Daft Punk & Leiji Matsumoto’s Interstella 5555: The 5tory of The 5ecret 5tar System

An animated science-fiction musical without dialogue, "Interstella 5555" pairs the music of Gallic electronic duo Daft Punk with the intergalactic manga designs of Leiji Matsumoto. Musicians from another galaxy are abducted and made to become the most popular supergroup on earth. The film's visuals and soundtrack are a tight fit.

An animated science-fiction musical without dialogue, “Interstella 5555” pairs the music of Gallic electronic duo Daft Punk with the intergalactic manga designs of Leiji Matsumoto. The elementary story seems purely a preteen confection: Musicians from another galaxy are abducted by a sinister corporation chief and reprogrammed to become the most popular supergroup on earth. But the film’s psychedelic visuals and pulsing soundtrack are a tight fit, and the triple demographic of Japanimation aficionados, sci-fi geeks and, most of all, dance-music fans should make this medium-length feature a steady seller to MTV-style youth webs and specialty video/DVD labels.

Conceived and written by Daft Punk members Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, with Cedric Hervet, the film was designed by Matsumoto, working with regular collaborator Shinji Shimizu as animation producer and Kazsuhisha Takenouchi (whose credits include kid-cult comic “Sailor Moon”) as director.

Credited with having reinvented the ’80s electronica sound and created their own hybrid of disco, funk, techno and house music, Daft Punk’s input is evident in certain aspects of the simple good-vs.-evil scenario like the music mogul’s manufacturing of prefab pop. This is achieved by transferring the musicians’ memories onto disks, stripping them of their jeweled power headbands and giving them makeovers that leave them like soulless Stepford wives.

Redubbed the Crescendolls, they sweep the globe, but with some help, eventually regain their identity and powers, exposing the manager’s plot to conquer the universe with a stable of reprogrammed music stars.

The glitzy music-biz world of arena pop performances, limos and award shows is well suited to the ’70s-style visual aesthetic of candy colors and unidimensional characters. This is blended with a darker Fritz Lang-influenced vision of masked space marauders, malevolent business empires and soul-sapping machines, as well as vivid starscapes and spaceships.

The film is not a musical in the sense that the songs — including existing Daft Punk hits like “One More Time” — do little to advance the narrative and lyrics generally bear no relation to the action. But the visuals fully relate the story without the need for dialogue and the soundtrack provides a driving complement.

Daft Punk & Leiji Matsumoto's Interstella 5555: The 5tory of The 5ecret 5tar System

Directors Fortnight / Japan-France

Production: A Virgin Music A Member of the EMI Group presentation of a Daft Life Ltd. production in association with Toei Animation. (International sales: Wild Bunch, Paris.) Produced by Thomas Bangalter, Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo. Executive producer, Emmanuel de Buretel. Co-producer, Cedric Hervet. Animation producer, Shinji Shimizu. Directed by Kazuhisha Takenouchi. Chief animation director, Katsumi Tamegai. Animation director, Keiichi Ichikawa. Screenplay, Thomas Bangalter, Cedric Hervet, Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo.

Crew: Camera (color), Fumio Hirokawa, Haruhiko Ishikawa; editors, Shigeru Nishiyama, Olivier Gajan; music, Daft Punk, featuring Romanthony, Todd Edwards, DJ Sneak; art director, Hiroshi Katou; sound (Dolby Digital), Cyril Holtz; designs/visual supervisor, Leiji Matsumoto; character designer, Masaki Sato; color designs, Kunio Tsujita; special effects, Nobuhiro Shimokawa. Reviewed at Cannes Film Festival (Directors Fortnight - Special Screening), May 20, 2003. Running time: 67 MIN.

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