Heather does Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem

“One more time!”

The Scoop: 2003 NR, Directed by Kazuhisa Takenochi and starring…erm…Daft Punk?

Tagline: No tagline.

Summary Capsule: Daft Punk, together with an anime legend, create a visionary album/movie combo that proves they deserved recognition long before Kanye West started sampling them.

Heather’s Rating: A space love story smurfier than Avatar.

Heather’s Review: I begin with the most useful thing I could say to anyone who has not seen this movie: If you don’t like Daft Punk you will not like Insterstella 5555.

In fact, your level of like/dislike of said French band will directly correlate to your feelings for this anime. Interstella 5555, an idea first brainstormed while Daft Punk was recording their Discovery album, is basically a one-hour-and-some-change music video.

That’s what’s made it so hard for me to review since I’ve been on the staff here. The story is extremely simplistic and kind of silly, there is absolutely no dialogue and minimal sound effects.

All of that aside, Interstella 5555 is a fabulously enjoyable experience for Daft Punk fans (of which I most definitely am one).  As mentioned earlier, Daft Punk had this idea when they were first recording Discovery, and ended up being able to team up with their childhood hero, the famed anime artist Leiji Matsumoto, for the project (which should tell you that the visuals are great). Two years later the world was treated to the fun, animated answer to sitting around playing Dark Side Of The Moon in tandem with Wizard of Oz.

I bought the album a few years back and I always saw it as the best in my collection to listen to all the way through. Once I heard that there was a whole movie that used nothing but that album as the soundtrack it made perfect sense. There isn’t a bad track on here, and even my least favorite (“Superheroes”, easy) was put to good use in the movie.

The movie opens with the album’s first track “One More Time”, being played by an interstellar blue-skinned pop band to a sold-out crowd. Moments later a spaceship ominously hovers above the planet and unleashes a Sesame Street version of the Ring Wraiths with orders to kidnap the band. The band is overwhelmed and space-shipped to Earth, where Michael Jackson’s secret laboratory is used to transform the blue-skinned pop stars to the much more acceptable skin tones of Caucasians (and of course the Token Befro’d Black Guy).

Their memories wiped and saved on disks, the group (now named Crescendolls) is fitted with sunglasses that have the double effect of style and subservience. They go through the motions of playing and end up making their captor a nice little pile of money and awards to roll around on. Eventually they are saved by the power of love and rock and roll and (almost) everyone lives happily ever after.

To be fair, there’s no way to sell that to you as a good movie, but it is. It’s nothing too substantial, though it does have an underlying message of acceptance, love and sacrifice. A couple of the scenes got emotional enough to get a sniffle from me. It just is what it is, and if the idea appeals to you then I promise you won’t be disappointed.

Marvelous! Fantastic! Mind-blowing! Now if only they were whiter and more despair-y...

Intermission!

  • The names of the characters can be found in the extras on the DVD. The band member’s names are Octave (keyboard), Stella (the female bass player), Arpegius (the blond guitar player), and Baryl (drums). The hero that comes to the band’s rescue is Shep. The villain is named the Earl of Darkwood.
  • Earl of Darkwood’s spaceship looks exactly like the ship from Flight of the Navigator.
  • Leiji Matsumoto is famous for his space opera anime, including Galaxy 999 which is the first anime film I ever saw.
  • I’m pretty sure the only time sound effects that aren’t on the album are heard in the movie is during the “High Life”, “Voyager”, and “Short Circuit” scenes.
  • At one point during the film a football match is shown on a monitor, the teams playing are Japan and France. The two collaborators, Daft Punk and Leiji Matsumoto, are French and Japanese respectively.
  • Daft Punk make a cameo appearance during the High Life scene.
Groovy Quotes

Repeated music lyrics, ala Daft Punk

If You Like This Movie, Try These:
  • Pink Floyd’s The Wall
  • Purple Rain
  • Galaxy Express 999
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11 Comments

  1. I LOVE daft punk! At work on fridays you can hear my daft punk pandora station down the hall. and i don’t mind me some 90 minute crazy ass animated music videos starring acceptance and happiness. and some of the cliches and jokes sound hilarious! netflix, here I come!

  2. I’ve never heard of Daft Punk. Will this likely affect my opinion of the film?

    I am however familiar with the works of Leiji Matsumoto, particularly his fondness for hideously deformed midgets as well as all those chicks with Rapunzel hair.

    • I wonder if you meant this as a serious question, as a Youtube search for the band’s music would answer that question more quickly and efficiently than I can here.

      From that and what seem to be feelings of dislike for the animation style, I’d say you’ve answered your own question with a resounding no.

      • I’m on dial-up (go ahead and laugh, everyone else does), so a YouTube search isn’t feasable.

        And though I can see how my remarks could be construed as negative, I mostly like the works of Matsumoto which I’ve encountered. Though I am of two minds regarding Gun Frontier and do find the deformed midgets a bit off-putting.

    • Discovery is to me their most easy-to-listen-to album. It flows really well, and nothing on here is bad (except maybe Superheroes…it just annoys me), so you should be able to sit through it without finding it an assault on your ears.

      As for the style, I think it looked really good. A couple of characters could have looked better, but otherwise I thought it was well done.

  3. (Why can’t we reply more than once to someone on this comment thingy?)

    Sitting Duck- I would never laugh. Every time I go home to central Kentucky I have to use dial-up and it’s a miserable existence. Youtube is certainly feasible as long as you have something to do like having a bite or going to work while you wait for the video to load. In the end, Daft Punk is a house/techno band, so if you hate that kind of music I’m not sure you’d be able to watch this. Daft Punk is pretty accessible to the masses, though, so if you at least have a tolerance for “firm young melodies, kicking tunes, thumping bass” then I say go for it.

    • Recently Mike Toole of Anime News Network did a piece on Matsumoto.

      More Matsumoto can be found at Crunchyroll, where they have streaming video of Galaxy Express 999 and Captain Harlock. If the glories of Seventies animation makes your eyes bleed, they also have the more recent Ozma. Despite the name, it has nothing to do with the works of L. Frank Baum and is really more of a Harlockification of Dune. Though a Matsumoto reimagining of Oz would be pretty awesome.

  4. Pingback: Louise does Flash Gordon « Mutant Reviewers From Hell

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