Daft Punk's Electroma is a 2006 avant-garde Science Fiction film directed by... well... Daft Punk. The film's story revolves around two robots (meant to be separate characters, not the actual band members) who try to become human, setting off on a surreal, very patiently paced, Scenery Porn-filled, and completely dialogue-free journey.
It is the duo's only feature-length directorial effort and their only straightforward film, as their previous visual work had progressively shifted from a music video compilation (D.A.F.T., made for Homework) to a feature-length music video of sorts (Interstella 5555, made for Discovery).
Similarly, Electroma was a byproduct of the duo's 2005 album Human After All, exploring its Central Theme of the dichotomy of man and machine. The film began its life following the completion of the music videos for "Fresh", "Robot Rock" and "Technologic", which the duo also directed. As they moved onto shooting for the music video of the album's Title Track, they decided to extend the footage into a complete feature film, which they then opted to focus on instead of filming videos for the rest of the album. However, aside from the famous helmets of the characters and "Daft Punk" being written on the main characters' jackets, the story has zero relation to any previously established continuity whatsoever.
Initially shown at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival, Electroma was later shown at independent film screenings in France, Canada, Australia and the US. As the duo had predicted, its experimental structure made for divisive reception, with one particularly long sequence causing a number of walkouts at its Cannes premiere. However, a cult status began growing as soon as a year later when more public midnight screenings began, with the film selling out frequently and gaining a wider following.
In 2021, a climactic moment from the film (the sequence where the silver robot destroys himself) was uploaded to YouTube with the title "Epilogue", ahead of an announcement by Daft Punk's publicist that they would be disbanding.
Daft Punk's Electroma provides examples of:
- Become a Real Boy: What kickstarts the plot. Their car's vanity plate even has the word "HUMAN" on it.
- Cool Car: A Ferrari 412, to be exact.
- Cool Helmet: So much so that everybody in town gets one! Subverted by the Guy-man protagonist, who smashes his to pieces.
- Despair Event Horizon:
- It is implied that the silver robot crosses this after their plan to become human goes awry and the locals chase them out of town, as he is seen staring into a mirror with no reaction as Guy-bot cleans himself up. For the rest of the film, he generally walks with his head down, as opposed to the Guy-robot, who walks normally. He never looks back, sadly.
- The Guy-robot gets it after the silver robot's death, and resorts to setting himself on fire as a result.
- Dissonant Serenity:
- Operatic, melodic music plays as the hero robots (whose faces are seen melting), in a panic, run into a rundown restroom as they are pursued by a mob of townspeople.
- The ending, as the burning Guy-robot walks through the desert, backed by the languid folk song "I Want To Be Alone" by Jackson C. Frank.
- Downer Ending: The film ends with the main characters' goal thwarted, and both of them either dead (the silver robot, which blew itself up) or dying (the Guy-robot, who lights himself on fire).
- Driven to Suicide: After trekking the desert for a while, the silver robot starts to trail behind the Guy-bot. When he goes over to see what's wrong, the silver robot asks him to switch on the self-destruct keypad located on his back. He complies reluctantly. Shortly after, Guy-bot attempts this himself, but can't reach his own keypad. Instead, he opts to kill himself by setting himself on fire with a piece of his helmet.
- The Exile: Our heroes after their humanity stint gets them kicked out of town.
- Expy: The main characters themselves are ones for Daft Punk's robot personas. The masks given to the two main characters bear striking resemblances to Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo's real faces.
- Face Death with Dignity: The silver robot seconds away from his detonation.
- The Face Less: The two main robots, as to be expected by Daft Punk. It's then shown that literally everybody in the town has the same helmets.
- Fan Disservice: The two shirtless scenes involve the subjects killing themselves.
- Foreshadowing: When things get bad for the two robots, a brief image of fire flashes up on the screen, Hinting at Guy-bot's Self-Immolation later on.
- From Bad to Worse: First, their new faces start melting. Next, they're kicked out of town. It just kind of snowballs from there.
- Glamour Failure: The sun melts away our heroes' attempt to pass themselves as human.
- Hell-Bent for Leather: Our heroes.
- The Hero Dies: Both of em.
- Heroic BSoD: The silver robot experiences this first before crossing the Despair Event Horizon. Guy-bot follows suit shortly after the silver robot's death.
- How We Got Here: The film often cuts to footage of something burning in what appears to be a desert, with no clear view on what's actually happening. The end of the film reveals that this was caused by the Guy-robot setting himself on fire in the desert.
- I Cannot Self-Terminate: Both robots are unable to reach the self-destruct switch on their backs. One is forced to activate the other while not able to reach his own.
- In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: If the helmets weren't a dead giveaway.
- Le Film Artistique: It's a French film with an angsty, abstract bent as opposed to more conventional film. Thomas Bangalter stated that they approached making the film in a way similar to their music — to freely create something with no mind towards standards.
- Mechanical Lifeforms: The townsfolk act exactly like humans do. We're able to see elderly robots, child robots, and even a pregnant robot in one scene.
- The Mirror Shows Your True Self: Appears multiple times.
- The first time, our heroes see their melting masks in the reflection of an ice cream truck.
- The second time, the silver robot sees his face amongst the remains of his mask in the mirror while they hide from the mob.
- The third time, Guy-bot takes his helmet off and examines his true face in it, prompting his Rage Against the Reflection.
- No Name Given: Expected, as there is no dialogue. The credits even list our heroes as "Hero Robot #1" and "Hero Robot #2".
- Only Six Faces: Every single robot in town have the same helmets, up to and including the protagonists themselves. The only difference is that the two hero characters have black necks, as opposed to the rest of the townsfolk, who either have white or no necks at all. Justified due to the fact that they're all robots.
- Pinocchio Syndrome: A common observation of the film's story.
- Rage Against the Reflection: After looking at himself with his own visor, Guy-bot smashes it to pieces on the ground. He later uses the pieces to set himself on fire.
- Self-Immolation: How Guy-bot bites it.
- Shirtless Scene: Twice. Both are more sad than anything.
- Silence Is Golden: Not a single word of dialogue is spoken throughout the film.
- Tempting Fate: The two hero robots get new human faces — on a hot summer's day, without taking shelter, and while walking normally around a town of robots with no apparent attempt to blend in or leave the area. This earns them confused looks, derision, and eventually pursuit, by the townspeople, who run them out.
- Thousand-Yard Stare: The silver robot while he and Guy-bot hide from the angry mob. He keeps trying to put his face back on as he does so, but it just won't work.
- Torches and Pitchforks: The townsfolk after seeing the duo's new getup.
- Uncanny Valley Makeup: The main characters' latex masks. Good GOD.
- Unflinching Walk: Guy-bot manages to pull this off when he sets himself on fire.
- Vanity Licence Plate: "HUMAN" on the main characters' Cool Car.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: The Ferrari 412 which never shows up again after they get their faces.
- White Void Room: Where the two robots get latex masks to look human. Notable in the fact that the people inside save for them are part of the void as well, and thus can't be seen.