14/08/2013

Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem (2003)

Film: Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem
Alternate title(s): Interstella 5555, Discovery, Interstella 4-5
Release: 2003, Video
Starring: Romanthony, Thomas Bangalter
Directed by: Kazuhisa Takenouchi
IMDB page: Link opens in a new window
Description: The vastly popular alien band of a far off world is kidnapped, brainwashed and used as star material on planet Earth by an evil producer.

Hans' thoughts:

The band Daft Punk is known by many. It's a french band that's made more than a few hits and are listened to even by people who wouldn't normally consider themselves fans of that particular genre. The genre being  "synthpop-inspired house", but that's according to Wikipedia. I don't know much about music honestly. In any case, the band is incredibly popular and in 2001 they released their perhaps most celebrated album: Discovery. It has mega hits such as "One More Time", "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" and "Aerodynamic" among others. The band was approached by japanese animation legend Leiji Matsumoto. A man with a very easily recognizable style who's created such hits as Galaxy Express 999 and Captain Harlock. If you're not into japanese animation just trust me on this: He's a pretty big deal. So when he showed up and asked to make animated music videos for Daft Punks' hit album, how could they turn him down? What followed was some of the most colorful music videos I've seen. 

In 2003 (we're getting close to the point now) they then decided to cut together the music videos into one big animation epos of a movie: Interstella 5555!  Now, making a movie based on an album is nothing new, a well-known other example is Pink Floyd's The Wall. But whereas The Wall is a rock album, containing actual coherent dialogue does a lot of the job for the viewers. The meat of The Wall is the analysation of the lyrics but Daft Punk is far from rock and what little lyrics the music actually contains is normally non-contextual and more put in for the sake of making it sound good. It's not actively shoving a message on you but instead goes for sheer enjoyment factor. So how do you make a movie out of that?

Surprisingly, the movie not only works well as a 60 minute music video but manages to tell an easy to follow story. Remember: The entire soundtrack with the exception of 2 or 3 sound effects is a clean rip from the actual album Discovery. The animation, as I mentioned, is beautiful. It has to be really, since it has to convey a complete story without any sort of dialogue. It's also a lot more active than japanese animation made for TV, as this movie is based a lot on rythm. While the movie may have a few plotholes, it still has a high quality and it could probably have been a beautifully done movie in it's own right. The Daft Punk music is as great as one would expect, as I stated, Discovery is perhaps the bands most celebrated album and for good reason: Even people who've never heard of the band or the genre it comes from will probably recognize songs such as Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger. The lack of heavy dialogue and simple storyline also makes the movie pretty much applicable to anyone who likes good music.

This movie is a witness account of just how strong a message the correct mixture of denotation can give the viewer. Sound and animation flows together so strong and you'll have to guess whether Matsumoto saw the entire events of the movie unfold in his mind as he listened to the album. Viewing the movie now, it's hard to believe that the album wasn't made with this movie in mind. But it is, and that just speaks for the power of the visual forces at work.

If you're a fan of animation, a fan of music, or a fan of none of the above, you might find enjoyment in this movie. While not setting a milestone for anything, I cannot argue that it just uses what it has in such a good way. Like a man baking a cake and getting the ingredients perfect. Others has used the same ingredients for fantastic results before, but this particular cake is one you mustn't miss.
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