Another cool thing about steampunk is that you can use it for a wide variety of stories. It only dictates the “landscape” of a story, so to speak, not the plot or the characters. So steampunk movies can be quite different from one another. Some good ones I’ve seen are: Hugo, Disney’s Treasure Planet and the Robert Downey Jr. Sherlock Holmes movies. But I have to say my favourite steampunk movie is:
The Prestige is just an all-around great movie, whether you’re into steampunk or not. Directed by Christopher Nolan (the guy behind the Dark Knight trilogy and Inception) and starring Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman (two of my favourite actors ever), it’s the story of two up-and-coming magicians on the 19th-century London stage who become rivals. After one of them causes an accident during a performance, they become mortal enemies, going to greater and greater lengths to outdo one another in performing the perfect trick. More than that I can’t say, because this movie is chock-full of plot twists, as you might expect from the creator of dream-within-a-dream storylines. It has one of the best-written screenplays I’ve ever seen. The acting is superb and the story is both intensely exciting and deeply thought-provoking.
The main reason it fits into the steampunk category is that the real-life scientist Nikola Tesla plays an important role in the story. Tesla was such a brilliant, off-the-wall scientist in real life that it doesn’t take much exaggeration to make him a science fiction character.
This scene from the movie is based on real photos of Tesla’s lab in Colorado, where he performed experiments using electricity that are still not fully understood today. He was crazy. And also way ahead of his time, which makes almost any fictional story in which he appears automatically steampunk.
“Are you watching closely? Every magic trick consists of three parts, or acts. The first part is called the Pledge. The magician shows you something ordinary: a pack of cards, a bird, or a man…The second act is called the Turn. The magician takes the ordinary something and makes it do something extraordinary. Now you’re looking for the secret. But you won’t find it, because, of course, you’re not really looking. You don’t really want to work it out. You want to be fooled. But you wouldn’t clap yet, because making something disappear isn’t enough: you have to bring it back. That’s why every magic trick has a third act, the hardest part, the part we call the Prestige.”
Good show. If you haven’t seen it yet, you should!