|Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem|
Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem (インターステラ5555 Intāsutera Fō Faibu) is a feature-length Japanese animated musical film originally released on December 1, 2003. The film is the visual realization of Discovery, an album by Daft Punk. Each track from the album has been animated as an episode in the story of the abduction and rescue of an interstellar pop band. The film was produced by Daft Punk, Cédric Hervet and Emmanuel de Buretel along with Toei Animation, under the supervision of Leiji Matsumoto. The film has no dialogue and instead uses minimal sound effects as well as music and lyrics straight from the Discovery album.
Plot[edit | edit source]
The story begins in a parallel galaxy where four blue-skinned music stars on an alien planet are performing the song "One More Time" to a similarly blue-skinned audience. At the end of the song, a team of humanoid troops appear and subdue everyone with gas, including the band on stage. The four musicians are kidnapped and beamed aboard a large space vessel ("Aerodynamic").
A distress signal is sent out to a nearby ship piloted by Shep. When Shep is first seen he is daydreaming of Stella, bass player of the kidnapped band. He dozes off and is visited by an apparition of Stella. Just as the couple are about to kiss, the alert finally reaches him and brings Shep out of his dream. After receiving the call, Shep is determined to save the band and rockets off in pursuit of the kidnappers. During a chase sequence, Shep and the kidnapping vessel travel through a wormhole and eventually land on Earth. The kidnappers quickly bring the band off as an unidentified leader watches. Shep and his ship crash land into a dense forest ("Digital Love").
Within a large underground facility, the band goes through an entirely automated process while unconscious. Each member of the group is stripped of their alien garb and have their memories rewritten. Their old memories are archived and stored on disks. The band is then skin-painted and hair-dyed to resemble humans. They are redressed and implanted with mind control devices ("Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger"). The band's captor (Earl de Darkwood), in the guise of a manager, takes them to a recording studio where a record deal is made. The band, now named The Crescendolls, produce their hit single "One More Time". The names of the protagonists are revealed: Stella (bass guitarist), Arpegius (guitarist), Baryl (drummer) and Octave (keyboardist / vocalist). In no time, The Crescendolls become a worldwide phenomenon ("Crescendolls"). The fame has its disadvantages as the exhausted members of the band are forced to sign large amounts of marketing material. While this is happening, Shep walks the streets at night discovering what has been done to his heroes ("Nightvision").
The band later appears in concert at a crowded arena. Earl de Darkwood appears on the stage and directs an orchestra. Shep rockets into the stadium and fires a device at Arpegius, Baryl and Octave, freeing all but Stella from the effects of their mind control devices. Leaving Stella behind, Shep and the others hijack a step van and attempt an escape. During a chase, bodyguards catch up to the van in two black cars and mortally wound Shep before crashing into a semi-truck ("Superheroes").
Still under the control of the Earl, Stella is later taken to a "Gold Record Award" awards ceremony, for which The Crescendolls have received a nomination. When the Golden Record is awarded to The Crescendolls, Baryl uses the anti-mind control device on Stella and beckons her to follow. The two enter a waiting taxicab, driven by Octave, and escape ("High Life").
The reunited band gathers around a dying Shep, who raises his injured arm out to Stella. She takes it and experiences a dream sequence similar to the one Shep experienced earlier. Shep then reveals The Crescendolls' true identity. The band expresses their gratitude as Shep dies ("Something About Us"). The group later find a giant tree and bury Shep at its base. At night, the band watches Shep's spiritual essence emerging from the ground and rocketing into the stars. While driving away, the band screeches to a halt in front of a road sign to Darkwood Manor. This is the same place that appeared on a card Stella found earlier. The foursome agrees to check it out and drive off ("Voyager").
The Crescendolls eventually reach a great castle-like mansion. They happen upon a journal titled Veridis Quo that describes in great detail exactly what Earl de Darkwood's origins and plans are. In brief the book reveals that musical artists associated with the Earl on Earth are actually aliens used by him to make music worthy of Gold Records. The Earl would then unleash a tremendous power when 5,555 records have been claimed, which would allow him to rule the universe. The Crescendolls themselves were awarded Gold Record number 5555. The band find themselves surrounded by the Earl's guards, who escort them to the chamber of an underground chasm. Earl grabs Stella and thrusts her into a massive device lined with his Gold Records. The remaining members free themselves from the guards. Arpegius rushes to Earl before he releases the power and causes the record to fall from his hands to the abyss. Then Earl tries to get the disk, but he himself falls in, to an assumed death. Arpegius rescues Stella from the device and the band flees from the castle, which begins to self-destruct ("Veridis Quo").
Escaping the explosion and now aware of the technology that the Earl of Darkwood had used on them, the band travels back to the Record company. Octave breaks in and finds the master recording of "One More Time", under which the band's archived memory disks are found. Octave attempts to leave with the disks but is surrounded by guards. He reaches into his jacket to retrieve a page of Veridis Quo, but one of the guards uses a stun gun on him. Due to the electric shock, Octave falls to the ground and turns into his original blue skin color, much to the surprise of the witnesses. The page is taken from Octave's hand and reveals what the disks are ("Short Circuit").
Construction crews unearth Shep's ship and the police investigate the Record company. Police also search every part of Darkwood Manor. A news report is later shown and depicts scenes of an operation to send The Crescendolls back home. The report also explains the situation and even shows that The Crescendolls were not the only group to have this happen to them. Octave wakes up and is greeted by the band, who are back to normal. As the band prepares to leave, people wave goodbye to the band from all over the world ("Face to Face").
When the band's ship is heading to the wormhole, the Earl's essence suddenly appears, engulfing and attacking the ship. Shep's essence flies up to the Earl and defeats him, which frees the band. They successfully return to their home planet and are welcomed by its inhabitants. The band is again on the stage and the audience is dancing to their song. Everyone on Earth is also seen dancing to the performance shown on television screens. Outside the stadium, a heroic statue of Shep is unveiled. The camera pans out of the celebration. The viewer experiences a zoom out from the alien planet, to a large star cluster, and then stops with a record player. This reveals a vinyl record playing the Daft Punk album Discovery. A sleeping little boy is shown surrounded by The Crescendolls and Daft Punk toys and other memorabilia. The needle is moved off the record and the music stops ("Too Long"). As the ending credits roll, a remixed version of "Aerodynamic" plays.
Characters[edit | edit source]
- Stella: Bass player and only female of the band, also Shep's love interest.
- Arpegius: Guitarist of the band.
- Baryl: Drummer of the band.
- Octave: Lead singer and keyboardist of the band.
- Shep: A ship pilot who goes to rescue the band after being inadvertently contacted by Stella, at the cost of his life. He continues to help Interstella in literal spirit and is celebrated as a hero.
- Manager: A subordinate of Darkwood, serving as the manager of the Crescendolls.
- Earl de Darkwood: Owner of the record company and the one who abducted the band to achieve domination of the universe. He has already achieved a majority of his plan to collect 5555 golden records using aliens from across the cosmos, abducting them like he did the Crescendolls.
- Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo (cameo)
- Thomas Bangalter (cameo)
Production[edit | edit source]
As detailed in the insert included with the 2003 DVD, the idea for Interstella 5555 formed during the early Discovery recording sessions. Daft Punk's concept for the film involved the merging of science fiction with entertainment industry culture and was further developed with their collaborator Cédric Hervet. All three brought the album and the completed story to Tokyo in the hope of creating the film with their childhood hero, Leiji Matsumoto. After Matsumoto joined the team as visual supervisor, Shinji Shimizu had been contacted to produce the animation and Kazuhisa Takenouchi to direct the film. With the translation coordination of Tamiyuki "Spike" Sugiyama, production began in October 2000 and ended in April 2003. The cost of the film is said to have been $4 million.
The first four episodes from the film were shown on MTV and Cartoon Network in 2001. Cartoon Network hosted the episodes online as part of their short-lived Toonami Reactor project (later revived as "Toonami Jetstream"). In December 2003 Interstella 5555 was released along with the album Daft Club, which served to promote the film and provided previously unreleased remixes of tracks from the Discovery album.
Many elements common to Matsumoto's stories, such as a romanticism of noble sacrifice and remembrance of fallen friends, appear in Interstella 5555. Daft Punk revealed in an interview that Captain Harlock was a great influence on them in their childhood. They also stated "The music we have been making must have been influenced at some point by the shows we were watching when we were little kids."
Reception[edit | edit source]
The film was generally well received by critics. Rotten Tomatoes states that 86% of critics thought positively of the film, based upon 7 reviews. The BBC gave the film four stars out of five, saying that the film is a "visual and aural treat of intergalactic proportions". MovieMartyr.com said that the film was "the best animated film made in 2003, and a true testament to the artistry possible in two very different mediums." However, Empire said the film was "Fine if you like the band - you'll be treated to some cartoons playing over the top of their Discovery album. For everyone else, just daft."
Trivia[edit | edit source]
- As the characters were designed by Matsumoto, they resemble some of the characters in his shared universe.
- The journal's name Veridis Quo can be read multiple ways:
- When read quickly it says 'Very Disco'.
- When read alternatively, it can be read as 'Discovery'.