FILM REVIEW: INTERSTELLA 5555 (FRANCE, 2003) – SPECIAL ACMI SCREENING
Interstella 5555 is the result of a collaboration between french House duo Daft Punk with Anime legend Leiji Matsumoto, and director Kazuhisa Takenouchi. It’s hard to define what makes this eclectic, feature length animated album collaboration so engrossing. Is it the melodramatic narrative with visuals that hit the House beats again and again? The satisfying strobing of pitch perfect images with classic Anime sci-fi tropes? The electric guitar shaped space ship?! Whatever it is, this colourful spectacle is possibly one of the coolest things ever produced and insert: “they don’t make music videos like they used to”.
Back in 2001, Discovery was a groundbreaking album for Daft Punkwith the single One More Time topping the charts internationally. The new wave of French House music had begun and Daft Punk were at the forefront, surfing it. As well as this, anime was experiencing an international revival through Nickelodeon’s Toonami, literally a “tsunami of cartoons” in which Anime such as Pokemon, Sailor Moonand Dragonball Z were the driving force. In this way, Interstella 5555was so ridiculously on point for it’s time and to see such a unique collaboration from essentially the founders of their respective fields is so so geek-out-cool. As a result of this, the film has an almost retrospective, nostalgic quality to it now and for fans of either Anime or House music, this is everything.
With no dialogue and essentially operating as feature length music video, story-wise, Interstella 5555 is not difficult to get your head around. Less about the narrative and more about the visuals and cool sci-fi context, Interstella 5555 tells the story of a talented 4 piece blue-skinned Alien band who are kidnapped from their planet by an evil corporation and taken to Earth to perform under the name of “The Crescendolls” (named after track 5 from the Album Discovery). They have their memories wiped, their appearances changed and are moulded and shaped into a Gold Record winning band. But who will save them? Well, luckily enough Shep, a space pilot from their home planet receives their distress call and comes to their rescue. He is also conveniently a huge fan of the band and has a massive crush on the beautiful lead guitarist (who wouldn’t?).
As kiddy and one dimensional as the narrative sounds, the film opens with Daft Punk’s chart topper One More Time and it is hard not get sucked into this vibrant science fiction world straight away. From the first few beats you find yourself tapping your feet while ogling at Matsumoto’s slender graceful otherworldly blue characters dressed in white ABBA- esque garb. It is good old fashioned, unadulterated fun, with a cartoon cameo from the anime version of Daft Punk themselves. Filled with anime tropes such as evil overlord, cute girl and token funny guy, Interstella 5555 celebrates stereotypes and performs to expectation. You know who to hate and know who to love and because of this simple story line, there is so much space to explore this rich galaxy filled with fantastic visuals and dream-like scapes that marry “oh so well” with Daft Punk’s fast paced futuristic sound.
Daft Punk’s album Discovery was such a wonderful success back in 2001 and their sound has not aged. After winning Album of the Yearin 2014 for Random Access Memories, Daft Punk is still relevant and continues to evolve and shape how we interact with House music. Interstella 5555 shows the scope and potential of creative collaboration and challenges the popular perception of what a music video, band or a film should be. Would watch again.
Review Score: FOUR AND A HALF STARS (OUT OF FIVE)