Is Van Helsing 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 Van Helsing 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: Van Helsing
Studio: Universal Pictures, The Sommers Company, Stillking Films
Director: Stephen Sommers
Story By: Stephen Sommers
Release Date: May 7, 2004 (United States)
Main Actors: Hugh Jackman, Kate Beckinsale, Richard Roxburgh
Synopsis: Gabriel Van Helsing is employed by the Catholic church to rid it of evil.
The Vatican sends Van Helsing, and his ally, Carl, to Transylvania. Their mission is to stop the powerful Count Dracula. Whilst in Transylvania they join forces with a Gypsy Princess called Anna Valerious, who is determined to end an ancient curse on her family by destroying Dracula.
What Makes a Movie Steampunk?
Before we answer the question, is Van Helsing 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 the genre 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 Van Helsing steampunk?
What Elements of Van Helsing Are Steampunk?
The fashion in Van Helsing is amazing and very in keeping with the steampunk genre. You can see Van Helsing himself dressed in a cowboy hat, sporting a long brown leather overcoat with buckle accents, and that’s not where it ends! There’s also his statement leather vest over a turtleneck top, and brown pants.
From a female perspective, the character Anna Valerious, played by Kate Beckinsale, embodies steampunk fashion for women with her black courset with flecks of red in it with a delicate white fabric top.
This combines the elegance of Victorian England, with the vampish, risque undertones taken from the Burlesque influence that can so often be seen in female steampunk fashion.
The weaponry used within this movie is also in keeping with the steampunk genre.
Van Helsing himself uses custom revolvers, Velkan Valerious is seen using a Smith & Wesson Schofield Model 3, Velkan’s men fighting against the Wolfman use Springfield 1873 Trapdoor, there are numerous other firearms seen, all of which are appropriate to the era. Let’s not forget Van Helsing’s, gas-powered, custom build crossbow, which fires bolts from a rotating drum.
Even better still, there is an invention room under the church, used by Carl, seriously channeling the steampunk, inventions, and gadgets vibe.
As far as the ‘baddies’ go, there is Dracular himself, as well as other vampires, Duergar, Mr. Hyde, Frankenstein’s monster, and werewolves.
What Elements of Van Helsing Are NOT Steampunk?
I’m struggling to come up with anything in Van Helsing that would suggest that it is not steampunk. If you can think of something, please share it with us all in the comments below.
So, Overall Is Van Helsing Steampunk?
Oh yes! Ven Helsing is a perfect example of a steampunk movie, from the fashion to the inventions, to the weapons. If you are looking for a steampunk in the movie to watch that has it all, this is it.
If steampunk vampire movies are your thing, check out our article on the best steampunk vampire movies.
What are your thoughts? Is the movie Van Helsing steampunk? Let us know in the comments below what your opinion is and why.