I’m a huge cyberpunk fan. Both in literature, film and Anime. I also enjoy steampunk and biopunk.
I’m asking movie lovers for recommendations as to cyberpunk films I might have missed out on… I’ve watched the typical films related to cyberpunk…
The last one I saw was Babylon A.D. (which almost boils down to nothing more than a Vince Diesel vehicle). The aesthetics were nice; the film was pretty awful… poorly-written script with stale dialogue and flimsy plot. Charlotte Rampling and Lambert Wilson were worth watching. Rampling just fills up the entire screen, such is her grace, the power of her acting and timeless beauty. Mark Strong and Depardieu made me smile, just because I enjoy watching them act. I’m assuming Kassovtiz’s adaptation falls short of Dantec’s saga (which I’d love to get my hands on someday).
I expected more from Mathieu Kassovitz both as a screenwriter and filmmaker. I tend to enjoy his films (except for Gothika… what a waste of two hours of my life…)
Anyway, your recommendations will be appreciated and written down in my little notebook. =)
whats a cyberpunk?
Yeah, Babylon A.D. was a giant mess of a film. Apparently, the studio was partially to blame but Kassovitz was over his head and Vin Diesel’s casting probably ruined its chances from the start.
For cyberpunk films, I would say Blade Runner (okay, too obvious), Liquid Sky, Repo Man,Hardware, Cypher, and Naked Lunch (if that counts?). Maybe add the Lawnmower Man too. I remember liking it but haven’t seen it in ages.
@ Mofo: Good question… let’s see…
In a nutshell: Cyberpunk is a science fiction genre characterized by a near future in which mega corporations rule and where technology is of the utmost importance (neural connections to computers, etc. etc…). Cities are overpopulated, the atmosphere is dark from pollution… and in the midst of these conditions a group of rebels arise (hence the word “punk”)… these rebels fight the system. There’s a lot of media manipulation going on and a totalitarian state is usually part of the status quo.
In terms of aesthetics, think “Blade Runner”.
The first cyberpunk novel was “Do Androids dream of Electric Sheep” (1968) by Phillip K. Dick. Blade Runner is based on it… Though the term “cyberpunk” was coined in the early eighties by a short story writer, Bethke.
@ Thanks Ari, there are a couple on your list I haven’t seen yet… =)
so, like the matrix?
@ Mofo: Yes, like the Matrix. =)
from what i’ve heard about that movie daybreakers, it seems to fit into this category, i’ve also heard that it’s a fairly decent movie
maybe i should check that one out….
Brazil? Sort of.
Well, apparently Neuromancer is being made, but it’s currently being reworked by the director of Splice, so allow a few moments to let the dread set in.
How about Tetsuo? Also, Tokyo Gore Police! Strange Days possibly? Outland? Westworld? Logan’s Run maybe? Judge Dredd? Until the End of the World? A stretch I know …
Also Aeon Flux, the Terminator films, 12 Monkeys, and eXistenz would qualify as cyberpunk sci-fi films/series’. There’s a lot of films that contain little traces of cyberpunk, but with the exception of Blade Runner, there really hasn’t been any truly deep-rooted cyberpunk films.
AND, I’d call Split Second cyberpunk in “tone” (tying in that Rutger association from Blade Runner). Wonderful film. Good luck finding it though (a torrent does exist I believe).
>> it’s currently being reworked by the director of Splice, so allow a few moments to let the dread set in. <<
I’m actually somewhat psyched for Splice. Although, half of it may be because I have a huuuge crush on Sarah Polley. But nevertheless, I think it looks pretty decent.
But my dread has set in because the fact now remains that Chris Cunningham will never touch Neuromancer, a task which was probably the only reason Cunningham was put on this earth. :(
This is an awesome thread.
Is it accurate to call “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” the FIRST cyberpunk novel? It seems a grab only because of its association with the film “Blade Runner”. And considering the permutations with the term “punk” shifting in definition into a particular movement that began in the mid-70s, it’s a bit of a stretch to throw back the term cyberpunk to the late 60s when Dick’s novel was first published. I read the book before “Blade Runner” came out. At the time it didn’t strike me as being “punk”, cyber or otherwise.
Besides, William Gibson’s “Neuromancer”, considered by many to be the first cyberpunk novel, came out in 1984, while “Blade Runner” came out in 1982, so wouldn’t it be more accurate to say the cyberpunk movement actually started with the film “Blade Runner”, not the novel “Neuromancer”? The film influenced the novel, and the movement, possibly?
My only bit of forwarding evidence (silly and slight though it may be) for this would be my feeling upon seeing the first advance photo of Harrison Ford in the film back in the day before the film even came out, with his very short hair, an almost buzz-cut, kinda spiky, which reminded me of the style of some punkers back in the day. It did look kinda punk, though, I thought at the time. And a typical 80s haircut it certainly was not.
“Is it accurate to call “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” the FIRST cyberpunk novel?”
No. I don’t think that much of Dick’s literary style matches any of the visual aesthetics that would eventually be born from his works. His world’s are usually the genuine drab-drab of suburban banality rather than the chic-drab of, say, BLADE RUNNER’s cool, sleek urban dystopia, in spite of DO ANDROIDS… indeed taking place in an (abandoned) urban setting. I was always surprised to hear him say that the rushes of BR looked so much like the images in his head that someone must have scanned his brain: the images in BR are nowhere near the images evoked by the book, nor almost any other Dick book I can think of, though the paranoia in his books is much more palpably intense than any adaptation has achieved. Actually, the already obsolete and breaking-down vaguely near-future of Linklater’s A SCANNER DARKLY is the closest I’ve seen to an accurate visual adaptation of a respective Dick novel.
Meanwhile, VIDEODROME Agustina? Just watched STRANGE DAYS which is deeply indebted to it….
i’m a huge fan of cyberpunk, and these are the only films i can think of that relate, although only a couple truly fit the description. most of these have already been mentioned, but this is coming from someone whose been into this shit for twelve years!!
tetsuo (iron man)
hardware (ties with tetsuo for being the best of cyberpunk films)
tetsuo II: body hammer
lawnmower man (try to find a director’s cut… i don’t know if it’s even available though)
a scanner darkly
aeon flux (the series)
(some foreign movie called NAILS is supposed to be good)
a clockwork orange
city of lost children
you’ll notice that only three or four of these TRULY fit into the genre. i guess there just aren’t many people into it.
also, there’s tons of japanese and anime cyberpunk movies out there i’ve never seen
i forgot altered states and 1984 and jubilee
you’ll notice that what is missing from most of these movies is the “punk” aspect. very small genre
I never heard this kind of terminology for films before. poor me. But it seems they are pretty nice to watch on.
Wow… thanks Ari, Deckard, Kafka and everyone else for their lovely suggestions… There are many films I haven’t seen and I’m super grateful…
@Deckard: I haven’t watched “Split Second” and I had no idea Neuromancer was being made… !
@Johnny: Thanks for the long list Johnny…
@Armands / Ben S.: There is some dissent as to what the first cyberpunk novel would actually be. Not the one that started the movement, but the one that paved the way for the movement. In terms of paving the way or there being a glimpse of a future cyberpunk movement, I firmly believe Dick’s novel would be the one. Obviously, punk rock peaked in the mid seventies and from then on the punk subculture, so Dick could have never used the word “cyberpunk” in his novel… And there is no doubt that term was coined by Bethke.
What Dick did in “Do Androids” was develop a new form of science fiction, thus making him the predecessor of all cyberpunk things to come, as cyberpunk did borrow from Dick, even though it evolved, developed an identity (aesthetics and pacing) and peaked with Gibson’s literature. There is no doubt in my mind that Gibson is the pillar of all things cyberpunk… He is considered the father…. Dick would be the grandfather, or at least the pilgrim/pioneer.
Anyway, those are the reasons why many followers of cyberpunk state his novel as the “first one”. But as I said, there is dissent on the issue.
And of course, the genre keeps evolving as different authors add their pieces to the body of work that is cyberpunk. Today there are 2 recognizable branches: biopunk and steampunk (which though was intended as a joke, actually became a subgenre).
One more thing, my personal viewpoint regarding imagery and literature has always been that the images evoked by a literature piece take place in the mind of the one reading, therefore literary imagery differs depending on the reader… while there is a common element to the imagery as per the author’s description and how well he uses language, it is finally the reader that uses his or her own imagination to produce such images, hence the difference between what was in the author’s head and what ends up, ultimately, in ours… This is not to say that Dick gave birth to cyberpunk aesthetics as we know them, but as I stated above, consider Dick the pilgrim/pioneer/grandfather of the genre… I recall my imaginative experience reading Dune and then actually watching Lynch’s film. Way different. Lynch was better… LOL…
@Ben S: I watched Videodrome… a long time ago and found it hard to get over Cronenberg’s concern with the new flesh… He’s very much into that : warped human bodies… It was a really good film (I like Cronenberg in general), though a bit shocking as I was in my early teens when I watched it!! And Strange Days I also watched… more than once… =)
Oddity: the new Metro in Santiago, Chile is super cyberpunk. It blows my mind every time I travel to Santiago and ride it. I make believe I’m living the cyberpunk life and on my way to hack something and fight the corporations.
Some pics: (there are monitors running news and ads every certain meters, which make the whole thing even more cyberpunk, sadly, they’re not in the pics)
Wow, that is one cool looking metro.
I’ve always understood cyberpunk as terrestrial, urban, hard science fiction taking place in a future that’s at least moderately relatable to our own time. Some weird stuff gets thrown into the genre, though… read the Mirrorshades anthology, supposedly an essential cyberpunk collection, for some stuff you wouldn’t expect to be attached to such a movement.
I’d say Blade Runner and Johnny Mnemonic were the most heartfelt attempts to capture the actual cyberpunk aesthetic on-screen. Also, you could place Godard’s Alphavilla in this category, which has the same twisted post-industrial urban aesthetic as some of the quirkier cyberpunk literature.
These are worlds where technology and digital awareness have so infiltrated peoples’ lives that EVERYTHING gravitates around them — institutions and corporations are digital, personalities are simulated, and even our existential crises are played out in circuits instead of neurons. I’ve always loved the junk-tech aesthetic that Gibson brings to everything he writes, showing us that we’re creating a world with a digital and technological ecosystem, completely pervading, and sometimes replacing, the natural and social systems that have traditionally conditioned our lives.
I’m excited for Neuromancer, and I’ll be more excited for it if Splice turns out to be as good as it’s supposed to be. I heard, back in the day, that a music video director was doing the film, and that Hayden Christensen was playing Case, which scared the shit out of me. I’m glad things seem to be changing on that front. Neuromancer has always been among my absolute favorite books.
Any truth to the rumor that the scenes inside the matrix of Neuromancer will be photographed in 3D? That would be cool, actually. When the protagonist, Case, slips on the magic glasses, so would we.
To all: has anyone had a chance to see Fassbinder’s WORLD ON A WIRE, and if so how does that fit into the discussion?
Ben Simington World on a Wire might be the ultimate cyperpunk movie.
Ghost in Shell is another great example, to mention the word cyperpunk without mentioning Japanese anime and or manga is is like mentioning action film without mentioning John Woo.
God I wish Chris Cunningham made Necromancer, That would THE FILM to look forward to
I dont know that I would consider Liquid Sky to be cyperpunk but since I enjoy the film so much I don’t mind it yet when I think Liquid Sky I associate that movie more with the 80s NYC New Wave scene, much like Downtown 81 or Smithereens.
That metro in Chile is so cool it screams film a movie here.
@Ari and Rudy: I know! The Chilean Metro is pretty amazing… Wish the pics could show the monitors… it makes it even more futuristic…. =)
Wow… “World on a wire” I had read about it…. always wanted to watch it.
I watched Ghost in the Shell and loved it. I am huge fan of Anime, never had a chance to read Manga, though.
Did anyone here watch Immortel (ad vitam) (2004) or read the graphic novel by Enki Bilal? I don’t know if we mentioned it on this thread…. Loved it. I watched it three times in one month. The only downside were the digital characters, I understood the intent (“Say no to Eugenics, synthetic flesh and virtual brains”), but they should have just used human actors. But no matter, as I stated the movie was great. I loved it.
KJ: 3D? Does that look ok? I’ve never watched a 3D film in my life.
Avalon is one of the very best cyberpunk films
Videodrome gets my vote.
how about PRIMER? I also liked a Mexican film called SLEEP DEALER.
And I’d have to agree that Gibson’s Neuromancer is really the first cyberpunk. I’ve also got an anthology by Bruce Sterling called Mirrorshades that had some great early cyberpunk stories in it circa 1981-1986. And did anyone else read Omni magazine?
“2046” has some cyberpunk visuals, though that is about the extent of its relationship with the genre.
Neuromancer is widely considered to be the first cyberpunk (which I guess I’d agree because it has all the conventional elements of what we consider cyberpunk to be today), but Roger Zelazny had already tapped dat genre a few times beforehand in the ‘60s and ’70s…just sayin’. ;)
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Cyberpunk is a great idea but most of the films are utter shit because they feel like they’ve been made by sci-fi/comic/etc. geeks/fanboys rather than artists with genuine vision.
“Cyberpunk is a great idea but most of the films are utter shit because they feel like they’ve been made by sci-fi/comic/etc. geeks/fanboys rather than artists with genuine vision.”
You should see Johny Mnemonic,written by the father of cyberpunk William Gibson and directed by NYC visual artist Robert Longo. Pure crap.
Worse than the Matrix.