Cinerama: The Fifth Element

Posted: September 12, 2009 in Cinerama

The Fifth Element

By Mike Derderian

Stun blasts ricocheted off the back bumper of the careering cab. Hovering police units tried to derail the yellow hovercraft off its course but the driver was not exactly your average Joe behind the wheels. His name was Mike Indiana, an ex-marine and an ex-Axe deodorant guinea pig. “Hey they pay well… I needed the money,” the husky voice of Indiana overlaps the written narration.

“This is the last time I am going to work on a rainy day. Who are you lady and why are the cops after you?” he frantically told the redhead, who was wearing nothing but white bandages around her slim figure and was sitting at the back seat of his car.

Imagine how our lives would be without imagination. Boring, governed by routine and at the same time morally exhausting.

We are usually preoccupied with four elements: politics, sex, the society that we live in and religion, but what about the fifth element? How many of you out there allocate a few minutes of their time for imagination? Try sitting alone for half an hour doing nothing but use your imagination. “Forgo the real world for a moment or two and you might stumble on something true,” Imagena, the Daydream Sorceress, told her children.

By the way the female passenger’s name was Leeloominai Lekatariba Laminatcha Ekbat D-Sabat or in short Leeloo (the stunning Milla Jovovich). Now Leeloo might have been the fifth element in Luc Besson’s 1997 summer sci-fi blockbuster The Fifth Element but to me imagination is and will always be the fifth element.

Two word sums up this 126-minute movie: Funky cool! And I am not just talking about its atmosphere. The characters are great, the costumes are superb (designed by Jean-Paul Gaultier), the special effects and Computer Generated Images (GGI) are out of this world and the plot… wow dude—or whoever is reading this week’s column—it is a Luc Besson movie and that’s all you need to know. Ok you need to know more and I am going to tell you a little bit about the plot.

Two hundred and fifty years have passed since a Mondoshawan ship-manned by aliens dressed in gold plated armors-last visited earth. Evil that took the shape of a flaming traveling planet decided it was time to re-claim earth. Many centuries ago priests were entrusted with a secret that would save earth from such a day. Father Vito Cornelius (Ian Holm) now holds the key to the secret known as the Fifth Element.
While landing their ship the Mondoshawans were attacked by Mangalores, an alien race able to shift their shapes into any human form. Hired by Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg (Gary Oldman) the Mangalores were to steal the five element rocks from the protectors of earth. Earth’s scientists, however, managed to save a severed hand from the burning wreckage. Using advanced science and technology—way advanced—they un-intentionally re-constructed the body of Leeloo back to life.
The Fifth Element also stars Milla Jovovich, Chris Tucker, Tommy ‘Tiny’ Lister, Brion James, Maiwenn Le Besco, Lee Evans, Charlie Creed-Miles and Bruce Willis as Korben Dallas, the ex-soldier turned cabby, who fell for Leeloo from the very first moment she crashed into his cab after a long fall from the governmental building in which she was created.

The script is loaded with French humor, which is one of the elements that made this movie funny. Now, not many know it but French humor is hilarious and at times extremely crazy the same way The Fifth Element is.

Any one watching a Hollywood movie high-speed car chase scene usually hears the rock and metal music playing in the background but Besson decided that an oriental track performed by Cheb Khaled was good enough and it was. Having the sounds of an oriental tablah music; Bruce Willis’s motor mouth jargon; aliens with big guns; Milla Jovovich, who is sporting a fiery red hair and an attire made of white bandages; and hovering police units all thrown in a CGI enhanced scenery of a futuristic setting is more then any sci-fi film fan can bargain for.

The soundtrack was vibrant and quite enjoyable even though it sounded a bit off in terms of picture and sound synchronization. Songs by Cheb Khaled and musical compositions written by Besson himself were included. For no apparent reason sci-fi movie directors believe that music in the future will be overshadowed by Arabian and oriental music. Do we look like we are going to influence anyone in the coming few years? Quoting Zager and Evans’ hit song it feels like the year 2525.

The Fifth Element might come as a blend between Blade Runner and The Jetsons, however, the plot’s gloominess was overcome by lightheartedness of its characters. Besson could have simply resorted to the dark path of sci-fi and made a dead serious action packed futuristic flick, where humans are eternally damned by their own hands and creations but this was not the case in this movie. The pacing was simply amazing and a person was barely able to catch his breath from the multitude of action and characters springing out on the screen every single minute.

Acting-wise Holm was as usual in any film he is in quite original as the anxious and mousy priest. Tucker’s personification of Ruby Rhod’s certainly redefined the future of radio presenting and Oldman was Oldman but with a bizarre hairdo and a southern accent and French-German name.

The Fifth Element might have been the movie that helped Milla Jovovich embrace her future as a sci-fi heroin—like Alice in the apocalyptic based on a videogame Resident Evil (2002) and futuristic Ultraviolet (2006) as Violet Song Jat Shariff. She was both fragile and tough as Father Vito Cornelius puts it.

The star of the show, however, was Bruce Willis, who gave us a performance worthy of a futuristic John McClane but without having to be bear foot for the rest of the movie. The Fifth Element is blazingly worth the watch.

Must-see-scene: Leeloo vs. the Mangalores; the scene involving Zorg; Diva Plavalaguna’s opera concert; Chris Tucker’s high pitched performance; the send-me-a-negotiator scene, when Mangalores capture the passengers of the space cruiser and Dallas decides to show them how negotiation is done; and the nerve wrecking scene near the finale, when the Fifth Element is about to be deployed.


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