The Best Steampunk Animation Ever?

January 2005 saw the release of a modest Australian animated short film that some, this writer included, consider to be the best Steampunk film ever made thus far. The following year it was recognized in the Academy Awards and received a nomination for best short film; despite not winning, the film did win in eleven other film festivals around the world including three wins at 2005’s DragonCon.

That film is . . .

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Many of you have most likely seen this film before, it’s been floating around YouTube for close to a decade now, but if you have not seen, then you are truly in for a most memorable treat.

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Amelia delivers a letter and its second chance to Jasper.

Running 26 minutes long, the film follows our protagonist Jasper Morello, a disgraced airship navigator given a second chance aboard the Resolution to employ his skills, restore his reputation, and cast out the ghost that haunts him. A terrible plague ravishes Jasper’s home town of Gothika, where his wife, Amelia, is a nurse treating the sick. The Resolution‘s main mission is to deploy communication beacons along a new trade route, but they also carry a passenger, the eccentric Dr. Belgon who is conducting research into the plague. Early into the mission, Jasper learns that Amelia has contracted the plague, the Resolution crashes into a mysterious abandoned airship, and a crew member falls sick to the plague as well, but perhaps the answer to the cure lies in a horrific discovery? 

Morello was produced and directed by Anthony Lucas and Julia Lucas, written by Mark Shirrefs, and features the voice talents of Joel Edgerton, Helmut Bakaitis, Tommy Dysart, and Jude Beaumont.

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The crew find a mysterious floating island.

The film is very stylized with a juxtaposition of beautifully crafted CGI back drops against the stark silhouettes of the characters in the foreground. The characters operate in the distinct fashion of shadow puppets, yet despite their simplicity manage to convey much emotion and characterization. Aside from the somewhat heavy handed naming of the town “Gothika,” the overall production succeeds because none of it looks like it’s “trying too hard” to be a Steampunk movie. The technology is there, the fashions are there, the archetypes are there, but all of it has an air of familiarity and daily use that quickly leads an audience to accepting this world without the need for repeated exposition.

So, if you have still yet to see The Mysterious Geographic Explorations of Jasper Morello, please put aside half an hour, sit back, relax, and enjoy the film that I maintain is one of the best examples of Steampunk that has emerged . . .

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