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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 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!

My Top 10 Steampunk Movies

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!

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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!