A Wizarding World Full of ‘Punk

The Harry Potter franchise is brimming with steam- and dieselpunk elements.

You have to make an effort to escape Harry Potter. Decades after the publication of the first book, the setting is still going strong. And, like many big franchises, it is riddled with steam- and dieselpunk elements. Which is what we are going to talk about today.

Alison Sudol
Alison Sudol as Queenie Goldstein

The prequel series, Fantastic Beasts, takes place in the 1920s, so it comes as no surprise that the aesthetic of the movie breathes dieselpunk.

From the Art Nouveau brooms in La Place Cachée to the costumes (most are not historically accurate, but many are clearly inspired by the time) to the beautifully designed French Ministry of Magic in Paris. Even some of the wands have Art Deco vibes. Queenie Goldstein is the quintessential flapper girl. Both Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016) and the sequel, The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018, our review here), ooze subtle dieselpunk vibes all over, and I for one am curious to see what more we’ll get in the three movies yet to come!

The lion’s share of the Wizarding World is, of course, still the original Harry Potter part of the franchise. With seven books, eight movies, a stage play, countless follow-up publications and several video games, it is positively brimming with ‘punk elements.

Start with the clockpunk owl post. Wax seals and aviary delivery of the mail, next to the archaic use of ink and quill, and the fact that every camera is analog and very antique-looking (for film has to be developed in a special potion to receive moving images in photos), are just the beginning.

Dumbledore’s office and study, as well as the Gryffindor common room, are areas steam- and dieselpunk aficionados would love to have in their homes. (Where can I sign up for a pet phoenix to go with it?) The Hogwarts trunk is basically a piece of old-time luggage that is much sought-after by fans of the genre. The Hogwarts Express is a traditional steam train. Many of the brooms have a distinctive steampunk feel with elements of brass, gold and copper. The quidditch armor is reminiscent of the leather armor so many steampunks are fond of.

There are flying keys, golden snitches, vintage style uniforms, time turners, omnioculars, flying vintage motorcycles… Entire characters, like Mad-Eye Moony (even his broom is steampunk), are steampunk-inspired. Not a single movie goes by without elements of either steam- or dieselpunk in some way, sometimes small, sometimes obvious. Admittedly it is a little less so in the later movies than the earlier ones, as they spend less time at Hogwarts.

A franchise this big means a lot of merchandise and a wealth of tutorials online, freely accessible, for those who want to make their own kit. This means that The Wizarding World is a franchise that lends itself to bounding and ‘punk fandom outfits, opening up a wide spectrum of possibilities for the so-inclined, ranging from subtle ‘punk outfits that only fans will be able to recognize to full-on convention and event looks to Potter-inspired daily wear.

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Not to mention the flying Ford Anglia. My family had an Anglia that occasionally produced steam. It wasn’t supposed to but…At least it never got whomped by a willow.

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