Saturday, November 13, 2010

Top 5 Cyberpunk Films (…that influenced Cyber Goth fashion)


Okay, so you’ve seen the title and by title alone, no doubt this article is going to cause a stir. Okay… that we know, but let’s see how we go. The following list is by no means definitive, but here are my top five cyberpunk films, based upon story, audience response and, for the interest of you, my dear reader, how they influenced the cybergoth fashion movement. Grab your laser gun and hack module, because we’re about to get started…

#1 The Matrix

Aside from the explosions, the fights, the mechanoids, the one thing that’s going to remain in your mind’s eye after the visual orgasm that is The Matrix is going to be the fashion. Even years after it’s 1999 release, The Matrix’s influence on the cyberpunk and cybergoth subculture was immense, bringing a corporate chic to the fore while maintaining that industrial edge. We’re talking shades, boots, jet-black hair and, of course, the trench coat. 
Men in trenchcoats (known as 'trenchers' in some circles) became stylish once again thanks to this fashionable film. Fortunately the Columbine tragedy, and the associated 'trench coat mafia' had little effect on this recognizable style.
 Who could forget the ballet-like prescision of Neo dodgy bullets and firing off round after round in that enigmatic jacket that fluttered behind him like a post-Apocalyptic superhero cape.

#2 Tetsuo: The Iron Man
 Warning: this film is very graphic and we decided to only choose a tamer example to display here. Check it out on DVD if you want to do it justice.
No, I am not refering to your favourite brand of instant-Ramen. Tetsuo was the 1989 surreal-cyberpunk masterpiece from Shinya Tsukamoto. The antagonist, known only at ‘the metal fetishist’ descends into a world of insanity when he discovers that metal is growing from his very skin and he is caught between a disturbing realm between man and technology. 
 Utilizing pieces of metal and piping, a la Tetsuo is seen frequently in the CG underground.
This incredible and macabre film, although produced before the cybergoth culture we know today, has had a tremendous influence on both it’s aesthetics and ethics. Cyber fashion that pushes the man-machinery idea has clearly taken influence from this amazing film and one only has to turn to the world of talented contemporary cybergoth make-up artists to see that this film turned many heads (and gears).

#3 Ghost in the Shell

While this entry covers the seminal 1995 anime, it does in a way incorporate the entire GITS franchise based around the intensely groundbreaking manga from Shirow Masamune. It’s difficult to pinpoint which Japanese manga is the most influential, but let this be representative of them all, as GITS marked a massive trend of cyberpunk stories that effected our conciousness, and likely the very cybergoth movement in the western world. AI, cyborgs, cybernetic entities—not to mention a dropdead gorgeous hottie of a protagonist, whose liberated, strong characteristics brought science-fiction out of the boy’s only club and into the girl’s world.

#4 The Crow

Okay, okay, I haven’t even started this one and I know already I’m going to cop a lot of flack for this one… but The Crow, which had a huge impact on wannabe goths everywhere, is an important film and needs to be mentioned. Fashion and aesthetics wise, The Crow combines decaying Victorian architecture and clothing with a decaying, industrialized neighborhood of steel mills and batteries. Cybergoth isn’t always about artificial intelligence and the future—it’s also about the decay of the present, and there wouldn’t be a culture to be involved in without this film.

#5 Dark City

While the above post may have steered things to a more trad-goth focus, this film is important in a different way. While Dark City was also directed by Australian genre-master Alex Proyas, Dark City turned to a different aesthetic, influenced heavily by 50s noir and art-deco stylings whilst retaining that gritty gothic feel. As cyber changes and moves towards a rave-style paradigm, it could be said that the emerging steampunk subculture steers goth into a both a past and future build around a post-modernist worldview. Femme fatales, jazz fusion, black and white tiles and cigarette smoke all get their familiar appearances but lurking beneath the surface is a longing for a simpler time, fused with the complexity of the future, an abstract apparition of fanciful creative thought.  

25 comments:

  1. Man Akira ruled. Oh, Cyberpunk, right.

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  2. Nah, I can agree with you on The Crow. Any love for Interview With A Vampire?

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  3. Wow, I hope you scratch that last comment I just sent.
    Let me try again...
    I can dig The Crow in your list.

    Any love for Johnny Mnemonic? Too bad Necromancer (the movie adaption) never really got it's treatment.

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  4. Hey guys! 'Akira' was actually on my list but I couldn't really articulate how it influenced cybergoth fashion. Hopefully 'Ghost' represents the collective Japanese influence upon this subculture. I do think 'Akira' easily THE greatest anime ever created, though.

    And Rorschach, I think you're right about Mnemonic! I guess not having some kind of William Gibson referenced is going to be extremely detrimental to this list...

    Anyway, thanks for your comments guys, I had a feeling this one would get heated.

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  5. Definitely agree with you on Dark City, very cool

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  6. I've seen all of them but tetsuo and they are incredible movies. I think the only movies the list is lacking is edward scissor hands and nightmare before christmas

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  7. wow, I'm not really into cyberpunk films, but I do like The Crow... it kind of set off the whole dark thing for me when I was younger

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  8. The Matrix is my all time favorite... the strong story line really overcomes Keanu's crappy acting

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  9. Since you have The Matrix is number one, what about the other ones in the series?

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  10. Dark City is my favorite in that list

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  11. They are remaking the Crow...that just bad.....I would also say Johnny Nemonic

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  12. I've never heard of #2. Sounds interesting. Added to my backlog, heh.

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  13. I think The Matrix and The Crow were the most influential. That's what I associate with cyber goth.

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  14. Cheers for the feedback guys. I noticed some of you said you haven't seen Testuo. Well let me tell you, you'll never have seen anything like it before! Very extreme and frightening both in a visual sense and psychological sense. This one really set the standard for extreme Japanese cinema when it was released.

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  15. Actually, Ghost in the Shell and Armitage is what I think about when I read your blog. Makes sense now.

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  16. The Crow was my favourite movie when I was a teenager. Luckily I grew up

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  17. Dark City is an interesting flick that I've only seen once. I had forgotten completely about it until seeing this post, thanks!

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  18. Ghost in the Shell is a classic!!! Johnny N...not so much. haha

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  19. Definitely Matrix, that stuff was weird as heck

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  20. epic man good list, I love the crow, hated all the wannabes that came after it.

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  21. Those are all fucked up kind of good movies! Just never realized how movies and fashions are linked

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  22. There are2 things I've always enjoyed (in terms of style)- Steampunk and cyberpunk. I have yet to finish neuromancer, but it is an awesome book for cyberpunk.

    I need to go back and see the Crow, I don't really remember it. Also, Tetsuo has been on my list for a long time. Kind of like drillbit Taylor!

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  23. Good list. Tetsuo is one of my favorite films. Dark City was great too.

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  24. Does Mad Max count? I was thinking that after Interview With A Vampire (I got my goth and cyberpunk horrible twisted).
    I guess post-apocalyptic =/= cyberpunk.

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