Dieselpunk + Steampunk Culture

Waterworld is a 1995 post-apocalyptic science fiction film. The film was directed by Kevin Reynolds, co-written by Peter Rader and David Twohy based on Rader's original 1986 screenplay and stars Kevin Costner, who also produced it. It was distributed by Universal Pictures.

After the doomsday event of flooding caused by global warming melting the ice caps and end of civilization, the ramshackle remnants of the human race who survived the deluge now live in large floating constructs made up of various rusty junk and grimy debris found floating on the ocean; these watery settlements are called atolls after the similar type of island which no longer exist. The dwellers of atolls are a nautical society, albeit a gritty, primitive and superstitious one, with a patriarchal structure.

The atollers refer to anybody outside their atoll as "outwaters", and are very suspicious of them. On occasion, however, drifters are permitted entry in to the atolls, but only temporarily, and only if they can show the guards and/or enforcers they have something of value to trade with, such as food, plants, seeds, cigarettes, paper, dirt, and "hydro" (fresh water).

Due to the extreme limitation of living space in the settlements, and also the sparse resources, the atoll elders limit the number of citizens to a steady and constant number, thus avoiding the issue of overpopulation. Since there is no ground to bury the dead in, the dead are placed in a yellow brine pool, whereupon they are "recycled". Occasionally, drifters are asked to mate with the women of the atolls to expand on the shallow gene pool of the inhabitants, in an attempt to avoid inbreeding and also a population bottleneck situation, meaning they are an exogamous society. However, the only time women are permitted to try for a child is when a citizen of the atoll dies, thus keeping the population number steady.

Pirates are known commonly as "smokers" because of the smoke from oil-power machines, such as personal water craft and aeroplanes, which they make use of. They also apply great cultural significance to the smoking of cigarettes, even to the point of giving their children cigarettes, and trade in a brand of cigarettes referred to as "Black Death".

The base of the smokers is the rusted old carcass of an oil tanker, referred to as the Deez, which is revealed to be the Exxon Valdez in a brief shot. Although the tanker no longer has any functional engines, the smokers still have a large supply of crude oil aboard the tanker, and apparently a small oil refinery, as they are able to refine the crude oil into gasoline to power the jet skis and planes they make use of. The Deacon also mentions refining but states that they are running out of "the black stuff" and the "go-juice" rapidly, and that they only have "two lunars" (or months) left of it. The smokers have also hoarded large quantities of firearms, heavy artillery, ammunition, spam, paper, tobacco, cigarettes and whiskey aboard the tanker. The smokers move the tanker by use of dozens of oars that stick out of the barnacle-encrusted hull.

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Overall the feel of the movie is very similar to Mad Max, and several aspects of it, just like in Max Max, remind me of Fallout 3 and its slavers, raiders and overall chaotic mayhem. Since their whole technology is still based on diesel, I think it's a good example of a dystopian dieselpunk story.

Here's the trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oEp382HIisE

What'ya think?

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you may call it dieselpunk, i call it an awful movie
Oh, I totally agree, it's pretty mediocre, but that doesn't mean its not dieselpunk.

I mean, I know its a shame, but there are good and bad movies of any genre, and to not mention them is simply being too picky.
The theme is definitely dieselpunk. It's actually a prime example of piecraftian, or "after the apocalypse" dieselpunk.

The direction may not be good, and it may be a joke among film snobs, but the idea is still cool.
strongly disagree. this was a great movie; the critics lambasted it because it was (at the time) the most expensive movie ever made. the $175 million dollar budget was blown, and it was made for $231 million instead, and it only grossed $264 million worldwide (a mere $32,000,000 profit), which made it a "colossal box-office flop".

there were script problems, which Joss Whedon was called in for three weeks to help fix, and in the end they locked the director out of the editing room, taking the movie down from three hours to two.

make a point of grabbing the director's cut, released in 2008 - it's still a crap edit, without widescreen and with the language and nudity cut for television, but the story is *much* better told.

(sorry, you hit a nerve there - this is one of my favourite movies of all time. definitely dieselpunk.)
Well, I enjoyed the movie from a story perspective, but I thought technically it was lacking some improvements. Of course, there's no point arguing much about this, because how we see and understand movies is an entirely subjective experience, therefore neither of us could be objectively "right".

Anyway, the point i was focusing on is that just because some people don't like it doesn't mean it's not dieselpunk.

I'll be sure to check the director's cut edition though.
Never knew there was a Director's cut, time to go shopping.

I never consider any of the post-apocalyptic movies Dieselpunk. I consider them post-apocalyptic... There was no style except for grunge in the movie. I've never really bought into the classifications of Dieselpunk. Star Wars is more Dieselpunk than Waterworld...

Some of the various types of dieselpuk deal with post apocalyptic themes.
Yeah, but it's gotta be post-apocalyptic with in a Dieselpunk setting, not just using diesel in a post-apocalyptic setting.
Yes I also see no connection between post-apocalyptica and dieselpunk. Sure, in some post-apocalyptic settings they dress like punks, but in others they dress like hippies or new romantics.

Just because it's post-apocalyptic and has some diesel powered vehicles makes something Dieselpunk?  There is absolutely nothing in either Waterworld or Mad Max that's in the least Dieselpunk. As the Home page to the Forum states the genre of Dieselpunk, "blends the aesthetics / pop culture of the 1920s - 1950s with today." Neither of those movies have any of the aesthetics of the Diesel Era.


There's very little Post-Apocalyptic Piecraftian Dieselpunk to choose from. One could say that the animated movie Wizards with its heavy use of Nazi imagery with the mutants and Blackwolf's dream machine is Dieselpunk. One could also say Blade Runner is Post Apocalyptic Dieselpunk because the Earth is dying and all's that's left on Earth are those unfit for travel to the Off-World Colonies yet it also has a heavy dose of Diesel Era aesthetics. 

Here is my comparison.

Waterworld - 20-50 US

Great Depression

Lack of supplies, essentials, and in general a greatly enhanced difficulty in life i.e. Dustbowl


Lack of supplies, essentials, and in general a greatly enhanced difficulty in life i.e. Waterworld


The alienation and condemnation of those not belonging to an established people.  Both present in 20-50 US and Waterworld.

Neutrality and Conflict

A lone power that wishes to remove itself from conflicts involving outside powers.  Again present in the aforementioned US era and Waterworld.  Neutral power pulled into conflict due to aiding another power, ditto.  Conflict ending with the massive use of destruction of the "enemy" power, present in both again.


A previously "defeated" power is again brought forth to fight those that do not agree with their choices.  The Third Rich in WW2 and Deacon makes references to the Exxon Valdez spill (okay this was a Hollywood attack against pollution but it is still comparison.)


I've been told that I sound like a dark Ottensian though I think I like Piecraftian more (I'm a former goth and a 80's child forgive me)  So to me there is a very post apocalyptic flavor to Dieselpunk.  But that is my view on it I am just as right or as wrong as the next guy.  Personally I don't think the fashion has an impact on my choice of if a movie is Dieselpunk or not, though the look of the movie may (Casshern's fashion is fare more cyberpunk but the story and look ,to me, is total Dieselpunk).  Waterworld does not look dieselpunk it is the story I think places it as such.  Now as to Mad Max that would be left to a different discussion entirely this is for Waterworld, until I find the mad max discussion, I'm slowly making my way through the site.

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