The Weekend Australian - Review - - Film Reviews - Michael Bodey

As it hap­pens, DVD Let­ter­box only re­cently ex­pressed its love of 1990s French house mu­sic, in the form of a re­view of Eden, Mia Hansen-Love’s drama about the pe­riod.

Well, blow me down with a sub­woofer. Only two months later a doc­u­men­tary about the peak of the pyra­mid in that era and be­yond, Daft Punk, has ar­rived.

Daft Punk Un­chained (M, Univer­salSony, 110min, $24.95) is a slick pro­duc­tion from BBC World­wide France — and doesn’t that sound like an in­sur­gency? — about the rise of two Parisians still hid­ing be­hind their ro­bot masks, Thomas Ban­gal­ter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo.

As doc­u­men­taries about mu­si­cians of­ten do, Herve Martin-Delpierre’s piece per­haps over­states Daft Punk’s place in the mod­ern mu­sic pan­theon. Events are given a weighty tone with stark graph­ics and ap­pear­ances from peers, in­clud­ing Kanye West, Phar­rell Wil­liams and Nile Rodgers, talk­ing up their in­flu­ence.

That’s a mi­nor quib­ble though be­cause Daft Punk Un­chained un­cov­ers rare video and au­dio that makes this an il­lus­tra­tive rather than fawn­ing ha­giog­ra­phy.

Best among the rar­i­ties is vi­sion of the duo’s first band, Dar­lin’, with Phoenix’s Lau­rent Bran­cowitz, play­ing live.

Their mid-1990s English in­die gui­tar dirge re­called much of what was go­ing on across the Chan­nel at the time and spawned a Melody Maker re­view la­belling two songs a “daft punky thrash”.

So the well-off teens moved to elec­tron­ica and recorded their first two al­bums, Home­work and Dis­cov­ery, in Ban­gal­ter’s bed­room. Other early footage of the duo DJing shows their early di­rec­tion and the ef­fect of their buzzy bass on dance floors.

Home­work was a sem­i­nal al­bum of Chicago-in­flu­enced house mu­sic given a novel elec­tronic spark, yet the duo were still kids, shun­ning fame and ex­per­i­ment­ing (al­though not with drugs; Ban­gal­ter hates them be­cause he can’t bear los­ing crit­i­cal con­trol).

Their rise is chron­i­cled nicely even if we don’t learn much about their pri­vate lives or even the in­tri­ca­cies of their work­ing re­la­tion­ship, other than their stead­fast, and suc­cess­ful, de­sire to not cede any con­trol to record la­bels.

The pair don’t speak al­though Mart­inDelpierre ac­cesses plenty of ra­dio in­ter­views and other ma­te­rial and in­ter­views any­one of in­ter­est in their ca­reers.

They pro­vide al­most uni­ver­sally pos­i­tive mem­o­ries, even if some still don’t get the duo’s ec­cen­tric­ity. Clearly they didn’t want to “par­take in the cha­rade” of the mu­sic in­dus­try, as one friend says.

They shunned fame, yet their re­treat be­hind their ro­bot per­sonae be­came a mar­ket­ing mas­ter­stroke.

Daft Punk is an odd, melodic duo. This doco pays due rev­er­ence to that mu­sic and that ec­cen­tric­ity.

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