Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem

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Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem
Theatrical release poster
Japanese インターステラ5555
Hepburn Intāsutera Fō Faibu
Directed by Kazuhisa Takenouchi
Produced by
Written by
  • Thomas Bangalter
  • Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo
  • Cédric Hervet
Music by Daft Punk
Cinematography Fumio Hirokawa
Haruhiko Ishikawa
Edited by Shigeru Nishiyama
Olivier Gajan
Toei Animation
Daft Life Ltd.
Distributed by Virgin
Release dates
18 May 2003 (Cannes)
28 May 2003
Running time
65 minutes[1]
  • Japan
  • France
  • Italy
  • Canada
  • Australia
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
Language English
Budget $4 million[2]

Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem (インターステラ5555 Intāsutera Fō Faibu?, "Four Five") is a feature-length Japanese-French animated adventure fantasy science fiction musical film originally released on 28 May 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.[3] The film has no dialogue[nb 1] and minimal sound effects.


The story begins on an alien planet where four blue-skinned music stars are performing the song "One More Time" to a similarly blue-skinned audience. At the end of the song, a team of humanoid troops infiltrate the concert and subdue everyone with gas. The band's male guitarist attempts to escape, but gets caught while running away. All four musicians are kidnapped and beamed aboard a large space vessel ("Aerodynamic").

A distress signal is sent out to a nearby ship piloted by a lone blue man named Shep. When Shep is first seen he is daydreaming of Stella, the female 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 distress signal from the planet shocks 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 the vessel 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 hidden behind sunglasses ("Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger"). The band's captor, the 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 (bassist), Arpegius (guitarist), Baryl (drummer) and Octave (keyboardist / vocalist). 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 performing in a concert at a crowded arena with the Earl de Darkwood on the stage, directing as it would be an orchestra. Shep rockets into the stadium and fires a handheld beam-device at Arpegius, Baryl and Octave, freeing all but Stella from the effects of their mind-control glasses. Forced to leave Stella behind, Shep and the others hijack a small van and attempt to escape the arena. During a chase, bodyguards catch up to the van in two cars and mortally wound Shep before crashing into a semi-truck ("Superheroes").

Still under mind control, Stella later picks up a card dropped by the Earl, which reads "Darkwood Manor 05/05 5:55". She is taken to a "Gold Record Award" awards ceremony, for which The Crescendolls have received a nomination.[nb 2] When the Golden Record is awarded to The Crescendolls, Baryl, hiding disguised in the audience, uses the aforementioned beam-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"). After the band buries Shep's remains, they see his 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, the same place that appeared on the card Stella found earlier. The quartet 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 the 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 5,555. The band look up from the tome to find themselves surrounded by the Earl's guards, who escort them to the chamber of an underground chasm. The Earl grabs Stella and thrusts her into a massive device lined with his Gold Records, offering her as a sacrifice to complete the ritual. The remaining members free themselves from the guards. Arpegius rushes to the Earl before he releases the power and causes the last Gold Record to fall from his hands to the abyss. The Earl tries to grab the record, but he himself falls in, presumably to his death. Arpegius rescues Stella from the device while Octave takes the Veridis Quo book, and the band flees from the castle as it self-destructs ("Veridis Quo").

Escaping the explosion and now aware of the technology that the Earl de Darkwood had used on them, the band travels back to the Record company. Octave spots the memory disks depicted in a page from the book. He removes the page and puts it in his jacket pocket. When they arrive at the Record company building, Octave breaks in stealthily and finds the master recording of "One More Time", under which the band's archived memory disks are found.[nb 3] Octave attempts to leave with the disks but is surrounded by guards. He reaches into his jacket to retrieve the page of Veridis Quo to try to explain himself, but one of the guards, thinking he is pulling a weapon, uses a stun gun on him. Due to the electric shock, Octave falls to the ground and returns to 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 montage 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 have been returned to their blue-skin form and with their memories back. As the band prepares to leave, people from all over the world wave goodbye to the band ("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 ship. The band successfully returns to their home planet and are welcomed by its inhabitants. They are again on stage and the audience is dancing to their song. Everyone on Earth is also seen dancing to the performance shown on television screens. Outside his home planet's 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 a further zoom out onto 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.[nb 4] The needle is moved off the record and the music stops ("Too Long"). As the ending credits roll, a remixed version of "Aerodynamic" plays.[nb 5]


  • Stella – The only female band member, she is the bassist of the Crescendolls.
  • Arpegius – The guitarist of the Crescendolls.
  • Baryl – The drummer of the Crescendolls. He is 20 years old, and noticeably shorter than most other characters.
  • Octave – The keyboardist and vocalist of the Crescendolls.
  • Shep – An alien astronaut on a mission to rescue the captured Crescendolls.
  • The Earl de Darkwood – The human captor of the Crescendolls and the main antagonist of the film.
  • Daft Punk - The masked musicians themselves make a cameo appearance in "High Life".


As detailed in the insert included with the 2003 DVD,[3] 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.[3] The cost of the film is said to have been $4 million.[2]

The first four episodes from the film were shown on Cartoon Network on 1 September 2001 during the "Toonami Midnight Run: Special Edition". Cartoon Network later hosted the episodes online as part of their short-lived Toonami Reactor project (later revived as Toonami Jetstream).[4] 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.[5] A Blu-ray edition of the film was released on September 2011 and contains similar artwork packaging.

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."[6]


The film was well received by critics. Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a rating of 86% based on 7 reviews (6 positive, 1 negative).[7]

The BBC gave the film four stars out of five, saying that the film is a "visual and aural treat of intergalactic proportions".[8] 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."[9] concluded by stating that the film is "a unique feature that shows just how well music can be blended to animation to make a compelling story."[10]

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."[11]


  1. ^ Although no dialogue is featured in the film, some characters are depicted to be talking or singing. Some examples with main characters: Shep sings "Digital Love"; Octave sings "One More Time" and appears to convey information in "Short Circuit"; Earl talks to Stella during "Crescendolls" and in "Veridis Quo", he reads from the eponymous book as part of the ritual.
  2. ^ Daft Punk themselves make a brief cameo appearance in the film during the Golden Record Awards scene (obviously, losing to The Crescendolls); as the candidates are being named, they appear in the nominations reel with their robotic faces saying "Peace" and a star emoticon, then they are spotted in the audience with their robotic faces saying "Happy" and "?", followed by "Great" and a broken heart emoticon once the winner is announced.
  3. ^ When Octave enters the record company's building, the security guard is watching a football match between France and Japan, with the score being even 1–1. The score later changes to 2–1 as France scores. Both members of Daft Punk are French, and Matsumoto is Japanese. The match is presumably a reference to the FIFA World Cup, which was held in Japan in 2002.
  4. ^ The last scene of the film contains a lot of Daft Punk merchandise. What can be seen are vinyl records of Homework, Discovery (with side D being played on the record player), Alive 1997, and a DVD copy of DAFT
  5. ^ The song featured in the end credits is listed as "Aerodynamic (Daft Punk remix)", though this version differs from the remix featured in Daft Club.


  1. ^ " Interstella 5555 – The 5tory Of The 5ecret 5tar 5ystem". Amazon. Retrieved February 13, 2013. 
  2. ^ a b Eric Ducker, "The Creators" (2007). The Fader, issue 47, pp. 115. Retrieved on April 25, 2009.
  3. ^ a b c Interstella 5555 DVD insert, 2003.
  4. ^ Toonami: Digital Arsenal Retrieved on April 14, 2007.
  5. ^ Interstella 5555 at Discogs
  6. ^ Daft Punk Interview at the Wayback Machine (archived June 27, 2004), archived from June 27, 2004. Retrieved on September 16, 2007.
  7. ^ "Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster. Retrieved January 25, 2009. 
  8. ^ Jamie Russell (October 13, 2003). "BBC – Films – review – Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5system". BBC. Retrieved January 25, 2009. 
  9. ^ Jeremy Heilman (February 28, 2004). " – Interstella 5555: The 5tory of the 5ecret 5tar 5ystem". Retrieved January 25, 2009. 
  10. ^ Beveridge, Chris (October 19, 2009). "10 Great Anime That Are Not Miyazaki". Mania.  Query Wayback Bibalex Wayback WebCite Wikiwix
  11. ^ Nick Dawson. "Empire Reviews Central – Review of Interstella 5555". Empire Magazine. Retrieved January 25, 2009. 

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