Is The City Of Lost Children Steampunk?

Is The City Of Lost Children 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 The City Of Lost Children 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: The City Of Lost Children

Studio: Constellation, Lumière Pictures, Le Studio Canal+

Director: Marc Caro, Jean-Pierre Jeunet

Story By: Gilles Adrien, Jean-Pierre Jeunet, Marc Caro

Release Date: December 15, 1995 (United States)

Main Actors: Ron Perlman, Daniel Emilfork, Judith Vittet

Synopsis: Set in a dystopian society, someone is kidnapping the children. Krank and his band of clones are using the children to harvest their dreams. Then they kidnap Denree, the brother of One, a carnival strongman. One sets out to find his brother.

What Makes a Movie Steampunk?

Before we answer the question, is The City Of Lost Children 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 The City Of Lost Children steampunk?

What Elements of The City Of Lost Children Are Steampunk?

The ocular implants worm in this movie, especially by Cyclops’, are futuristic, but their art-deco styling combined with their analog output has that anachronistic element that is often seen within steampunk.

A lot of the clothing seen is in keeping with the steampunk genre with a lot of Victorian fashion being embraced, a prime example being the fashion of Mademoiselle Bishmuth. On that note, the time when this movie is set is never specified, although, from the clothing, we would guess that it is Victorian England, which would be in keeping with the steampunk genre.

In keeping with the spirit of the invention, there is no end of bizarre mechanical contraptions and technology. We’ve got Uncle Irvin who communicates from his fish tank through an upcycled phonograph horn. There is Krank himself who conducts his experiments in a converted oil platform out at sea.

Everything as a whole has a slightly rusty, retro look which is normal in steampunk.

What Elements of The City Of Lost Children Are NOT Steampunk?

The film has a dystopian outlook, literally as I don’ think we ever see daylight in the movie. Which is not in keeping with the ‘hope’ that is often seen in steampunk. For this fact, it is more likely that The City of The Lost Children would fit neater into the dieselpunk genre.

Krank’s dream-extracting machine, which he uses to steal dreams from children and implant them appears to use electricity to power it, this is out of kilter with the steampunk genre.

So, Overall Is The City Of Lost Children Steampunk?

Yes, there are more than enough steampunk elements within The City of Lost Children to make this movie steampunk. Yes, there are a couple of small elements that sit outside of the genre, but overall, I would say that this is a steampunk movie.

What are your thoughts? Is the movie The City Of Lost Children steampunk? Let us know in the comments below what your opinion is and why.

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