We got our Madchester movie—or half of one, anyway—in 24 Hour Party People. Our post-punk film was the Joy Division biopic Control. Our Brit rave homage was Human Traffic. But never did we expect to see a film like Eden.
Eden, which will premiere next month at the Toronto Film Festival, is based on the "French Touch" filter-house movement that grew out of Paris in the 90s and produced the likes of Cassius, Laurent Garnier, Etienne de Crécy, Air, and, of course, Daft Punk.
The film spans two decades of life in Paris and New York, from 1990 to the present day, and follows the story of a 17-year-old named Paul who runs away from home and immerses himself in the Parisian club scene. He starts a two-piece electronic band with one of his friends and—you guessed it—they take the world by storm. It sounds like Boogie Nights meets The Last Days Of Disco, with a little of Christian F's existential Eurocool thrown in for good measure.
In 1998, French house was reaching its commercial peak. Stardust - who were, of course, Daft Punk in disguise - scored a global smash hit with "Music Sounds Better With You." Brit dance publication Mixmag declared that the French Touch set had both saved dance music and changed it forever. The scene's crate-digging, nostalgic sensibility restored a sense of innocence, wonder and gleeful optimism to dance music, and Eden's rites of passage-style narrative seems like the perfect vehicle for capturing all that.
And let's face it—indie filmmakers love any excuse to shoot beautiful French teens smoking in a variety of urban locations. Aside from lots of sumptuous 90s period-detail, alongside the odd ingestion of everyone's favourite disco tablet, expect lashings of pastel-hued melancholy, teen romance, and hyper-real hedonism: the stuff French Touch was made from.
Compare and contrast: the real Daft Punk as teens.
It's a timely release given the scene's delayed impact on dance music today. We have French Touch to thank for EDM, because without filter disco, there'd be no French electro, and without French electro, there'd be no EDM. The film will no doubt also profit from the recent renaissance Daft Punk have enjoyed off the back off the EDM boom, culminating of course in 2013 with the duo's summer Goliath, "Get Lucky." The director has confirmed that Daft Punk have licenced three of their songs for the film's soundtrack.
Eden should be the film French Touch deserves—but just in case the filmmakers have any more time in post-production, here's ten ideas we'd love to see make it past the cutting room floor.
1. The Robots
How can you tell the tale of the French Touch and not at least touch on the genesis of the alien-robot gear? How about an A-Team-style montage with the duo slaving over their prototype helmets with welders and lots of sawing, only to reveal a couple of really shit paper mache blobs with some aviators glued to them.
2. This Guy
This year, David Guetta turns 76, but once upon a time in the pre-history of EDM, he was a young scamp with a dream, squirrelling around the Paris underground in search of his big break. We'd like to see a subplot documenting Guetta's journey from mouth-breathing booth groupie to utterly shite producer, concluding with Guetta the jaded sell-out, with the human penis shouting at paintings in his L.A. mansion deep in the grips of acid delirium. Actors to play Dave? What about Rhys Ifans, who bares an uncanny resemblance to Guetta, or for comedy value, Danny Dyer? He'll do anything these days.
3. Modjo - 'Lady (Hear Me Tonight)'
No great period movie is complete without its own equally great soundtrack, featuring songs from the era. Where would American Graffiti be without Haley's "Rock Around The Clock," or Dazed And Confused without Aerosmith's "Sweet Emotion"?
Modjo were the French duo of producer Romain Tranchart and vocalist Yann Destagnol. From 2000, their evergreen "Lady (Hear Me Tonight)" belied the big beating heart beneath filter-disco's winking retro artifice. Uncomplicated, tender and proudly un-ironic, "Lady…" was innocence incarnate. Its speaks of pureness and a naif idealism and by extension the 90s itself, a decade which, as the years go by seems increasingly like simpler times, like a paradise lost or if you will, an eden.
Director Løve tells The Guardian that the cost of music rights alone for Eden total $500,000, which means that the film is set to be jam-packed with French Touch originals. "Lady…" would be perfect for soundtracking the good old "high times" montage before the film's inevitable second act downturn as the dream turns sour, or perhaps employed as a redemption piece in the final scene, as a disillusioned, burnt-out Paul remembers when it was all about the music. Human after all.
4. The Birth of The "Muffle Effect"
Every dance genre has its own signature technique. For acid house it was the 303 squelch, for Detroit Techno the "mentasm" synth sound. Trance had its shite snare-roll build-up, while of course dubstep had the wub. French house developed a variety of techniques, from side-chained beats to that instantly recognisable monolithic kick sound, but only one was uniquely filter-disc: the muffle effect.
Music biopics tend to favour the human story over exploring the musicological innovations that made the artist such a figure. We want some science here. How about Eden dramatises the very moment the DJs invented filter-disco's greatest filter effect in a kind of Hustle and Flow-style invention scene. Etienne De Crecy leaves a cushion on a speaker and accidentally invents what was the scene's greatest contribution to dance music - the once ubiquitous muffle effect that for about three or so years was the only way to begin a house track or build the rising power of a heart-melting synth hook.
5. British DJs
Okay, so we've got actors playing the brother's Daft and presumably the rest of the Touch crew. But what about seeing some of the big Brit DJs of the era portrayed? Maybe we'll get guest appearances from a young Norman Cook, or Liam Howlett, or even the original superstar DJs themselves, the Chemical Brothers, back when they were just the Dust Brothers and Tom Rowlands looked like a post-rave J Mascis with a engineering degree. Or better yet, all-time wreckhead Brandon Block could play himself, with Block "acting" baffled and intoxicated and permanently chipper, while spouting 90s-dance cliches like "Largin it" and "it's all gone a bit Pete Tong" like a self-parody of a self-parody.
6. MC Solaar
Of course house wasn't the only Gallic export in the 90s. With the rise of collectives IAM and NTM, French hip hop was experiencing its own purple patch. The international face of French rap was the Senegalese born Claude M'Barali, A.K.A MC Solaar. Documenting the immigrant experience in the capital's notorious banlieues, the bullish but spiritual Solaar was something like French hip hop's answer to Nas. With Cassius' producing Solaar's albums in the 80s the rapper was part of the French Touch scene from the off, so a depiction of a young and angry M'Barali would be fitting, not to mention totally righteous.
The first city to embrace the new French house sound outside of Paris was New York. In the late 90s, Manhattan nightclub Twilo became French house msuic's Yank satellite station when it began hosting Respect is Burning, the seminal Parisian club night that had become the Touch scene's Parisian HQ. Twilo was filter-disco's answer to Studio 54, and as the story moves from Paris to the Big Apple we'd like to see scenes set in Twilo depicting much pre-mainstream Touch decadence. Ecstacy and cheap bathroom sex a-go-go.
8. On The Set of Gondry's "Around The World" Shoot.
One cliche of the movie star biopic is the scene with the protagonist on the set of their most famous shoot. It's a fact that Michel Gondry's promo for Daft Punk's "Around The World" is the best video ever made, so a sequence set behind the scenes at the shoot is a must, if for no other reason than to see one of the modern era's master visualists in Gondry immortalised on celluloid.
9. This Guy
Flat Eric first came to fame in 1999 with a star-making turn in a Levis advert, in which Eric was shown dancing to 'Flat Beat', a squat electro-funk track from French producer, Mr Oizo. Sadly, as the bright lights of fame dimmed, Eric, real name Ian Davies, fell on hard times. After declaring bankruptcy in 2003, a spiralling drug habit would eventually lead to a short spell in prison, after which the fuzzy yellow puppet would go on to pursue a life a crime. At last count, Davies is currently wanted in connection with three homicides in the downtown Chicago area, while latest reports suggest the former star enjoys a consultative position within the Albanian mafia.
Years before ageing pervert Pharrell Willams had the same idea, West had courted the Dafters in the mid noughts, with the result being 2007 oddity 'Stronger' - what was essentially Discovery's "Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger" with some rapping over it. We'd love to see a recreation of Boogie Night's 'Sister Christian' sequence, where a free-falling Paul is hosted by a coke-mad West traipsing around his LA reception room in a dressing gown, Kanye's Chinese twink setting off cherry-bombs beneath the surrealistically incongruous stylings of 80s power-balladry.
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