Dieselpunk is a fantastic reimagining of the period from about 1920 through the 40s. Dieselpunk tends to be darker than its steampunk cousin. It’s flexible in that it can incorporate stories which do NOT take place in that time period but are heavily permeated with that period’s feel and flare. A noir style detective piece set on the planet Zamboozala 6 for instance would be dieselpunk if the feel were indeed central to the piece. Stories set around the technology level of the period most certainly count too.
Thus it is that we list the 10 best Dieselpunk movies made, even though in almost all cases the film makers did not set out to make their films be “Dieselpunk” or indeed were even aware of the term.
10. Captain America
The most recent on this list, and while not the jaw dropping classic some of the others ones are, it’s a very, very fun film.
9. Sky Captain & The World of Tomorrow
Sky Captain is utterly and completely Dieselpunk. It’s pretty much written to encapsulate the definition. It’s a gorgeous, gorgeous movie and rather than the dark side of Dieselpunk, it’s quite light and pleasant. I present here the original short the theatrical version was based off of.
8. Sucker Punch
This move never got the props it deserved. Critics were divided but personally, i loved this film. It’s no epic oscar winner, but it was insanely mind blowing as a visual feast. It’s the kind of movie you voice your enjoyment of with profanity while watching. (“DUDE! HOLY FFFFFFF….”)
7. Mad Max: The Road Warrior
Surprised by this one? An action classic it is definitely dieselpunk. Everyone’s obsessed with diesel for one. Post apocalyptic, the societal tech is diesel era and that fact does permeate the film. Plus, it’s one of the best action movies ever. It was made back when there were no CGI and stunts had to be real. A far away and madcap time called… the 80s.
6. Sin City
Hot damn was this movie fun. I had some issues with it vs the graphic novels, which is strange because they were almost shot to shot perfect, but never the less this film is extremely fun and well done.
5. City Of Lost Children
Now we get to the films which are… actually great films. The films before this are “awesome” but past the fanboy excitement, most of these next films actually possess true, deep cinematic greatness. City of Lost Children for instance. It is truly like a dark, dieselpunk fairy tales, utterly otherworldly and moving.
4. Dark City
Sky Captain may be utterly dieselpunk, but Dark City practically invents it. This scores so high on the list because if there was one movie i’d point to in order to explain what dieselpunk really is, it’s Dark City. It’s also a flat out fantastic fantastical flick.
Terry Gillian’s masterpiece. It’s… a dystopian satire? The film that invented retro futurism? A staggeringly effective and moving portrayal of the classic indivicual being drowned by the state and society story? This film is greatness. And kind of weird.
This film is not kind of weird. It ate weird for breakfest and then two girls one cupped it. David Lynch’s first film. It’s beyond a classic. It’s one of those films that as ridiculously fucked up as it is, you have to have watched it simply because… it’s fucking Eraserhead. You simply have to have watched it at some point otherwise you fail at life.
1. Blade Runner
Sci fi? Check. Film noir? Check? A classic? Check. Jaw dropping to watch? Check. Moving to the point of leaving you in a different state of reality when over? Check. Masterful attention to detail? Check. Blade Runner. It doesn’t get much better. Indeed, it’s hard to think of a better sci fi film. It might seem hardly dieselpunk, but although set firmly in the future the 40s noir feeling permeates every shot, every minute of the movie. It’s gritty, and the tech is not shiny, it’s kind of gritty and messy too. A masterpiece of film making by any standard.