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Electroma

27 August 07 words: Alison Emm
Robots - and not the transforming kind. Daft Punk’s Electroma is coming to a screen near you.

 

Since the release of Da Funk, Daft Punk have given us some damn fine tunes to bop along to with some memorably great videos to accompany them. The duo have chosen to remain anonymous throughout their career to the extent that during interviews they’ve worn black bags over their heads and had their faces digitally blocked out like some bad ‘uns on the news. Either of these disguises could have been the basis for a film but instead they chose their more distinctive Discovery era robots for inspiration.

Unlike their previous dalliances with film, Daft Punk’s directorial debut does not use any of their own music. The soundtrack, including the likes of Brian Eno, Curtis Mayfield and Chopin amongst others, complements the film perfectly. Being entirely free from the shackles of speech it allows the imagery and acting to speak for itself. You may be surprised at how much a robot can emote without any moving facial features.


Electroma follows two robots (I’ll call them Mr. Gold and Mr. Silver) on a journey to robot suburbia to realise their dream of becoming human. They get there in style with a 1987 Ferrari 412. A very nice car but it does get somewhat tedious to watch it driving down a road for over seven minutes without any dialogue. The scene where they get their human faces is amazing - a white room in which all the characters, except Mr. Gold and Mr. Silver who wear black, are in white suits. It has an eerie, surrealistic feel which when combined with the symmetry of the set is almost hypnotic to watch.

Proud of their new visages they wander through the town until the intense Californian sun begins to melt away the latex. This is the catalyst for the shift from optimism to despair in the film. Mr. Silver is distraught at the loss of his face and so the pair head out of the town by foot. They go for a walk, a very very long walk. Too long a walk some might say... With sweeping shots of the desert and sand dunes it is undeniably beautiful and the cinematography is excellent. Feel free to pop to the loo or bar at this point though as you are seeing a lot of the same thing and unfortunately it detracts from the film rather than adding to it. My hat does go off to the actors who, dressed from head to toe in black with full helmets, had to tolerate the desert heat.


You would be forgiven for thinking that the suburban scenes were shot by John Carpenter whilst the driving and walking scenes have an air of Death Race 2000. Although Electroma is a piece in its own right, it is glaringly obvious that a little bit of borrowing has been done. The plot isn’t conveyed very clearly which could be due to the lack of dialogue or that the characters are expressionless robots. This has its benefits in that you can interpret it whichever way you want and if the mood takes you, have a discussion about it with your friends without missing any lines.

Electroma is a 74-minute feature that could have easily been compacted to a half an hour masterpiece and more’s the pity it wasn’t. However, if you are a fan of Daft Punk, sci-fi, art films or photography then don’t be put off. With a seventies feel it gives you a sense of being in a dream or looking back on a faded memory. A gorgeous film to watch that rewards your patience throughout by giving you food for thought and stunning visuals.


Electroma will be shown at Broadway on Tuesday 28 August at 6:30pm.


Electroma website

 

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