If you’ve ever stumbled across any of Daft Punk’s music videos from their 2001 release Discovery and felt as though they were simply pieces in a larger story, you’d be right. The larger story is in fact a full-length feature anime film named Interstella 5555, written in part by Leiji Matsumoto, director of the legendary anime series Space Battleship Yamato, and the French House duo themselves.
Often this type of a project tends to hurt the original work rather than add to it. In this case, Daft Punk definitely hit the mark. Interstella 5555 is a sci-fi adventure featuring four alien band members that are kidnapped and taken from their home planet and eventually sent to Earth only to become musical slaves. It basically serves as a visual representation of the album, accompanying each track in Discovery – yes, every scene in the film starts and finishes with a cut from the album, the whole way through. But remarkably, the film features zero dialogue, narration or even annotations. Save for a few sound effects here and there, we are left with visuals and music to piece the story together. And although the film and the album aren’t technically groundbreaking, both provide an experience that is rich, and at times, immersive.
I personally think every pressing of Discovery should feature a digital copy of Interstella 5555, because without each other, they fall flat. Watching the film without audio practically removes most of its appeal, and listening to Discovery without seeing the film is definitely an incomplete experience. Beyond the first four, well-known hits on the album, the rest of Discovery moves through and invokes various themes and emotions while rolling out space-age, synth-heavy melodies that are fully realised in the film, but are tough to get a feel for without.
Anyone unfamiliar with this film, or Daft Punk in general, should definitely give Interstella 5555 and Discovery a try. It’s definitely their most coherent, conceptualised work (although their recent release, Random Access Memories, isn’t far off) and is a treat to watch & listen.
B+ (for both)