Cinema for Steampunks: Kate & Leopold

Wait, You’re Saying This Movie is STEAMPUNK?! But, but, but…!

I may be new around the Journal, but I’ve been doing movie reviews going on four years now. I thought I’d include a little disclaimer for this one. As a reviewer and a fan of everything Steampunk, I cast a very wide net. I don’t see my job as limiting what goes into the Steampunk canon. I’m here to seek out and share those things that will appeal to fans – even if they never would have thought of it themselves.


Kate & Leopold, a sweet rom-com starring one my perennial favorites, Meg Ryan, and the delicious Hugh Jackman, is one of those films. I admit it, after the opening credits there isn’t another gear in the whole thing. But from a philosophical standpoint, I think there are a lot of Steampunks who would enjoy curling up with this flick and their sweetheart this Valentine’s Day.

Kate is a workaholic who hasn’t left Manhattan in a decade, but could sell you the shirt off your own back. Leopold is an aristocrat from 1876 who has to marry money to keep the family afloat. What do they have in common? They don’t believe they’ll ever find love.

Steampunk film? Kate & Leopold

Luckily for Kate, a time traveler named Stuart (Liev Shrieber) accidentally brings Leopold back to the present. (See? Time traveling from the 19th century. Sounds pretty Steampunk to me!) Stuart and Kate are neighbors, and when Stuart is hit by a car, Kate and her brother Charlie (Brekin Meyer) take pity on his houseguest. At first, they think Leopold is just an actor trying to get into a role. But his total lack of guile and old world charm start to convince Kate that his story of being a nobleman from the past is true. Unfortunately, when it comes down to picking her heart over her head, Kate has a lot to learn. And time is running out…

What I thought of Kate & Leopold

Choosing the romantic over the mundane, the elegant and refined over the crude and ordinary stuff of life – this is at the core of Steampunk. By simply spending a day taking life as it comes, Leopold helps to open Kate’s eyes to living at a slower pace. In a world lining up to sell out to the highest bidder, he values integrity and honor almost to a fault. The disconnect between the world of Victorian England and our modern-day lives is both hilarious and eye-opening. Was the ending a bit predictable? Sure. But its a romance so they always end happily, and that doesn’t mean I wasn’t rooting for Kate & Leopold the whole time.

As an added bonus, the Leopold in question is based on a real historical figure. Prince Leopold Mountbatten, Duke of Albany, was the eighth child of Queen Victoria. In real life, Leopold viewed marriage as a way to escape his mother. Vicky was apparently over-protective due to his being afflicted by hemophilia. In the movie, he’s credited with inventing the elevator and when he’s away from 1876 all elevators disappear. This was just a funny notion invented by the screenwriters, but is one of those time travel paradoxes we all know and love. Leopold did not come to America in 1876, and he certainly didn’t marry Meg Ryan, so there’s a little more “punk” for your steam 😉

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