Interstella 5555 is an unusual collaboration. The visuals are provided by one of Japanís most famous animators, Leiji Matsumoto, while the soundtrack consists entirely of the 2001 album Discovery by the French dance-pop band Daft Punk. So depending on your view, it is either a dance album with visuals or a feature-length music video. The collaboration may sound like an unlikely pairing, but the psychedelic visuals and funky electro-pop soundtrack complement each other perfectly.
The rather surreal plot revolves around an alien pop band, The Crescendolls, who come from a planet in the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem. The band is kidnapped by an evil record company boss (his shock of white hair a reference to pop svengali Pete Waterman?), who takes them to earth where he brainwashes them and moulds them into the worldís biggest manufactured pop group. The Crescendolls are soon playing sold-out stadium gigs around the world and are adored by millions, but it is all just an illusion, highlighting the superficiality of such an existence. In the meantime, the boyfriend of the bandís lead singer is heading to earth in a guitar-shaped space ship to rescue the band from their musical slavery and return them to their home planet.
The whole look of the film is sort of retro-futuristic. It uses cutting-edge Japanese animation (commonly known as anime or manga) fused with the kitschness and campness of Barbarella. Perhaps itís the collaboration of French and Japanese creative minds that gives the film itís edgy, unusual look.
Interstella 5555 is a bold mix of science fiction, musical and love story told entirely through the animated visuals and Daft Punkís music; there is no dialogue. The film also manages to satirise the fickle world of manufactured pop music. It has plenty to say about the way music is turning from an art form into just another commercial product, and its message is more relevant than ever.
Despite its commentary on the current state of pop music, the main problem with Interstella 5555 is that it cannot really engage viewers emotionally. It's difficult enough to identify with animated, non-human characters when they do have dialogue, but when they donít even speak can the film really be anything more than pretty pictures? So while fans of Daft Punk and Japanese animation will be delighted, for most of us this adds up to little more than trippy background visuals for parties.
(Released by Soda Pictures Ltd.; not rated by MPAA.)