Wednesday, February 2, 2011

The Fifth Element

Aaahhhh! Ok, ok, I'll do it. I'm practically dragging myself to write an entry about this crazy film, which I did enjoy watching the first time and again as I reviewed it recently. The reason this is so painful is that I'm accustomed to honoring works that hold some intrinsic value. The Fifth Element has little of it and yet I can't seem to shake it out of my head. It reminds me a bit of Hitchhiker's Guide, yet different. Alike in that in that it borrows elements from other science fiction movies, but more as a tribute than in any way a spoof. Alike in it's comedy, but more as a side attraction than as the main objective. Alike in its European flavor, but more French than British. And in addition, it aims at one point to convey a message about the worth of mankind being more in the way we love than in the wars we fight. Well, maybe that's stretching it a bit. But no matter what I may think about it, I can't seem to help enjoying it. As a film that claims such close kinship with the sci-fi genre, this has to be the place to write on it, and so I write.

This movie has guts. Its unconventionally flamboyant sets, costumes, and visuals work because of sheer creativity. Its cartoon-like characters work because they end up satirizing various aspects of human society. Its completely ridiculous mythological backdrop works only because it is designed to touch some place in your heart and soul. All the reasons why it should be bad, somehow end up working. And what is really weird is that it seems to flow naturally from the director's own style rather than feel like it was all thought out in advance. Maybe this is the first sci-fi film in which my recommendation would be to just sit back and enjoy it without thinking about it.

I have no desire to describe the story details as they are much better when viewed, except for one symbolism that I picked up at the end on this most recent viewing (small spoiler here). At the end, the five elements must all be opened in order to fight the evil force that threatens the world. The heroes, which include Bruce Willis' character Korbin Dallas, discover that each element stone must be opened by supplying it with a sample of itself - earth to earth, fire to fire, etc. In addition to the usual four elements of ancient lore, the fifth element is said to be a human being, a female, pure and innocent. We find that she is "closing up" with despair after learning of the evils of human history. She must be opened as well, and this is accomplished when Dallas confesses his love to her, which opens her heart and completes the 5-fold energy force to combat the evil. You see, the fifth element is love. The human being was just the "stone" that was meant to hold it. With themes like that, who needs to analyze?

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