Straddling the line between a music video and a feature film, Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem was conceived as a visual representation of the 2001 album Discovery by French house duo Daft Punk. The 67 minutes comprise a sequence of animated segments spliced together to create this movie which premiered at the Cannes Film Festival on May 18, 2003. Each related episode is underscored by one of the songs off of that album to tell a complete story. The musical concerns an intergalactic rock band who are abducted from their home planet by the evil Earl de Darkwood. He seeks to manipulate the aliens with mind control so that he can duplicate their success as a band on Earth. By this method he plans to become rich off their talent on a global scale. Japanese animation was designed with the collaboration of Toei Animation under the supervision of Leiji Matsumoto and director Kazuhisa Takenouchi. Matsumoto is a Manga legend probably best known for his work on the science fiction cartoon series Space Battleship Yamato which was dubbed in English for North American and Australian audiences and called Star Blazers in 1979.
Interstella 5555 is a brilliant amalgamation of animated technique and house music. The picture’s allure will likely depend on your enjoyment of at least one of those things but not necessarily both. The film utilizes Daft Punk’s music in a thoroughly entertaining way that will make fans of people who don’t normally enjoy their type of electronic music. But it also gives the illustrative style a vibrancy for people who often find the art form emotionally cold. The latter has described my experiences. Love the band, but don’t particularly care for anime. However I loved this. The plot was filled with an energizing spirit and artistic flair. Observe the part where against the back drop of the song “Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger” the blue skinned aliens are transformed into human musicians that can now pass for a rock band on the planet Earth. The music invigorates the visuals and gives them an excitement I rarely feel while watching anime.
Interstella 5555 is a rewarding fantasy that is delightfully imaginative. The story is a dialogue-free production. Relying simply on observable cues and music with minimal sound effects can somewhat limit its appeal to the casual viewer. Although it lacks the adult themes typical of anime (it is unrated), I suspect the fuzzy narrative will be a bit esoteric for young viewers. It’s hard for an adult to understand what is happening at times. Another quibble is that the 4:3 aspect ratio is better suited to an antiquated TV screen than the widescreen standard of today. Yet as a completely wordless experience, the hypnotic visual complement to Daft Punk’s music is a rather original concept. I really enjoyed the 70s disco aesthetic. It’s dated in a joyfully modern approach.