Environmental progressive creative aesthetic and genre.
Solarpunk in film.
“A movement built on visual art and speculative fiction that hopes to build a more sustainable world” (Steinkopf-Frank, 2021). Steinkopf-Frank (2021) emphasise that “solarpunk imagines a radically different societal and economic structure. A futuristic farm where robots pick oranges off trees and floating wind turbines generate energy. A multigenerational family gathers around for a meal outside to enjoy their locally harvested bounty”. Solarpunk reimagines what futuristic worlds might look like and how processes work within these worlds.
Paris 2050 – Vincent Callebaut Architectures, 2021. Illustration. (Praise, 2021)
“Solarpunk took inspiration from the Cyberpunk and Steampunk aesthetics that came before it” (Steinkopf-Frank, 2021). Praise (2021) explains “When one thinks of Cyberpunk, the image that comes to mind is a dystopic concrete jungle with dark and bleak colouring, whereas steampunk has a reputation for Victorian styles and visible machinery. So then, what makes up Solarpunk aesthetic? Well, picture a green future, where plants grow freely, coexisting with the human architecture of natural colours and stained-glass windows. It is a society that isn’t trying to tear down what we have already built – but rather incorporates sustainability into the world we already have”.
Ism and Leyre (2020) state that “solarpunk serves as an umbrella term for an aesthetic and ideology that emphasizes biomimicry, greenery, and mind-blowing architectonic structures built to enable sustainability and self-sufficiency. It’s high-tech art nouveau if you will. It’s not the hippie dream of people spending their brief lifetime on laborious agriculture, it’s agritech and automated farming. It’s not back to nature, but forward into an upgraded, engineered take on the natural”.
Wenstrom (2021) expressed that “the solarpunk genre is often described as inspired by Art Nouveau, Victorian, and Afrofuturist motifs. Illustrations of solarpunk landscapes often look hypermodern, light, airy, and colourful, but can also be rich in elegant detail and covered in green. Along with this visual style, the spirit of solarpunk is one of craftsmanship, egalitarianism, and optimism where technology can be put to work to solve our greatest problems”.
According to Wenstorm (2021) the novel of Dune and the emphasis placed on harmony with nature reverberate with solarpunk aesthetics, where Arrakis becomes a lush garden planet within later books. Therefore the film Dune, could be interpret as the first step of the solarpunk genre. Solarpunk production design aesthetic within fantasy films can thus communicate sustainable practices and create environmental awareness. Using this visual style audiences are exposed to how the world can be or look like in the future, depicts sustainable practices and hopefully evoke eco-conscious action and biocentric lifestyles because of what audiences have experienced on screen.
Fox (2021) emphasises that her recent science fiction production was about envisioning an optimistic, realistic future; they made use of cross-cultural and technological research to show people what a “better and greener” future could look like. She provides the concept of Solarpunk as an example of how they accomplish this greener aesthetic; “if you look at green buildings around the world, and how those are incorporating and working with or often directly based on traditional local architecture”, creating a film world using traditional, sustainable and environmentally friendly solutions together with organic and natural materials, forms and design to suggest how a “better” world can be achieved. These concepts of both Solarpunk and zoomorphism could create new forms of eco-cinema.
Example of solarpunk in film
Dune as a solarpunk aesthetic:
Some production design elements within the film could suggest that Dune is progressing into the solarpunk genre, emphasising the environmental agenda created within the film. Wenstorm (2021) express that the literary roots of Dune and the emphasis placed on harmony with nature which reverberate with solarpunk aesthetics, where Arrakis becomes a lush garden planet within later books. Therefore the film version of Dune could potentially be the first step in progressing into a solarpunk genre. With the eco-conscious development of the Fremen and their eco-conscious creations, including, the Stillsuits, the Sand Compactor and the Paracompass. These solarpunk solutions created within the production design of Dune can further communicate sustainable solutions and practices and can assist in creating effective environmental awareness that will hopefully evoke eco-conscious mindsets and behaviours.
The stillsuit, the water recycling wardrobe of the Freman, is a critical element for survival in Arrakis. The stillsuits uses technology to preserve water while promoting conservation.
The sand compactor
A sand compactor is a device that uses static electricity to agglomerate sand and gives it structural integrity, which allows the Freman to tunnel out of drifts and allows them to hide under the sand in combat for a sneak approach.
A paracompass is a compass, created by the Freman, that uses a local magnetic anomaly to determine direction when no relevant charts are available and the planet's magnetic field is unstable or obscured by severe magnetic storms.
Dune (2021a) Directed by D. Villeneuve [DVD] Burbank, CA: Legendary Pictures.
Dune (2021b) Dune Movie Official Website, Dune Movie | Official Website. Available at: https://www.dunemovie.net/ (Accessed: 3 April 2022). Ism, C. and Leyre, J. (2020) ‘Solarpunk Is Growing a Gorgeous New World in the Cracks of the Old One’, Singularity Hub, 6 September. Available at: https://singularityhub.com/2020/09/06/solarpunk-is-growing-a-gorgeous-new-world-in-the-cracks-of-the-old-one/ (Accessed: 24 March 2022).
Praise, Z. (2021) The Definitive Guide To SOLARPUNK: Fashion, Movies, Aesthetic & More, IMPOSE. Available at: https://imposemagazine.com/bytes/cinema/the-definitive-guide-to-solarpunk-fashion-movies-aesthetic-more (Accessed: 24 March 2022).
Steinkopf-Frank, H. (2021) ‘Solarpunk Is Not About Pretty Aesthetics. It’s About the End of Capitalism’, Vice, 2 September. Available at: https://www.vice.com/en/article/wx5aym/solarpunk-is-not-about-pretty-aesthetics-its-about-the-end-of-capitalism (Accessed: 24 March 2022).
Wenstrom, E. (2021) ‘An Introduction to The Solarpunk Genre’, BOOK RIOT, 23 March. Available at: https://bookriot.com/solarpunk-genre/ (Accessed: 8 April 2022).
All Dune imagery used, are taken from the Dune film and is the property of Legendary Entertainment.
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