The Fifth Element

A supreme being. Perfect.

Nearly 20 years later, this masterpiece remains untouchable. It’s still a simple plot wrapping a colourful and action-packed ride through French comics, or bande dessinée.

The prologue concerns an archaeologist finding a place of great importance where a massive battle between good and evil has taken place. The local priests are sworn to protect the secret and are about to drug the professor when the gods they worship show up. Turns out the “gods” are actually aliens similar to armoured Vorlons that act as Universe cops, visiting Earth to take away the weapon that can vanquish all evil.

When evil shows up again, they are ambushed by a warrior race in the pocket of Zorg, a generic robber baron of the military-industrial complex. He is being controlled by Mr. Shadow, a shadowy figure that never shows up, only makes its underlings and enemies bleed from the head from a distance of a phone call.

The supreme being escapes government confinement and bumps into Korben Dallas, a down-on-his-luck ex-special forces turned cabbie in the New York jungle. The supreme being is the core of the weapon that vanquishes all evil, but she has a fatal flaw: she just wants to be loved. Korben is happy to oblige.

This plot is set in a fantastic world of imagination, with humour and thinly-veiled caricatures of a large array of human cultures.

All actors deserve praise, but Chris Tucker in particular turns a character that should be a secondary comic relief into a meme-tastic performance that transcends the film and will be forever associated with his persona.

This is the high mark of Luc Besson’s career, even though Valerian manages to bring some of this magic to the screen once more.

Bliss is watching this on an open air screen in the middle of a luscious garden surrounded by fans.


This is my place for ramblings about sequences of images that exploit the human visual limitation know as persistence of vision.

Ephemera of Vision