Is Treasure Planet 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 Treasure Planet 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: Treasure Planet
Studio: Walt Disney Animation Studios, Walt Disney Pictures
Director: Ron Clements, John Musker
Story By: Robert Louis Stevenson, Ron Clements, John Musker
Release Date: November 27, 2002 (United States)
Main Actors: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Emma Thompson, Martin Short
Synopsis: In this science fiction rendering of the classic novel “Treasure Island”, Jim Hawkins (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) is a rebellious teen seen by the world as an aimless slacker. After he receives a map from a dying pirate, he embarks on an odyssey across the universe to find the legendary Treasure Planet.
What Makes a Movie Steampunk?
Before we answer the question, is Treasure Planet 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 Treasure Planet steampunk?
What Elements of Treasure Planet Are Steampunk?
Based on the aesthetic of the movie, at first glance, Treasure Planet would appear to be a steampunk movie. Emma Thompsons’ character, Captain Amelia has some amazing steampunk style outfits, However, the character of John Silver (played by Brian Murray) is even more interesting, he is both an alien and a cyborg with metal legs – augmentation being a common theme in the steampunk genre.
Then there is B.E.N, a robot who has lost his mind.
There is definitely an atmosphere of hope within the movie, this is synonymous with the steampunk genre, but the fashion, augmentation, and hope alone are probably not enough to describe this film as steampunk outright.
What Elements of Treasure Planet Are NOT Steampunk?
Electricity is used as the power source in this movie, not steam.
The Alponian Solar Cruiser is a vehicle that Jim Hawkins built himself, again, not powered by steam, but solar power. The pirate ships have solar sails to convert solar energy to power the ship.
So, Overall Is Treasure Planet Steampunk?
Although the style of Treasure Planet is very much steampunk, there is no reference to steam in it. The vehicles used are driven by solar power. So although steampunk-inspired, I’m not sure that this movie would neatly fit into any of the punk genres and may better be described as retro-futurism reimagining.
What are your thoughts? Is the movie Treasure Planet steampunk? Let us know in the comments below what your opinion is and why.