1884

1884 is an upcoming film by Terry Gilliam, a member of the Monty Python comedy troupe, that has an undeniable Steampunk flair to it. The trailer below is precisely the sort of thing the  Victorians would have imagined their future. The film will use animation, live-action puppets, CGI characters and the eyes and mouths of real actors.

As Variety says, it “imagines a film made in 1848 with steam power, narrating a tale of laughable imperialist derring-do and espionage set in a futuristic 1884, when Europe is at war, steam-powered cars fly in the sky and man has landed on the moon.”

I’m really excited about the prospects for this film. It seems perfectly whimsical and light-hearted… I can’t wait to see this put into full production.

A Trip to the Moon

Today, I’ve a bit of a Steampunk history lesson for all of you who may be interested in proto-Steampunk works.

A Trip to the Moon is a 1902 French black and white silent science fiction film. It is based loosely on two popular novels of the time: From the Earth to the Moon by Jules Verne and The First Men in the Moon by H. G. Wells. And while the film obviously came out a long time before Steampunk was even a concept, the film is a mashup of the two most referenced proto-Steampunk writers.

So to explore our roots, let’s watch Georges Méliès’ A Trip to the Moon. As a History major (among other things) I think it’s important to know where Steampunk came from, so we may better understand our present.

A Trip to the Moon was named as one of the 100 greatest films of the 20th century by The Village Voice, ranking in at #84. (For all you film junkies, you can see the complete list here). Also, if you find yourself interested in the beginnings of film making and would like to see more, there is an excellent DVD collection of entire films (read, not just clips) called Landmarks of Early Film. It’s an essential compendium of early cinematography for anyone interested in film.

The Anachronism

This is a short film I’ve been waiting to show you all for a while now. It was supposed to make its web debut on the 17th of April, and when it didn’t surface as scheduled, it’s eventual appearance got a bit delayed. Here it is now, The Anachronism, a short film by Mathew Gordonlong about two young aspiring naturalists who happen upon an incredible discovery:

This film won 6 Leo awards, including the coveted Best Short Drama. I really like the cinematography of the film and the props are breathtaking.

I found the ending somewhat dissatisfying, though. Short film, just like short stories, are hard for me to get into because I find they have ended just when I am getting to know a character and the world that they live in. The resolution in short works is often sudden and often leaves me wondering, “So… why did you stop?” or “That’s it?”

That feeling really hit me hard with The Anachronism. Unlike a past short film that I featured, La Main des Maîtres, which left me with the feeling of possibility that the world might change in the future, this film left me feeling disappointed in the failure of the children to act. Why didn’t they do anything? Why  were they not called to adventure? The missed opportunity bugs me, but perhaps that is the point. Still, I don’t like it. Am I the only one that feels this way?

Nevertheless, the film is beautiful and worth a watch on this lovely Saturday evening.