The Fifth Element came out in 1997, starring Bruce Willis and Milla Jovovich, directed by Luc Besson.
Re-watching it this morning, it really struck me how well made this movie is. All of the parts of the climax are set up in advance. The motivations of the characters are straightforward. The beats move the story at a comfortable pace where the audience is not overloaded nor bored.
Damn. This is a good movie.
One thing that I noticed this time through that I had not noticed before is in the first act, just as the hero is accepting the call, where the general and leeloo are trying to get Corbin’s help at his apartment, he lights a cigarette and there is a shot showing that he has only one match left. When the climax comes and the need fire, this isn’t the first time that we’ve been shown that Corbin is down to his last match.
It is such a tiny shot, a few seconds, yet I find that it described this movie in its entirety. The world of the Fifth Element is only a single movie long, yet it feels more alive than some long-running series. Small interactions with side characters let us feel the world move around the main characters, but in a way where it isn’t simple exposition thrown out. These tiny things we are shown makes the world come alive.
I enjoyed watching the movie this morning. A 22-year-old movie gripped me as well as it did the first time I saw it.
I think this is where a lot of movies have fallen down. A movie with a great story can be enjoyed many years later. The Fifth Element, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (the Gene Wilder one), The Maltese Falcon, Casablanca – by today’s standards they don’t come close to the visual sceptical that a modern movie can bring to the screen. Yet I would rather watch them than Avatar.
The Fifth Element is a classic piece of cinema. Whether you are a story nerd, a science fiction nerd, or you just like watching a good film, this is a great film to see. If you haven’t watched it, you should make the time; and if you have watched it maybe think about watching it again, you won’t be disappointed.