Sunday, March 15, 2009

Steampunk Movies: LA Weekly croises, the Heliograph riposts



Did a bit of research, and discovered that the LA Weekly news-magazine had written a piece on Steampunk, titled "Steampunk Starter Guide: Top 5 film and TV series". The introduction is fairly upbeat, written in a manner to "introduce" Steampunk to the masses, through commentary by individuals attending "Gothla US 2009" on their interpretations of Steampunk, which is all well and good.

{The article is located here:
http://blogs.laweekly.com/style_council/film/steampunk-starter-guide/
for further analysis.}

However, the body of the article, which consists of clips from various mediums, seems a bit askew, as though it includes a number of Steampunk movies/TV shows, but a few of choices really seem to miss the mark (imo)! My analysis...

1) Full Metal Alchemist - The word "No" is the same in about twenty languages, but they all apply here, when describing FMA as Steampunk. There may be some longitudinal connections to Steampunk through alternate science (e.g. one of the main characters has a type of prosthetic limbs attached after an accident), but it seems to be more of an "Alternate Victorian Fantasy" anime, vice Steampunk. The description of a "Philosopher's Stone" (traditionally using "magic"to transmute lead to gold), the insertion of fantasy items (e.g. homunculi), insertion of the "Thule Society", and even the title all lead it to a non-Steampunk category. Entertaining? Certainly. Steampunk. No.

2) The Black Day of Jasper Morello - A definite "yes" to this suggestion. An intriguing story, unique artwork/animation, and of course Skyships, make this an extraordinary example of Steampunk cinematography.

3) Steamboy - Produced by the legendary Katsuhiro Otomo, Steamboy is iconic of Steampunk - from the era setting (late 19th century), technology (steam), and social issues, it is a beautiful work to watch. Perhaps one of the best adaptations of Steampunk in any medium, if one wants to garner a better understanding for the genre, this is a "must see" work. Period.

4) City of Lost Children - I have been working hard at obtaining a copy of "City of Lost Children", but from what I have been able to cobble together, this 1995 production is one of the Steampunk cinematographic milestones of the genre. I am looking forward to seeing, the sooner the better! So, an anticipatory "yes" on this movie.

5) Brisco County, Junior - Again, I need to order this, if only to see the most overlooked actor of our time, Mr. Bruce Campbell! From the few episodes I have seen, it follows the trail left by the classic "Wild, Wild West" (the television show more than the movie). I would say yes, but still, though each one of these shows has its own charm.

An alternate list was proposed in the commentary, and though a seemingly yeoman effort of a Mr. D. Davis, I still had contentions with his suggestions, along with the article author's. Though there is the throwaway commentary note that "... like that Steampunk is a creative and rather "open" genre; It isn't so easily defined by one narrow/perfect example.", I would argue that an adherence to an alternate technological setting, driven by pseudo-scientific sources (e.g. steam, mysterious power sources - such as "Cavorite"), within a Neo-Victorian setting (e.g. Victorian norms, but shall we say, with a more idealized philosophy on social relations).

Surprised that more modern works were not mentioned, such as the Golden Compass, Stardust, Van Helsing, the Prestige, or even the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, as the medium (LA Weekly) seems oriented towards a 20-to-30 year old set. I mention this, as there are also many other classic Steampunk movies from the 50s and 60s (e.g. 20,000 Leagues, the Time Machine, ect...) Perhaps a comprehensive list is in order?....

3 comments:

Der Geis said...

Plenty of "City of Lost Children" DVDs on e-bay.

Breezy Carver said...

"Perhaps a comprehensive list is in order?.... "

Indeed ~ and I can not think of a better Man to take on the chalenge .. *grins* Dear Sir !

Dr. Rafael Fabre said...

@ Mr. Der Geis: Well, appears that I need to do a bit of looking on Ebay - Thank you, sir!

@ Miss Carver: I appreciate the compliment, and will have to do so in the near future.