEN COMPASS and the polar bears off course ;)

Christine Rains said...

I never thought of Chitty Chitty Bang Bang in this manner, but you're right!

Rusty Webb said...

I wouldn't have put The Brotherhood of the Wolf in a steampunk category - but I would put in the awesome list. I thought dirigibles was the deciding factor.

What about that 3 musketeers movie that came out last summer? Very steampunk.

Jay Noel said...

Dafeenah: Maybe you love the visual aspect of steampunk!

Phats: None?!

Dez: I'm a Tesla fan. He was the true genius while Edison was merely a shrewd businessman

Christine: Yeah I know. Weird, right?

Rusty: It's not a real steampunk movie, but it does have hints of alternate history and some of the stylings. I didn't see the Musketeers movie, but I remember seeing an airship in the previews.

Anonymous said...

New follower to your blog, Jay! I love the movies Van Helsing and Time Machine. I think both movies are so underrated. Van Helsing especially is so good with the music and the action. So underrated!

Jay Noel said...

Jack: I wanted to like Van Helsing, but something was missing from it. I think there were too many parts that tried to be scary/serious, but ended up looking campy. But the weapons and action were fantastic.

Daisy Carter said...

I'm sooo glad you mentioned City of Lost Children. I LOVE that movie. It's so beautiful and creepy. And the Prestige is one of my favorites because well, I mean, hello. Batman and Wolverine? So in! :)

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