Magazine article Filmmaker

Mr. Roboto

Magazine article Filmmaker

Mr. Roboto

Article excerpt

The French duo known as Daft Punk did not start out as filmmakers but as house music legends. Friends since their early teens, Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo went from rock bands to superstardom in the electronic music world in the mid-'90s with the bedroom-produced album Homework. After an accident in the studio, as the story goes, the two became robots. Few photos of their human past exist, and they rarely do interviews. Following a string of unique music videos directed by other directors and themselves, the duo worked with legendary anime director (and their childhood hero) Leiji Matsumoto on the animated feature Interstella 5555. An energetic mix of new Daft Punk songs and classic 1970s-style anime, Interstella 5555 breached a new art form for the duo.

Bangalter and de Homem-Christo directed their first feature, Electroma, in 2006 and premiered it at Cannes to audiences who either loved or hated it. A beautiful, seductive journey following the two Daft Punk robots through a sci-fi desert experience, Electroma is reminiscent of minimal yet powerful scifilm films from the 1970s. Electroma comes out on DVD this July in a metal casing with a 40-page photo book.

Is it an accident that you guys first became robots and now you've got an entire feature film about robots? Or is this some 10-year plan? Bangalter: The whole way we generally look at art is try to capture our spontaneity, let accidents happen and, at the same time, meddle in creative cultures. The rendition of spontaneity can take a few years or more. For [Interstella 5555] we built the storyline in a few hours and spent three years [making it].

You are fans of midnight movies. Did you have those types of screenings in mind? Bangalter: We didn't really think about an audience. We were trying to mix different styles and different universes. Combining minimal science fiction pinnacle universe with something much more small with warm natural landscapes. Mixing nature with strange technology as well.

de Homem-Christo: With the [recent] major live show there were thousands of people there; Electroma was at the other end. Very low-key, more underground. It's a movie that plays theaters at midnight on Saturday nights like El Topo did in the '70s. …

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