Is 9 Steampunk?

Is 9 Steampunk? Let’s have a look at some of the key elements of the movie in order to decide whether it meets the criteria in order to be classified as steampunk or not. If not, does it fit into one of the other punk aesthetics? Let’s find out. 

Before we get into whether 9 is steampunk or not, let’s look at what the film is about to get a flavor as to whether it is steampunk or not. 

Movie Title: 9

Studio: Attitude Studios

Director: Shane Acker

Story By: Ben Gluck

Release Date: September 9, 2009 (United States)

Main Actors: Elijah Wood, Jennifer Connelly, Crispin Glover

Synopsis: In a post-apocalyptic world destroyed in a war between man and machine, a hand-stitched doll with the number 9 written on its back comes to life.

The world he has awakened in is a frightening one, but he quickly learns that he is not alone and there are others like him, also with a single digit written on their back.

The first one he encounters is, the number 2, who brings 9 to meet a hidden community and tells him what happened to the world. 2 is then captured by a machine, and 9 and the other dolls set out on a mission to rescue 2.

What Makes a Movie Steampunk?

Before we answer the question, is 9 steampunk? Let’s have a look at some of the key characteristics of a steampunk movie.

There are a number of elements that need to combine in order to classify a movie as steampunk. 

Check out our in depth guide as to what makes a movie steampunk for more information on this. Whether something fits into the steampunk genre or not is a topic that is always up for hot debate in the forums. 

As steampunk sadly never existed, there is no history to check the validity against, however, there is some faux pas that means that something is clearly not steampunk. 

Things such as this we would class as being ‘steampunk inspired’, i.e. they don’t traditionally conform to the steampunk genre, but they have taken elements from it to inspire them. 

As a quick recap, we’ve lined up our top 10 elements to look out for in a steampunk movie.

If you’re interested in learning more about steampunk, check out our article, ‘What is Steampunk?’, which will take you through the history, influences, fashions, gadgets, and much more. 

Top 10 Things to Look Out for In a Steampunk Movie

  1. The Use of Steam – In steampunk, electricity has never been invented, everything is mechanical and powered by steam. This means that if you can see digital machinery in a movie, it isn’t traditional steampunk, therefore it may be classified as ‘steampunk inspires’  
  2. Steam Powered Vehicles – In steampunk movies, as with the above, you will only see vehicles powered by steam, cars, ships, and even submarines.
  3. Airships – Airships are popular within the steampunk genre – again, mechanically powered.  
  4. Set In Victorian Era or an Alternative History – Steampunk is set in either the Victorian Era (19th Century), or in an alternative, future, occasionally depicted as a ‘wild west’ setting. 
  5. The Clothing – Clothing can vary, but is normally focused around the fashions of Victorian England, or that of a colonial explorer. 
  6. Augmented Mechanical Humans – In steampunk, persons can normally be seen with mechanically replaced elements to their body, sometimes these are full replacements, other times, a mechanical exoskeleton.
  7. Gadgets & Gears – futuristic (mechanical) gadgets are common place in the steampunk genre. A personal favorite is a gun that mechanically springs from up a sleeve to the user’s hand, ready and poised for use. Gears can be seen throughout the steampunk genre, emphasizing the mechanical theme that is central to the aesthetic.  
  8. Time Travel – Time travel is no an essential component of steampunk, however, it can be seen in some steampunk works. Just remember that the time travel device needs to be mechanical and not digital/ electronic.
  9. The Paranormal – The paranormal is not traditional steampunk, however, the crossover between the genres is common. The villain in steampunk is normally a man made creation as opposed to being a mythical creature, demon, vampire, etc. 
  10. Advanced Technology – Technology that is advanced for its time is a standard theme throughout steampunk. The technology must be mechanical in nature, such as the analog computer.

If you’re interested in steampunk movies, why not check out our guide to the best steampunk movies, and see if you can find a new favorite?

So, let’s take a look, is 9 steampunk?

What Elements of 9 Are Steampunk?

The creators of 9 refer to it is as ‘stitchpunk’, due to the nature of the dolls, however, there are some definite steampunk influences that can be seen in this movie.

The steam-powered ‘Fabrication Machine’ appears to be run by an analog computer that is within the steampunk genre, i.e. not digital computers  

Also, the characters can regularly be seen to be inventing items, which are cobbled together from different parts that they can find already in existence, this is very much in line with the inventions that can be seen within traditional steampunk. The materials that they use are all scraps of metal and wood, nothing fancy.

Although never explicitly stated, it is believed that the dolls are powered by gears on the inside. The symbolism of which is seen through steampunk and specifically in steampunk movies.

When their clothes are ripped, they expose metal skeletons, not wholeheartedly steampunk, however a nod to the augmentation that can often be seen in steampunk.

The clothing within 9 is reminiscent of that which can be seen in steampunk, with natural materials, which had literally been ‘stitched’ together. More interestingly is the steampunk-esque goggles that the characters can be seen wearing.

The creatures within 9 are all in keeping with steampunk. In this movie you can see giant worms, spiders, cats, and pterodactyl monsters, these all look both ancient and mechanical.

What Elements of 9 Are NOT Steampunk?

There are no elements of 9 that scream out that is it not steampunk, other than its creators defining it as ‘stitchpunk’ meets heavy metal.

So, Overall Is 9 Steampunk?

For me, despite what the creators were going for with this movie, I would consider 9 to be steampunk. As outlined above, it offers some really nice nods to the steampunk genre in multiple ways, with nothing in it really going against what we would expect to see in a classic steampunk movie. All in all, for me, 9 is a steampunk movie.

What are your thoughts? Is the movie 9 steampunk? Let us know in the comments below what your opinion is and why

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