I love long, fancy dresses and dark, dignified suits. I’m also a fan of science fiction. So it makes sense that I’d be a steampunk fan. But I might never have encountered it (at least not by that name) if it hadn’t been for a somewhat obscure Disney cartoon that I saw when I was little.
Treasure Planet takes the story of Robert Louis Stevenson’s Treasure Island and puts it in a futuristic galaxy inhabited by weird aliens–who wear 18th-century clothes and fly around in solar-powered spaceships that look just like 18th-century sailing ships. Jim Hawkins is an angsty teenager with daddy issues. Long John Silver is a cyborg. Ben Gunn is a neurotic, abandoned robot. But the plot is basically the same as in the book, except that Samuel Arrow is a martyr instead of a drunk (movie adaptations always seem to get him wrong), the captain of the ship is female (which adds a touch of romance to the story), and the ending is slightly different. It’s one of the most visually stunning Disney cartoons ever, it has a gorgeous soundtrack, and it stars a couple of really big-name voice actors–including Joseph Gordon Leavitt, before he was cool. Yet somehow it tanked in the box office and isn’t well known even today. That’s a real shame, because it’s both my favourite Disney movie, and my favourite Treasure Island film adaptation.
Why It’s Steampunk:
This movie takes place in the future, and in space. Traditionally, steampunk is located on Earth and in the past. But whenever you have an alien with a robot arm wearing a tri-corner hat on the deck of a sailing ship propelled by jets, it’s safe to say that this is a steampunk movie. The setting really makes no sense, scientifically or historically, but it makes for some wonderful images.
And it also adds some fun to the dialogue.
“Doctor. To mewl and blabber about a treasure map, in front of this particular crew, demonstrates a level of ineptitude that borders on the imbecilic. And I mean that in a very caring way.”
(Everything Captain Amelia says is priceless.)
I loved this movie when I first watched it (I was maybe eleven or twelve), but I didn’t realize until later that there was a name for the weird, anachronistic world in which it’s set. So there you have it–my first introduction to steampunk! How did you first get into this genre?
Feel free to comment, and Namarie!