Rewatch: The Fifth Element

I rewatched Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element from 1997.  For no reason.

Here are some of my thoughts.

  • Ah, hahahaha. Totally forgotten Luke Perry’s cameo as the inattentive sketch artist in Egypt. The Platonic idea of Luke Perry over-rides whatever his character is called. Had to look it up: Billy. Could’ve been anything.
  • Casting includes Mathieu Kassovitz and Lee Evans in bit parts.  Good.
  • Somehow the aliens in Egypt look exactly like how Steampunk French aliens should look like.

Aliens, but German-speaking French ones. 

  • The future is orange.
  • I like that everything it visible and well-lit. In the future there can be efficient lighting.
  • I’ve previously underappreciated Ian Holm in this. For the serious role he has excellent comic timing.
  • Men in charge presume the saviour is a bloke. Military dudes and lab coated scientists slavouring over the fact she isn’t: ick.
  • Whoever played Korben Dallas’ mother (voice overs on the phone) needs to be recognised and awarded something.

Korben’s Mother: You miserable bastard! I never should’ve pushed you out.

Korben Dallas: Ma?

Korben’s Mother: Oh, so you don’t know you won a trip to Fhloston Paradise for two for 10 days? And I suppose you’ll I was in labor for days, and this is how you repay me? I should’ve just gotten a robot.

Korben Dallas: Come on, Ma.

Korben’s Mother: Don’t “come on, Ma” me. I should be there, not you! I need a tan! I need a cocktail!

  • Chris Tucker’s hyper-sexual, high-pitched fast talker DJ Ruby Rhod has something of a Slim Shady persona.  It’s in the voice.
  • Future media hasn’t changed.
  • Future includes McDonald’s. Sigh.  Hyper-colour Bladerunner you are not.
  • I can’t remember seeing a Bruce Willis film for ages. He’s having fun while shooting at beings and looking bemused. Probably his signature style.
  • Zorg could have been a one note one-dimensional baddie, but Gary Oldman rounds him out. A bit.
  • And the actually baddie? Whatever. Big planet thing.

Older films can be as weird as newer films based on older literature.  Who is Alice, Korben or Leeloo? 

  • She says the word! Milla Jovovich: mul-ti-pass.  A 23rd century multi-pass can get you across space.  Right now, forget about using a Melbourne myki in Sydney. As for Sydney’s Opal card in Melbourne? Also a hard no.
  • Um Mr Besson, does Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets have the same plot/interesting casting? The plot summary is familiar: A dark force threatens Alpha, Valerian and Laureline must race to identify the marauding menace and safeguard not just Alpha, but the future of the universe. But to give Besson a break, all stories have the same plots, and saving the universe isn’t a bad one.
  • What is it with undefined, unspecified ‘evil’ threats? At least Zorg has a philosophy. Not a great one, but it is specific and evidence based.
  • Fun fact: Besson wrote drafts of The Big Blue (which I should see again) and this film in school.  Not film school. High school. I was busy being angsty and reading SF in the library during breaks. Besson invented his career.

Orange stock photo is orange. Like this film.

  • All the customer service roles are performed by women. Why?
  • All the police and military types (bar one) are men. Why?
  • This is some kind of fascist dictatorship isn’t it? Police can enter (tiny) homes at will, demand ID, and drag people away for denying it.
  • Why does smoking exist? Why not an invented  or alien addictive substance, or none at all? If cars can fly and vehicles can reach other planetary systems, surely tobacco has been eliminated/made non toxic?
  • Is the refrain ‘Leeloo is perfect’ a reflection of how Besson felt about Jovovich (while married to Maïwenn who played the Diva)? Just asking for me. Such a cliché, a director falling for a star. As predictable as transference between psychologist and patient.
  • The singing is good.
  • The President and military characters are caricatures. It doesn’t matter.
  • The five elements working together. The stones are cool.
  • The fifth element calls herself ‘protection,’ but at Leeloo’s core, love activates her function as saviour. Yep, love is used to kill a predictable, yet unknown alien threat.
  • All in all: Artistic. Weird but not. Fake and bright. Colourful and chaotic. Unnecessarily voyeuristic towards Leeloo.  Violent and sentimental.  Over acted. Idiosyncratic. Fun. Creative yet predictable but not-Hollywood.
  • Conclusion: mul-ti-pass!

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