Back in 1997, Luc Besson’s The Fifth Element premiered at the glitzy Cannes Film Festival in France. It’s grand debut was accompanied by a fashion show by Jean Paul Gaultier (The film’s costume designer), fireworks, and a ballet. Shortly afterward, the film was released worldwide. The film was a critical and financial success, grossing over $260 million on a $90 million budget. At its release, it was the priciest European film ever made, and was the ninth highest grossing film in 1997. After its release, The Fifth Element sparked an international cult following, cosplay pandemonium, and cemented Mila Jovovich’s status as an action icon. Growing up, I loved the amazing futuristic visuals, the catchy soundtrack, the outrageous costume design, and the colorful characters in Leeloo (Mila Jovovich), Corbin Dallas (Bruce Willis), Ruby Rhod (Cris Tucker), Mr. Zorg (Gary Oldman). In 1997, I was only a toddler though, and didn’t see the film in all its glory when it was originally released.
This year is the 20th anniversary of the film, and it precedes the release of Luc Besson’s next major sci-fi film and magnum opus, Valerian. To mark this special occasion, The Fifth Element had a limited re-release across the country. I was able to go to a screening, and see the movie as it was intended to be. I know I’ve seen the film too many times to count, but I wanted to see it as it was back in 1997. I even ventured to another part of town in order to go to the screening. The theater wasn’t full, but there was a decent crowd, so I wasn’t alone in my geekdom.
It was amazing to see one of my favorite films on the big screen. There was still laughter and excitement for the screening, and even applause as the credits rolled. It is interesting what time does to your mind and perception of films. I still love The Fifth Element, but I did find myself noticing things I had never noticed before- like costume and set details. I also had thoughts about the cheesiness of the film, and noticed some of the dated CGI and alien costumes, and the film’s warped gender roles and various stereotypes. Boo! I know. It’s weird when you start to grow conscious and notice things, but I wasn’t angry. The Fifth Element is very nostalgic for me, and in my opinion- is one of the last great original sci-fi films of our time.
ADRIANA, THE CINEMA SOLOIST