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Steampunk Movies

steampunk-movies

A Personal Guide To The Best Films In The Steampunk Genre!

Steampunk movies are films set in a "retro-futuristic" society where imaginative fantasy and anachronistic technology go hand in hand.

In Steampunk movies pretty much anything can happen!

Steampunk was originally described as "Victorian era science fiction", but as the genre has grown, it has expanded to include many related forms of "speculative fiction". Mad scientists and imaginative inventors meet historical figures and literary characters and embark on wonderful flights of fantasy! Such rich imagery and scope has resulted in many entertaining and visually stunning films.

Here's my personal Top 10 Steampunk movies. Each of my film choices are followed with trailers from the movies so you can get a taste for each movie yourself!

The content of this page is copyright of the author. Created on 11/24/2008 and originally featured on Squidoo.com. Please DO NOT copy or reproduce elsewhere either in print or online.

Definition of Steampunk

Judging by comments in the Steampunk Soapbox (further down the page), it seems that quite a few people are unfamiliar with the term "Steampunk" and have wandered into this page on a voyage of discovery! Those already aware of the rich and varied delights of Steampunk can skip this bit as I'm going to digress briefly to give an insight into what constitutes Steampunk.

Steampunk is eclectic - it means different things to different people. Broadly speaking Steampunk consists of three main elements:

  • Speculative fiction (exploring the question: "what if an historical event/literary character/plotline of a book or play etc had played out differently?"),
  • Anachronistic science fiction (shuffling things around in time - like introducing technology into a time period where it didn't actually exist),
  • Imaginative fantasy

Steampunk takes all of the elements above and sticks them in a blender!

Copy of public domain (copyright expired) Steampunk print "The Dream of Flight" (c between 1890 and 1900)

Copy of public domain (copyright expired) Steampunk print "The Dream of Flight" (c between 1890 and 1900)

The Origins Of Steampunk

The descriptive label "Steampunk" probably dates back to sometime in the 1980s, but it's roots go much further back than that!

Think Victorian "mad science":

  • Jules Verne and H.G Wells,
  • Time Machines and Captain Nemo,
  • Gaslight and fantastical inventions,
  • Air ships and steam powered computers -
  • A "retro-futuristic" society which can encompass anyone, anywhere, anytime!

Steampunk now covers a vast genre of literature, films, music, fashion and even a lifestyle subculture!

Learn more about Steampunk with these gorgeously detailed and informative tomes!

Want To Find Out More About The Steampunk Genre?

  • Steampunk
    Wikipedia's comprehensive entry about all things Steampunk is a great place to start!
steampunk-movies

My Top 10 Steampunk Movies

My personal list of the top 10 best movies in the Steampunk genre...and a few others which I haven't yet got round to seeing, but which come highly recommended by Steampunk movie enthusiasts!

1. The Prestige
2. The Golden Compass
3. Van Helsing
4. 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea
5. Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events
6. Hellboy
7. The League Of Extraodinary Gentlemen
8. The Time Machine
9. Sleepy Hollow
10. The Adventures Of Baron Munchausen
11. More Great Steampunk Movies!


1. The Prestige

Based on the novel by Christopher Priest, this film is a superbly atmospheric tale of resentment and jealousy set against the gaslit theatres of Victorian London and the Colorado laboratory of a genuine historical figure: famed physicist and inventor Nikola Tesla (played brilliantly by David Bowie no less!!). Tesla made significant contributions to the development of electricity and The Prestige sees him aid Angier's quest to out-do Borden's "teleportation illusion" act by inventing a splendidly Steampunk machine which can teleport a human for real! An absolutely brilliant film and a "must-see" for Steampunk fans!

The Prestige Trailer

2. The Golden Compass

The Golden Compass is full of fantastical scientific machines and gorgeous sets, the whole film just screams the word "STEAMPUNK"!

The Golden Compass trailer

3. Van Helsing

Based on the vampire hunting character "Van Helsing" from Bram Stoker's novel Dracula, the film brings together several characters from contemporary "horror" literature such as Mr Hyde, The Wolf Man and Frankenstein in an entertaining blend of gothic fantasy. Enjoyable, action packed and full of great steampunk touches such as Van Helsing's wonderful gas powered crossbow - a sort of "Steampunk-proto-machine-gun" which fires multiple bolts!

Van Helsing trailer

4. 20,000 Leagues Under The Sea

Classic adaptation of Jules Verne's much loved novel about Captain Nemo and his amazing submarine. Need I say more? After all, nothing is more steampunk than Nemo and his Nautilus!

20,000 Leagues Under The Sea trailer

5. Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events

A Series of Unfortunate Events is a visually stunning film with a dark Gothic Neo-Victorian feel and plenty of laughs along the way.

Lemony Snicket's A Series of Unfortunate Events trailer

6. Hellboy

The setting for this film isn't "Victorian" so some purists may prefer to describe Hellboy as "dieselpunk" rather than "steampunk", but whatever label you stick on this film, it's full of "mad science", tentacled monsters and glorious special effects!

Hellboy trailer

7. The League Of Extraodinary Gentlemen

Gorgeous scenes of techno-steampunk with Captain Nemo's fabulous Nautilus submarine, six wheeled "auto-mobile" and imaginative weaponry.

The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen trailer

8. The Time Machine

Based on the novel by H. G. Wells about a Victorian inventor who dabbles in time travel, "The Time Machine" is a great adaptation of a classic story. The "Victorian scientific" setting and time-machine sequences are wonderfully steampunk!

The Time Machine trailer

9. Sleepy Hollow

This is a Tim Burton film and as such, is by definition stylised and more than a little on the "gothic" side, Ichabod's "investigative devices" are quite definitely steampunk though...

Sleepy Hollow trailer

10. The Adventures Of Baron Munchausen

Cult classic "either love it or hate it" film. Set a little earlier than the usual Victorian steampunk era, but no less steampunk for that...like Baron Munchausen himself, this movie is splendidly far-fetched!

The Adventures Of Baron Munchausen trailer

The City Of Lost Children

What makes this film "Steampunk" is Krank's "Mad Science" including a sinister cult of blind men called "Cyclops" who he uses to perform the kidnappings. In return for giving up their sight, the cult members are given a mechanical "third eye" (called an "Optacon") and a device which makes their hearing supersensitive. I haven't seen this film, but so many people rave about it as a magnificent example of steampunk, that it's definitely on my "must see" list

The City Of Lost Children trailer

Dark Portals: The Chronicles of Vidocq

This film has been described by an Amazon reviewer as "...like watching a dream and a nightmare on speed... a cross between the Matrix, Moulin Rouge and From Hell...visually stunning and very freaky." ...sounds fabulous and this is one I DEFINITELY must see!

The Chronicles of Vidocq movie trailer

Steamboy

Another film I haven't yet seen. I'm not much of a fan of anime, but this film is highly regarded by many steampunk enthusiasts. It combines alternate history and speculative fiction and an intriguing set of characters including Robert Stephenson and Scarlett O'Hara!

Steamboy trailer

Wild Wild West

Based on the 1960s TV series, the film features wildly imaginative and bizarre steampunk inventions, including nitroglycerine-powered penny-farthing bicycles, spring-loaded notebooks, bulletproof chainmail, flying machines, steam tanks, and a giant mechanical spider!

Considered to be awful by critics...but what do critics know! I like this film - it's an action-packed, entertainingly silly steampunk romp - so what's not to like!

Wild Wild West trailer

Time After Time

I've seen so many complimentary reviews of this 1979 film, I find it hard to believe that I have never come across it! It's sounds great, so it's definitely one to look out for!

Time After Time movie trailer

Do YOU Like Steampunk Movies?

Have your say about Steampunk movies in the Steampunk Soapbox at the foot of the page!

Tell us about your favorite Steampunk films or TV series and spread the word:

Steampunk Soapbox

Diana on October 25, 2018:

I've been a big fan of Steampunk for over 20 years. But it's kinda embarrassing to admit it since I'm a 56 year old grandma. My granddaughter told me she loves steampunk and it makes me so happy! I can indulge now in something I couldn't before through her.

ThreeLeggedKat on February 17, 2016:

I strongly believe that the Series, "Hell on Wheels" has steampunk genre' costumes, characters, backgrounds, machines, weapons, etc. Check it out. It can be streamed via Netflix or a trailer watched via UTube. Pay attention to the areas I listed and you will gleen "Steampunk" tendencies. Thanks, for letting me post, ThreeLeggedKat

kathy on July 17, 2015:

I think you now have to add the new, "Mad Max" . Not the clothes but the cars and contraptions. Thanks for some new additions to my DVD library.

AaronG on June 04, 2015:

Odd not to see Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow on this list

t2d2 on August 15, 2014:

I like the list. I've read or seen most of the tittles you have listed.

Jackson Thom from West of Left South Lucky on August 12, 2014:

Great list! It's great to see Jasper Morello on there. I love that story.

Jackson Thom from West of Left South Lucky on August 12, 2014:

Great list! It's great to see Jasper Morello on there. I love that story.

anonymous on September 14, 2013:

One movie I don't see listed would be the 1999 Wil Smith, Kevin Kline movie "Wild Wild West". The TV series from the 1960s is classic Steampunk as well. Nice listings.

BlowDryBar on August 10, 2013:

I love stylized movies! City of Lost Children and Delicatessen are two great ones I think fit in this genre.

allen-alberson on July 25, 2013:

I love The Prestige, and would never have thought of it as Steampunk, but it definitely is! Grreat list

LauraCarExpert on July 22, 2013:

wow, what a great and informative lens you got here. I think the prestige, wild wild west, and Hell boy are the best movies on the list.

seodress on June 25, 2013:

Really love steampunk movies.

BowWowBear on June 09, 2013:

Steampunk is a lot of fun, I love looking at the groups who hold get-togethers to show off their creations. I was looking for a few good movies to watch this weekend and you helped me out with that. Thanks!

Meganhere on June 07, 2013:

What a great lens. I really enjoyed it. Thanks.

FlynnTheFineFle on May 03, 2013:

Mmm...I love the movie Stardust. I bsuppose it's only moderately "steampunk," but its so good! Best humor in a movie since "The Princess Bride." Thanks for the info.

Chrystalia on April 29, 2013:

great lens--featured it on mine! when I get my steampunk website built, maybe you'd like to write some reviews???message me and let me know!

Underrated on April 20, 2013:

Great lens

Cynthia Haltom from Diamondhead on April 09, 2013:

Thanks for clarifying the definition so Steampunk, I was always curious about it.

MusicMadness LM on March 18, 2013:

Steampunk is one of the best genres out there. It's so rarely done, and even more rarely done well. I'd have to say I enjoy it even more than sci-fi.

EricKnight on March 13, 2013:

Awesome lens on a film genre that rarely gets much attention.

AcrossTheBorder1 on February 27, 2013:

So strange. When I spotted the title of that article I couldn't think of any steampunks movies I knew. Nevertheless, when I opened the article and browsed through the list of movies, I realized that I had seen all of them, it's just I had never thought of them as steampunk movies. Though indeed they feature most of the steampunk characteristics and can be righteously called "steampunk movies" now that I am giving it a thought.

Craig O from Las Vegas on February 26, 2013:

I Agree with Upon-Request Sherlock should be included. Does anyone know when the next Golden Compass movie is releasing?

Angela F from Seattle, WA on February 22, 2013:

Love Steampunk - Hugo and Sherlock Holmes would be in my Top 10.*blessed

JerryWojo on February 19, 2013:

Great lens. Really liked Hugo, Golden Compass and Van Helsing

SmartCreditProcessor on February 14, 2013:

The Wild Wild West with Will Smith was also a Steampunk movie.

KobayashiFiction on February 05, 2013:

You may enjoy the film Franklyn! I found it to be very beautiful.

JeffGilbert on January 28, 2013:

Great list of movies, I've seen the majority. I have to check out the new version of the Time Machine. The reviewers killed it when it first came out. But it might still be a good movie.

CampingmanNW on January 21, 2013:

All of the choices were indeed good. But Van Helsing has to top the list.

AlexVolker on January 17, 2013:

Total Recall was actually pretty good. I've gone off him lately because he does great 90 minute slots like SWAT and Phonebooth, but his attempts at the epics leave me very cold.

Does Total Recall qualify as Steampunk?

Scriobh LM on January 07, 2013:

The League Of Extraodinary Gentlemen is still one of my favourite movies of all time and along with Van Helsing are definitely two of the best examples of Steampunk tech in movies.

Still can't understand The League Of Extraodinary Gentlemen got such a slating by the critics - awesome movie!

ResearchAddict on December 30, 2012:

This is a great lens with loads of information explaining what steampunk is all about.

Emilee46 on December 22, 2012:

Love this one, "The Abominable Dr. Phibes"

frugalpigdotcom on November 30, 2012:

Hey, I'm a new fan of your lens! I like your choices, and you've given me something to explore over the week-end.

CraftyandClever from everywhere but mostly Cali on November 28, 2012:

Great movies. I love all your choices.

aperkins lm on November 26, 2012:

Great lens - have to pick up a few movies. Just listened to "The Gearheart" podcast - excellent weekly steampunk drama from a few years ago, also available as a book on Amazon (thegearheart.com)

WriterJanis2 on November 10, 2012:

I've seen many on your list and have enjoyed them.

Neil Spencer from uk on November 10, 2012:

This is very interesting

rooshoo on November 09, 2012:

I have never seen the number 1 movie on this list. I need to add it to my Netflix queu. City of Lost Children is a classic.

anonymous on November 04, 2012:

how is moulin rouge not on this list? that movie is the eptome of steampunk!

anonymous on November 01, 2012:

Wonderful selection of steampunk movies. Very good lens :)

MostInteresting on October 21, 2012:

I love the idea of steampunk, though not all the movies have been great obviously. I really liked the steampunk RPG computer game Arcanum (despite the bugs and balance issues).

ryokomayuka from USA on October 18, 2012:

I have seen some of these. I very much enjoyed the Prestige.

sjewula on October 15, 2012:

Cool now I know where to look for movies. Have you ever seen Tin Man? That would be one to watch. It's a great 3 part series.

http://www.syfy.com/tinman/

Cam Marotta on October 13, 2012:

The Prestige rocks! Cool lens.

anonymous on October 07, 2012:

Nice collection of steampunk movies

youknowwhy on September 25, 2012:

I like all but one of your top steampunk movies, and I haven't seen that one!! Nice lens!!

youpolonia on September 13, 2012:

Great choice of steampunk movies. Thanks!

theXodus on September 03, 2012:

Steamboy was an excellent film! Thanks for including it in your list...

anonymous on August 31, 2012:

You should watch Franklyn if you haven't seen this one already.

Lemming13 on August 23, 2012:

Terrific lens. You might like to add the recent French movie The Adventures of Adele Blanche-Sec, which is decidedly steampunk; and I've always seen the Mummy movies as fitting the genre. I wonder, do Yellow Submarine and the Hammer Fu Manchu films count?

Leah J. Hileman from East Berlin, PA, USA on August 21, 2012:

Great lens. Love Steampunk. I'm giving "Serenity" honorable mention because even though it sucked as a movie, it was based on one of the best steampunk series of all time, "Firefly."

sweetstickyrainbo on August 19, 2012:

Howl's moving castle is cool

DMVAgent on August 11, 2012:

Great lens, very adorable. keep up the nifty job on this lens. Thanks you.

Chazz from New York on August 05, 2012:

This steampunk fan returned to bless your lens and add it to "Still Wing-ing it on Squidoo" -- and I did it all on my own version of a steampunk computer.

MrsPoole on August 03, 2012:

@HumorousTshirts: Defo water world, forgotten about that one

MrsPoole on August 03, 2012:

Got to be City of Ember in recent months, can't believe so low down in list

Weekendvoer on July 10, 2012:

Does "Watchmen" also count as a steampunk movie??

themeaparty on June 29, 2012:

NICE reference to Sleepy Hollow, I'd never have thought of that somehow...but yep...his inventions ("Some of my own design!), the clothes to an extent, background coloring, etc., very steampunk. Two thumbs up to ya!

Rose Jones on June 27, 2012:

Well super congratulations: you are on page one for steampunk movies, right under wikipedia. :) That is because this is a super extensive list, and you are very descriptive about the niche. These all sound very fascinating - I used to love the old Wild, Wild West series and would add that to the list - the original TV series, not the movie remake. The series was not scary, a lot of these movies sound scary.The Baron is great, but I will see it again. If you consider Young Frankenstein steampunk, I am definitively on with the niche! The city of lost children seems fascinating, but not right before I go to sleep. :) Tweeted, facebook liked and pinned to my board "Movies I love." Squid Angel Blessed.

Adeeb from Malaysia on June 26, 2012:

Awesome list! Thanks! Wait, what about Waterworld? Is it considered as post apocalypse steam punk?

JohnGcorner on June 13, 2012:

Awesome list, watched most of these.

bill-beaman2 on June 11, 2012:

nice idea for a lens. very creative and great list.

cinefile on May 26, 2012:

This is a REALLY smart idea for a lens! Congratulations.

wildfia on May 19, 2012:

Great list. Some movies I'd never heard of and will definitely check out :)

Starwrangler LM on May 17, 2012:

Great lens, I really do recommend seeing Steamboy. I loved it.

anonymous on May 15, 2012:

DUNE. 'nuff said

EnjoyLens on May 15, 2012:

Very nice lens! Thank you for sharing!

Tolovaj Publishing House from Ljubljana on May 12, 2012:

Steampunk movies are great alternative to special effects based SF movies. In my opinion the have more humor and better plots. thumbs up!

LeslieMirror on April 19, 2012:

I've discovered steampunk for myself few months ago, and I love this style. I have to wath movies from your list

Paul Turner from Birmingham, Al. on April 03, 2012:

Would the Sherlock Holmes movies fit in the category? I think the upcoming movie The Raven may fit here as well.

anonymous on March 23, 2012:

Great lens. I didn't know much about Steampunk movies before viewing your lens. However, you lens clearly and concisely explains what steampunk movies are.

LouiseKirkpatrick (author) from Lincolnshire, United Kingdom on March 22, 2012:

@anonymous: Why didn't I include Brazil? Why do people keep asking me this? I didn't include Brazil because as I've said many times on this page, this is a list of MY own personal top 10 favourite Steampunk Movies and Brazil isn't in MY top 10! It may be in yours...but it isn't in mine! Brazil is here on this page though in the "Even More Suggested Steampunk Movies!" section which I put there so that people who like Steampunk movies that are not in MY top 10 can share their own favourites with the world. Sorry to sound flippant, but you're the third person (at least - see the Guestbbok entry for 21st Jan 2012 for the last one) who has got huffy with me for not including Brazil! What's so hard to understand about a PERSONAL top 10? It'd be a boring world if we all liked exactly the same things...

anonymous on March 22, 2012:

Why did you not include Terry gilliam`s Brazil? Its full of Steampunk gadgets

queenofduvetcover on March 21, 2012:

My type of movies! Very nice lens! =)

Marc from Edinburgh on March 17, 2012:

Super lens. I always wondered what Steampunk was :)

Terrie_Schultz on March 10, 2012:

Great lens! I've seen a few of these. I loved The City of Lost Children. I'll have to look for the others.

Charming_Beads on March 04, 2012:

I've watched bunches of these, and loved them all, but I had no idea that they were called 'steampunk' until I saw your lens. Very imformative!

anonymous on March 04, 2012:

Excellent Lense. Come visit over to "the steampunk empire dot com"

Paperquest5 on February 29, 2012:

I love steampunk, great lens!

thehandmadesecret on February 26, 2012:

i was just wondering what steampunk really meant and your description answered all of my questions! Thank you very much for this great lens! I love those sorts of movies!

richangel101 on February 25, 2012:

I'm always inspired with the steampunk outfit . Good collection of steampunk movies.

You might also want to check my squidoo blog.

Have a great Squidoo Blog day!

GOT LM on February 25, 2012:

Nice work

PeterStip on February 25, 2012:

Wow, great lens, and what a coincident, I just finished my lens about steampunk books when I saw your lens on the squidoo homepage. squidlike.

canzek on February 25, 2012:

great lens!

JZinoBodyArt on February 23, 2012:

I already love some of these and I had never considered them Steampunk. Thanks for a great lens!

pyngthyngs on February 22, 2012:

I am intrigued by steampunk in general. Now I'll have to watch some these to pique my interest even more.

allenwebstarme on February 22, 2012:

Hey good collection of Steampunk movies, I like Van Helsing, Sleepy Hollow and The League Of Extraodinary Gentlemen but I will see few more movies from your list too. Thank you.

Ellen Gregory from Connecticut, USA on February 22, 2012:

Great list--- I would add Journey to the Center of the Earth -- I think that's Steampunk

ptnjust007 on February 21, 2012:

I love these movies.

Li-Li-ThePinkBookworm on February 21, 2012:

Very cool lens. A Series of Unfortunate Events is my favorite Steampunk movie and book series.

Li Li

Sue Dixon from Grasmere, Cumbria, UK on February 21, 2012:

Not really my taste, but I love the lens! Blessed ( and pinned- hope that's OK)

TenPoundTenor on February 21, 2012:

Great lens. I've seen most of these movies I. All good picks.

dahlia369 on February 21, 2012:

Some of the movies from your list I actually like... lol

jwcooney on February 20, 2012:

Nice lens, I like a lot of the movies you've listed. I think I'll do a steampunk weekend movie marathon soon.

anonymous on February 20, 2012:

I can see some classics here :)

Barbara Walton from France on February 19, 2012:

I like the movies on your list that I've seen, so I'll be keeping an eye open for the others. Many thanks.

fugeecat lm on February 18, 2012:

I love these movies.

MelonyVaughan on February 13, 2012:

Great lens and great selection of steampunk movies. Well done!

anonymous on February 10, 2012:

How about Mary Reilly (the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde story) and the recent Sherlock Holmes movies with Robert Downey Jr.

anonymous on February 07, 2012:

What about the "Underworld" series? There's lots of steam AND punk in those! I, too was dubious about "Wild WIld West", though it's actually VERY steampunk--just a mediocre film at best, wasting four excellent actors. I'm glad you included "Time after Time", as it's one of the first of this "genre", though not that punk or steam, but definitely on the edge, like most things penned by H.G. Wells

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