Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Steampunk Cinematics for the Small Screen

Welcome once again my friends and lovely crew.  It has been quite a week for the good captain, in fact I am still trying to catch my breath from the incredible adventures I have been undertaking since last we spoke.  Explorations of the weird west, the dust bowl, the fallen kingdoms, and other lands that defy a simple teasing description.  Fear not little coggies, for the good captain did not once forget about you and all the while I was out undertaking quests of startling magnitude I was ever vigilant for those who were capturing these tales in their moving picture machines.  Yes, that's right...moving pictures of steampunk fantasy I have for you today.  You don't mind if I try to clean the dirt out of my leather frock coat while I continue do you?  It is so dreadfully difficult to get out of the stitching you know.  Righto, then let's begin shall we.

A very steampunk web series that the good captain has recently discovered is entitled Riese: Kingdom Falling and it is produced by the Syfy Channel.  The synopsis from the official website:
Riese: Kingdom Falling takes place in Eleysia, a dying kingdom where distrust and anxiety have clouded people's minds, causing a regression into primitive ways of thinking. Rituals and mythology have resurged, and the darker side of mankind has begun to reveal itself. Riese, a wanderer, travels across the decaying land with her wolf, Fenrir. Marked as a heretic by religious group The Sect and the new Empress, Riese must evade their assassins and discover their true intentions for Eleysia.

Riese is certainly aiming to hit the steampunk bulls eye as becomes quite evident in the first few minutes.  With big names such Amanda Tapping of Stagate fame, this show could truly become a steampunk classic if they hire some writers for it!  Oh, I'm being informed that they do in fact have writers for the show.  I shall maintain my skepticism for the time being then.  Anyway, they clearly have invested money into their wardrobes with some fantastic steampunk styles however the setting doesn't seem nearly steamy enough to explain why people like decorative gears and such so much.  It feels like a western set in a forest populated by mechanics lacking machinery.  My main complaint is the near constant narration of everything taking place on screen.  The good captain is a smart man.  I can clearly see that our heroine is sneaking into the warehouse.  Does that really need to be pointed out explicitly via narration when it's taking place right in front of my eyes?  Apparently so...  I still recommend investigating this show for yourself.  It certainly is steamy and may appeal more to your sensibilities and fear not, I am perhaps being quite critical of this because it hits so close to the mark (though my criticism of the narration will stand).

As a gift for you little gearheads, here is episode 1 for your viewing pleasure.  If you feel compelled to continue on with the adventure head over to the website.  They have a full 10 episodes available for you to watch.  No need to thank me.

Next up, for your viewing pleasure Western X is a mysterious tale of a lone gunslinger in the weird west.  This original web series debuted a few months back, and the first three episodes are already available for viewing. Here's a synopsis of the show from the website:
On the plains of a desert wasteland, a man known only as X is on the verge of death. Among a pile of dead bodies he awakens, with no memories of his past and hunted by an unknown enemy, he struggles to uncover the truth behind his identity; this is the beginning of his journey. Each episode uncovers some truth about who he is and sheds light on the strange world he finds himself in.

While not overtly steampunk, I've yet to see brass or goggles or anything steam powered, the overall setting and story certainly have that weird west feel to them which in itself makes it a close relative of steampunk, like a cousin twice removed perhaps.  In truth, the story so far moves slowly but it can be expected from a tale of mystery such as this.  The director seems to have a fondness for closeups of people looking about, nervously, bewildered, or just menacingly which appeared to the good captain as more a way to fill out the episodes as opposed to adding much to the story.  Regardless, this has a good feel and can easily make the jump from weird west to proper western steampunk quite easily.  Do check it out, and then pray to your heathen gods they really steam it up as the show continues. 

Perhaps the most promising steampunk movie is just that, a short film entitled Nickel Children.

Winner of 8 awards already, Nickel Children is a dark tale which makes home in the dark and soot covered corners of steampunk - child slavery.  From the website:
In an alternate 19th Century, dust bowl Kansas, a young boy witnesses his parent’s murder, and is forced to survive in an underground child fighting ring. Only the wealthiest are invited to attend these secret communities to bet on the children for their own amusement. However, one among them, is determined to find her abducted son ... whatever the cost.

Regrettably I cannot provide a link to a full version of the film as it is still touring the various film and niche conventions gathering up all those awards, however the good captain's tip will hopefully put this movie on your augurs so you that you might keep an eye out for it in the future.  I highly recommend that you do, and to further entice you here is the teaser trailer.

Looks quite intriguing does it not.  Also quite serious, so to lift the mood the good captain has brought you the Wandering Legion to brighten things up in the aftermath.  Quite goofy and often silly, the Wandering Legion brings the lighter of steampunk, or as they call it the Brass Sickness, to the Masses.  This is by no means professional quality like the above moving pictures, but it's steampunks being steamy and for that they should be supported.  Here is, while not their most recent skit, my personal favorite starring the Wandering Legion and the lovely lasses of Steampunk Postal!

To ensure that the spirits of my good crew are sufficiently light (so as not to weigh down the Anomaly Obscura Engine) I will leave you off with some musical chicanery that you may enjoy while working.  First, a proper gentleman who voluntarily elected to debase himself and turn, my mind recoils at the thought, entertainer.  While distasteful for a gentleman to lower himself to such levels, I must confess he has quite a penchant for rhymes so without further ado, two songs (two for Tuesday!) from Professor Elemental

Cup of Brown Joy

Fighting Trousers

I do hope you enjoy the many eyefuls of steampunk images moving across your mind right now, but sadly it's time for you to put down that cup of brown joy and return to work, lest I am forced to put on my fighting trousers.  There's a good gear.  Pip pip.

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