Is Atlantis: The Lost Empire 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 Atlantis: The Lost Empire 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: Atlantis: The Lost Empire
Studio: Walt Disney Animation Studios, Walt Disney Pictures
Director: Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise
Story By: Tab Murphy, Gary Trousdale, Kirk Wise, Joss Whedon, Bryce Zabel
Release Date: June 15, 2001 (United States)
Main Actors: Michael J. Fox, Jim Varney, Corey Burton
Synopsis: Set in 1914: Milo Thatch works in the boiler room of a museum, despite being an accomplished linguist and cartographer.
He knows that the City of Atlantis is real, and he can travel there if he has the mysterious Shephards journal – this can guide him to Atlantis.
He has to find somebody to fund his voyage. His employer thinks he’s crazy and refuses to fund him.
What Makes a Movie Steampunk?
Before we answer the question, is Atlantis: The Lost Empire 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
- 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’
- Steam Powered Vehicles – In steampunk movies, as with the above, you will only see vehicles powered by steam, cars, ships, and even submarines.
- Airships – Airships are popular within the steampunk genre – again, mechanically powered.
- 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.
- The Clothing – Clothing can vary, but is normally focused around the fashions of Victorian England, or that of a colonial explorer.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 Atlantis: The Lost Empire steampunk?
What Elements of Atlantis: The Lost Empire Are Steampunk?
As a viewer, we do not know what the submarine used to explore Atlantis runs on. It is definitely steampunk in appearance and very in keeping in style with what we have previously seen in Jules Verne movies.
Also, the technology appears to be ahead of its time.
There is a distinct exploration vibe that can often be found in steampunk as a genre as well as movies.
What Elements of Atlantis: The Lost Empire Are NOT Steampunk?
We find out towards the end of the movie that the present time is 1914, this is just a bit later than the Victorian era (20 Jun 1837 – 22 Jan 1901) in which steampunk movies are normally set. This in itself is not enough to rule out Atlantis as a steampunk movie, but it is certainly something to bear in mind.
A lot of the clothing that is seen in this movie is not steampunk in any way. A prime example is that outfit worn by Helga in her opening scene.
The architecture seen has a Southeast Asia, notably Cambodian feel, as well as taking influence from the Mayan architecture found in South America, this is not in keeping with the usual steampunk aesthetic.
Elements of dieselpunk can also be seen in the weapons that are used.
So, Overall Is Atlantis: The Lost Empire Steampunk?
Although Atlantis: The Lost Empire is not 100% accurate to the steampunk genre, and there are some nods to dieselpunk, overall, there it is clearly steampunk-inspired, and more importantly, a great watch!
What are your thoughts? Is the movie Atlantis: The Lost Empire steampunk? Let us know in the comments below what your opinion is and why.