The Fifth Element

Fifth Element is also the original name of the Estonian girl band Vanilla Ninja.

Template:Infobox Movie The Fifth Element (1997) is a science fiction action movie starring Bruce Willis, Gary Oldman, Ian Holm, Milla Jovovich, Chris Tucker, and Al Matthews and directed by Luc Besson. The aesthetics of the movie were designed by Jean-Claude Mzires and it has a strong, European comic-like look and feel. The film contains a good deal of humour.

The Fifth Element places the survival of humankind on the shoulders of Korben Dallas (Willis) after the supreme being (Jovovich) falls into his taxicab. His mission to find the Fifth Element referred to in the film's title is complicated by the fact that evil Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg (Oldman) is also in hot pursuit.



Every five millennia, when three planets are in eclipse, evil embodied takes shape and attempts to turn light to dark - life to death. The weapon against this evil is in a temple in Egypt. To succeed in its goal, the evil has to consume the location of the weapon. The weapon is the Five Elements of the universe: the first four are water, fire, earth and air, which are embodied in the form of small triangular-prism stones, and the Fifth Element is a Supreme Being, resembling a human woman except genetically superior, encased in a sarcophagus in a shape of a person's mouth widely open facing upward. These five elements together produce the Divine Light, which vanquishes the Ultimate Evil for another five thousand years. This weapon was placed on Earth by the Mondoshawans, an old and mysterious race, and the knowledge of the Evil and the Weapon is passed down generation to generation by a line of priests who serve the Mondoshawans.

Missing image
Reassembling the Fifth Element.

In 1914, the Mondoshawan guardians took the elements away because they were no longer safe on Earth, due to the soon-to-begin World War One. Three hundred years later, when the Ultimate Evil formed again, a Federated Army battleship fires on the Evil; it only gets larger and engulfs the ship. The government allows the Mondoshawan to return and help defeat the Evil. When the Mondoshawans attempt to bring the elements back to Earth. However, Jean-Baptiste Emmanuel Zorg (Oldman), a powerful weapons manufacturer who was asked to obtain the stones by the Ultimate Evil (who Zorg only knew as "Mister Shadow"), orders the destruction of the travelling Mondoshawan spaceship. All of the Mondoshawan crew and the Supreme Being die when the crippled ship crashes on a planet, but the Earthlings are able to retrieve from the crash site a severed hand within a glove, which are regenerated to bring the Fifth Element, a red-haired and amazingly strong, smart and beautiful woman (Jovovich), back to life. The woman, however, immediately escapes the laboratory cage and dives into former war hero and now cab driver Korben Dallas's taxicab.

Missing image
Leeloo escapes into 2263 New York City.

Korben (Willis), a former major in the elite forces, takes the woman to the present-time priest with the knowledge of the Evil, Vito Cornelius (Holm), and finds out that her name is Leeloo Minai Lekatariba-Laminai-Tchaii Ekbat De Sebat (Leeloo for short). Leeloo tells Cornelius that, as it turned out, the first four elements were not on board the crashed ship but were bestowed by the Mondoshawans to a sky-blue alien opera singer, the Diva Plavalaguna, for protection. (It is interesting that "plava laguna" means "blue lagoon" in the Serbo-Croatian language; this is a reference to Mila Jovovich's first film, Return to the Blue Lagoon.) She is meant to contact the Diva in a hotel on the planet Fhloston, where the Diva is performing at a charity ball.

Zorg finds out that the stones weren't aboard the ship the hard way: when the Mangalore warriors he sent to destroy the ship return with an empty case. He is therefore close to giving the Mangalores nothing in return but, at gunpoint, leaves them one crate of ZF1 weapons. But one Mangalore accidentally triggers a bomb built into his ZF1, leaving the Mangalores out for revenge.

The government also finds out about the Diva from the Mondoshawans, and decides to reactivate Korben and send him to retrieve the stones from the Diva. In order to get him to Fhloston they rig a contest where the winner gets tickets to Fhloston. Four different people end up trying to get onto the flight as Korben: the real Korben, Cornelius's novice David along with Leeloo, Zorg's assistant Right Arm, and two shapeshifted Mangalore warriors (who intend to get the stones to make Zorg negotiate for them). Eventually Korben and Leeloo get on the flight together. Cornelius also stows away in the ventilation system.

Immediately after a concert in an opera house-spaceship orbiting Fhloston, Plavalaguna is shot by Mangalores who try to take over the ship. Zorg arrives, with the intention of getting the stones himself, and plants a mini-nuke bomb in the hotel. He takes a wooden chest from the Diva's suite, believing the stones to be inside, but once he's taken off he opens the chest and finds they're not there.

After retrieving the four stones from their actual hiding place - inside the Diva's body, Korben manages to defeat the Mangalores by killing their leader. Afterwards the hotel's bomb detectors detect the mini-nuke and everyone evacuates the hotel. A furious Zorg returns to the hotel just as everyone is leaving, and gets blown up as the hotel explodes.

As Korben, Leeloo, Cornelius and a radio DJ called Ruby Rhod (Tucker) are on their way back to Earth the Ultimate Evil starts moving towards Earth. Leeloo also researches "War" and finds out about the cruelty of man.

They arrive back on Earth with only fifteen minutes left before everyone will die, and set up the weapon. But Leeloo doesn't want to create the Divine Light - what is the point of saving life if we are going to destroy it? But Korben convinces her there are some things worth saving, like love, and tells her that he loves her. They kiss, and the Divine Light forms and stops the Ultimate Evil just sixty-two miles from impact. It crusts over, goes into a harmless orbit and becomes a second moon.


Missing image
Plavalaguna performs on stage.

Some pieces in the score have a Middle Eastern flavour to it. The popular taxicab chase scene music, "Alech Taadi", by Khaled, is excluded from the movie soundtrack, however.

In the second half of Plavalaguna's performance, the music as well as the singing suddenly and dramatically turns from classical to techno style. This change is accompanied by scenes alternating between the performance and Leeloo's fight with a dozen aliens in Plavalaguna's chamber, with the fight moves and film editing choreographed to the music.

The diva dance opera performance used music from Lucia di Lammermoor Part Two, Act Two, N. 14 Scena ed aria, "O giusto cielo!" and was voiced by Inva Mula-Tchako. As Plavalaguna is an alien, the music was scored with some vocalisations that are physically impossible for a human to produce; digital sampling and editing techniques were used for these.

The Opera House scenes were actually filmed at the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, except for the scenes showing the spaceship window with its view of Planet Fhloston behind the Diva.


  • Even though the story jumps "300 years into the future" from 1914, the year in the future is 2263.
  • In the future New York City, there still is a Central Park which has the same size and location as the original - but is a hundred feet in the air.
  • In the future, the surface of the ground is too polluted to walk on. Not only that, but the air itself is thick and suffused with black smoke; anyone unfortunate enough to be standing on the Earth's actual surface will not be able to see or breathe (or even live, if they stay too long). This is shown in a brief police chase scene during the film, when Korben Dallas hides his taxicab under the fog and a pursuing policeman bitterly remarks "How do they expect us to find anything in this shit?"
  • The surface of the water is also much lower in the future. We see this in a brief shot of New York Harbor, when there is almost no water left (the island containing the Statue of Liberty is now connected directly to the mainland). There are, however, still oceans left, as we can see the Earth from space in a few scenes.
  • Interestingly enough, Korben (arguably the main character) and Zorg (the main villain) never encounter one another.
  • As a visual motif, Korben usually has a large rectangle behind him and Zorg has a large circle behind him.
  • When ABC first aired The Fifth Element, they digitally removed all the Golden Arches since ABC is sponsered by McDonald's
  • In an original version of the script, Zorg confronts Korben aboard the hotel. Zorg then fails to kill them when he discovers he used all his ammo in his ZF1. Korben and company escape and Zorg activates a shield in his ZF1. He then survives and lands on Planet Fhloston. Zorg tries to call his secretary to send another spaceship, but the batteries in his ZF1 phone die.

External links

fr:Le Cinquime lment ja:フィフス・エレメント hr:Peti element sk:Piaty element sv:Det femte elementet


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