Is A Series Of Unfortunate Events Steampunk?

Is A Series Of Unfortunate Events 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 Lemony Snicket’s A Series Of Unfortunate Events 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: A Series Of Unfortunate Events

Studio: Paramount Pictures, Dreamworks Pictures, Nickelodeon Movies

Director: Brad Silberling

Story By: Daniel Handler, Robert Gordon

Release Date: December 17, 2004 (United States)

Main Actors: Jim Carrey, Jude Law, Meryl Streep

Synopsis: Three children – Violet, Klaus, and Sunny Baudelaire – are left orphaned when their house burns down, with their parents in it. The circumstances of the blaze are mysterious.

They are left in the care of a distant relative, Count Olaf  It is soon apparent that Count Olaf only cares about the children for their large inheritance.

What Makes a Movie Steampunk?

Before we answer the question, is A Series Of Unfortunate Events 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 A Series Of Unfortunate Events steampunk?

What Elements of A Series Of Unfortunate Events Are Steampunk?

The steampunk aesthetic can be seen all over the children’s house, with the typical steampunk, slightly gloomy yet ethereal, colors being used.

Clocks, gears, and pocketwatches can all be seen in this movie, such as the gauges and cogs used on the VFD decoder scope. In addition to this, there is the brass and piston technology of Montgomery’s pseudo vault door. All of these details are in keeping with the steampunk aesthetic.

The movie is set in an unusual, anachronistic time that is based on the Victorian style clothing that is worn by the main characters, we can only assume is indicative of the movie being set in the Victorian era.

Within the movie old and new inventions are used. Characters can be seen using typewriters and using telegrams, aligned with a non-digital era.

What Elements of A Series Of Unfortunate Events Are NOT Steampunk?

The car driven by Mr Poe is a Tatra 603. This model was built during the Cold War in Czechoslovakia. This definitely runs on petrol in real life, and although this is not referenced in the film, an alternative fuel source is not referenced.

In addition to steampunk, gothic, art deco, and film noir influences can also be seen within the movie.

So, Overall Is A Series Of Unfortunate Events Steampunk?

I would say, yes, overall Lennony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate fits into the steampunk genre more than any other. This can be seen through the setting, the clothing, the gadgets, and the inventions.

What are your thoughts? Is the movie A Series Of Unfortunate Events steampunk? Let us know in the comments below what your opinion is and why.

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