6 Essential Dieselpunk Movies

Hopping on the list bandwagon. There doesn’t seem to actually be that many people out there doing much of this stuff; it seems to be all Steampunk these days. So here’s my favourite movies in the setting of Steampunk’s grittier younger brother, Dieselpunk.

The Book of Eli – Post Apocalyptic Dystopia – check. Mafia lord ruling over the general populace – check. Ok, so the story is a bit simple, and the theme hits you over the head with a monkey wrench, but when they rolled that Gatling gun out of the back of the truck, the little girl that went to air shows with her dad that lives inside me went *squee!!!*

Waterworld – Post Apocalytic Dystopia- check. Mafia lord ruling over the general populace – check. Kind of a classic, despite the Kevin Kostner detractors. Complete with distopically rusty jetskis.

Final Fantasy Advent Children – Ok, granted, to really properly appreciate this movie, you have to have played the game, or you’d probably have no clue what’s up with the random girl in the pink dress. Or who the bad guys are at all, or why the main bad guy turns into a different guy in the end. But if you *have* played the game, you get to point at the screen and say “OMG, Bahamut’s doing Mega-flare!”

Indiana Jones – I’m my father’s daughter. I cut my teeth on these movies as soon as I was old enough to stay up long enough to watch the grown-up movie my dad would rent for after the cartoon movie. Indiana Jones is just awesome and requires no justification. Fourth movie notwithstanding. Though, I don’t have a problem with the Indiana Jones had a kid bit, especially since they got the old actress. After all, the third one brought in his father, and that was great. The monkey scene was a bit much though. But it’s got all the tech level of dieselpunk, and the dustiness, without having to be post apocalyptic.

Sucker Punch – Sureal sort of a movie – some people have tried to say that it’s about female empowerment, but it’s really not at all. People try to say that about any movie that has girls looking hot and carrying around assault rifles and katanas. It’s not about female empowerment at all, it’s about the tragedy of how women are sexualized and cast off and forced to sacrifice themselves for the sake of those around them when things get hard. How women are expected to be everything and how they can fight so hard, and get so little in return in the end, and they’re supposed to be satisfied with martyrdom. But there’s steam powered zombie nazis, and that was cool.

Tank Girl – Post Apocalytic Dystopia- check. Mafia lord ruling over the general populace – check. And come on. Girl with attitude + Tank = awesome. Not sure about the kangaroo guys, but we’ll run with it. But – tank? Come on, how can you go wrong? Re-watched this recently, and it’s way more over the top than I remember (I don’t remember the cabaret number at all!) Warning though, contains alcohol abuse. (They run out of ammo and have to load up cans of beer into the main gun.)

By the way, I’m classifying Sky Captain and the world of tomorrow as very much non-essential Dieselpunk, because, quite frankly, it sucked. I cannot describe my disappointment in that movie. The main character was set up to be this awesome guy that the world revolves and depends on, but I saw no compelling reason that should be so. And there was no plot. Unless you consider evil scientist out to destroy the world, a plot. Do you consider that a plot? I don’t. It’s a premise. Not a plot.

That one aside, anyone else have any movies I missed?

15 responses to “6 Essential Dieselpunk Movies

  1. Correct me if I’m wrong, but I would like to mention the film The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen. I think it qualifies in the dieselpunk genre as well as makes a decent run at being memorable.

    I’m not saying it’s a great movie…but it should fit on a list with Tankgirl and Waterworld.

    • I would agree, but The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is pretty solidly set in the Steampunk subgenre, not Dieselpunk. It has the Victorian aesthetic much more than the post WWI feel.

  2. Ooo! I haven’t heard of a couple of those… Something new to watch, heh.

    I never thought Sky Captain was an “amazing” movie or anything, but it does exemplify the dieselpunk aesthetic quite nicely. Plus, it’s so silly and ridiculous that I can’t help but loving it. ^_^

    Also, I think the recent Captain America movie was pretty decent and very dieselpunk. (Holy moly! I just found out they’re supposed to be making a second movie…? Set in the modern-day world….hmm.)

    Oh! And The Rocketeer… That’s another fun/silly one.

    • I haven’t seen Captain america – I don’t tend to like superheroes, but after seeing avengers, I could be coerced – I hadn’t realized it was dieselpunk.

      Sky Captain, I really really wanted to like it, because I love the aesthetic aspects of it, but it really took itself too seriously to entertain me the way tank girl does in it’s over-the-topness, and lack of plot.

      Haven’t seen the rocketeer, either, but I probably should. :)

  3. Pingback: My Blog Is One Year Old – Anniversary Post | Lindsay Kitson – Dieselpunk Author

  4. This one’s a classic, but I love it and think it should be included despite it predating the concept of dieselpunk: Metropolis.
    There’s the Hellboy movies, which have some DP elements.
    Haven’t actually seen the movie they made of The Keep, but I’d put the book in the DP category.
    The Shadow and The Phantom, although I didn’t enjoy either very much, despite Billy Zane in the latter.
    Apparently The City of Lost Children, although I haven’t seen it and every time I read the summary I’m like, …no.
    Oooh, DARK CITY. That’s a good one!
    Maybe Blade Runner?

  5. Here’s a couple of older films that I feel fall under the dieselpunk genre:
    “Gold” (1934): A German film directed by Karl Hartlt. The entire movie is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c6JsVNUh4UA
    “The Hyperboloid of Engineer Garin” (1965) – set in 1925, based on the Aleksey Nikolayevich Tolstoynovel, “The Garin Death Ray”.

  6. I’d think Sin City should get a nod, also The Spirit, which is far more in keeping with the fantastic elements of all these ‘punk’ genres. Iron Sky, too, which I haven’t seen and have no great hopes for…but if you thought steam-powered zombie Nazis are cool…what about Naaazziiiiiss Frooooom Theeee Moooooooooooooon!!!!! :)

  7. Sky Captain NOT over the top enough for you? I’m sorry, but you lose a lot of credibility when you hint at that. You lose the rest of your credibility because you’ve never seen Blade Runner or The Rocketeer.

    • I never said Sky Captain wasn’t over the top, or that it wasn’t over the top enough. If you read my criticisms of Sky Captain, they were plot related, not related to the dieselpunk elements.

      Blade Runner is generally considered cyberpunk, and not dieselpunk. I wonder why you would assume I hadn’t seen it? The article doesn’t say one way or another.

      Always, to each his own. It’s a list of *my* favourites, not someone else’s.

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