Thursday, July 16, 2009
Day 176: Interstella 5555 (2003) - Rank 5/5
Let me just preface this by saying that I was unfamiliar with the two artists featured in this collaboration. Daft Punk is a band that I've heard once or twice, but if asked point blank to name something from their repertoire, I'd be lost. And while I'm familiar with a fair number of prominent innovators in the anime domain, I'd never picked up on the name Leji Matsumoto before. Yet the two working together was an absolutely perfect combination, leading to one of the most mesmerizing and rhythmically energizing films I've seen.
"Interstella 5555" is an album film in the tradition of "Tommy," or "Pink Floyd: The Wall." And just like the two aforementioned titles, "Interstella 5555" was also a film where I found myself realizing that it was probably best intended for those on a whole lot of drugs. A series of kinetic sequences tell the story of a popular alien band that is abducted by a music mogul in Earth, only to be brainwashed, disguised as humans and perform to audiences. It's possibly the most surreal "get rich quick" scheme I've heard of (it also hints, in a subtle way, that humans are incapable of any true talent). A surviving friend of the band takes it upon himself to rescue the band from their manager's evil clutches and...well, the plot alone is absurd and almost incidental when taken by itself.
The music that accompanies the film is certainly not for everyone either. The whole electronica/techno genre is definitely a small subcult of music that's risen in popularity since the mid-eighties. I'll wager that this is entirely due to the parallel ascension of video games in popular culture. Atari, in its later years, developed background scores to their games, but most of the truly memorable musical themes emerged with Nintendo. Members of my generation know that if you're going to play a video game for hours on end, listening to a two minute loop of audio, that it had better be tolerable. Catchy, repetitious, synthesized beats are the essence of techno. Then again, it could all be a coincidence. Perhaps the minimalist scorings of Philip Glass are the true influence. Hey, a Philip Glass score for a video game...yeah...
Watch the Trailer