Daft Punk Unchained - TV Review

'Consistently successful, even if it rarely offers a great deal that dedicated Daft Punk fans won't already know'.

For anyone who doesn't know a great deal about the music and career of Daft Punk, the French electronic music duo consisting of Thomas Bangalter and Guy-Manuel de Homem-Christo, Daft Punk Unchained will undoubtedly prove a consistently informative and entertaining documentary. However, if you're an educated long-time fan of the pair's work, then director HervĂ© Martin-Delpierre's film is likely to leave you yearning for something more.

Martin-Delpierre's approach to documenting Daft Punk's career is conventional, mixing talking heads with archive material and clips from music videos, feature films and TV appearances. With a running time of only sixty minutes, Daft Punk Unchained at times feels a bit too whistle-stop to truly satisfy. Whilst some areas of the duo's career are covered in pleasing detail, the director breezes through others which feel as though they would have benefited a great deal from both more time and closer scrutiny. The recording and release of Daft Punk's third album, Human After All, for example, is given much shorter shrift than its two more critically acclaimed predecessors, Martin-Delpierre missing a golden opportunity to explore the reasons behind the album's comparatively rapid production time and Bangalter and de Homem-Christo's refusal to promote the finished product.

In the areas where Martin-Delpierre does go into more detail, Daft Punk Unchained is consistently successful, even if it rarely offers a great deal that dedicated Daft Punk fans won't already know. Aside from a short segment featuring Kanye West - which has an insincere feel not apparent elsewhere, as if the rapper agreed to take part entirely for self-promotional purposes - everything here feels worthy of inclusion. The contributors are both varied and credible, with recognisable and respected names such as Pete Tong, Michel Gondry and Nile Rogers helping Martin-Delpierre to paint a pleasing portrait of the duo. Daft Punk Unchained's most vibrant and engaging segment is a tie between coverage of Daft Punk's performance at Coachella festival in 2006 and their success at the 2014 Grammys, the latter concluding the film on an emotional high whilst the former is simply dazzling.

Perhaps most damaging to Daft Punk Unchained is the absence of any fresh contributions from Daft Punk themselves. Bangalter and de Homem-Christo's voices are regularly heard in radio interviews from over the years, but it's no substitute for what a sit-down interview with the duo would have added to Martin-Delpierre's film. It's somewhat ironic that, in a film which spends a considerable amount of time discussing Daft Punk's notorious aversion to publicity, the most significant stumbling block the director fails to overcome is securing any direct input from his subjects himself.




Daft Punk Unchained is available to watch free on BBC iPlayer until Sunday 20th March 2016. 

By Ben Broadribb. Ben is a regular contributor to Film Intel, having previously written at Some Like It Hot Fuzz. He is normally seen in the wild wearing t-shirts containing obscure film references. He is a geek, often unashamedly so. He's also on and Twitter.

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