Sunday, 13 January 2013

Films again!

Look at that! I'm on the second week in! This must work... or something. What? Film reviews of course!

Beautiful film, beautiful poster. 
Would you like to know more?

The second film I want to talk about is the geekish labour of love that is the Fifth Element, a film in which every single detail in the background has a story to it and in which people really thought about the fashions and influences for every single character. Jean Paul Gaultier made the costumes and really went all out - not just extrapolating fashions of the late-90s, which would have dated the film, nor trying to thing of 'futuristic' designs that would have looked equally out of place.

No, he went with the idea of the film, looked at the concept designs for the cars and the ships and the technology and worked with that part of the team, along with Luc Besson who wrote and directed it, to create something that looked so at home in the general aesthetic that it is impossible to divorce the costuming from the plot. And that is beautiful design.

Cars, buildings, cities, planets and space ships are all carefully considered. Even the crowd shots, using the crew and small amounts of extras digitally repeated, have been carefully thought out. Each apartment in one scene, five millenia later, has a different sub-plot that were all modelled on the stories that Luc Besson wrote about the city when he was a teenager. None of them impact the story he tells in the film in any way but it meant that the actions of all those apartment dwellers had their own internal logic - we were literally seeing snapshots of other peoples' lives. The overall effect is that we feel we are looking upon something real rather than scripted. There is so much depth to the film and the script that I always feel as though I am swimming underwater without the chlorine.

Characters are another strong point, each one lovingly crafted and acted with passion. For years I did not know Chris Rock outside his role of Ruby Rohd, so imagine my surprise when I saw him elsewhere and he wasn't a prissy, slightly flamboyantly camp and over-cosseted diva in other films! Even the fact that Bruce Willis reprises his role of man in a vest saving the world / Universe with guns and silly one liners doesn't dampen the film. He manages to make it look fresh and different, and the romance seems to be believeable (okay, there are parts where its laid on a little too thick about what the Fifth Element is and why we should care, and there are repeated images in the War section that are, frankly, not to do with war, but still).

It works enough that I am able to follow it rather than pointing out flaws. Exuberance, the whole film just exudes exuberance and is a lovely thing. Get it, get the special edition with the concept art too, and just enjoy the damn' thing. Watch it as many times as you want, there's always something new, and you won't be disappointed. It's a thing of great beauty and it just makes me feel happy and smiley every time I see it. I own it and still, if I catch it whilst channel hopping, I get the urge to watch it again.


  1. This is another of my favourites, although my wife always falls asleep at same bit.

    I love its high-camp sensibilities. With any other story and with any other director, it would be over the top, but Luc Besson somehow makes it work. The only other person who can manage that level of camp is Baz Luhrmann. Looking forward to Gatsby.

    Lee Evans turns up! Bizarre!

    1. Two things I have to know now:

      Where does your wife fall asleep?

      How did I not notice that it was ALL so camp?

      And yes, I remember the moment when Lee Evans turned up at the cinema and thinking "what the chuff...?" Even the trailers were bizarre, not to mention the fact that the first scenes take place in Egypt around the time of the First World War!