Luc Besson’s 1997 Film The Fifth Element, conveys the story of a ‘colorful future, a cab driver unwittingly becomes the central figure in the search for a legendary cosmic weapon to keep Evil and Mr Zorg at bay’ (1997,www.imdb.com). Although the storyline is based around the idea of alien existence and supernatural activity, the scenario is not that far-fetched for its predicted time of the 23rd Century.
Dr Riedy (2016, Week 3 Lecture) believes there a four archetypes of future environmental trends. From his explanation of environmental growth and expansion alongside economic development The Fifth Element falls into the category of a Techno Utopia.
We are than taken 300 years into the future where human life is now situated on other planets. This was made plausible by contributing factors such as social and cultural, technological, environmental, economic and political (STEEP). Both Kuzmanovic & Gaffney (2014) and Riedy (Week 3 Lecture) believe that when creating a new Scenario it is important to list the drivers of change (STEEP) for ‘the quality and logic of a story has to be convincing’. It is because of these factors that Director Besson was successfull.
Although viewing this movie 19 years after it was produced, the issues that have been addressed are still relevant to our society. With the current rate of population growth, the expansion of the built environment is inevitable. Besson addresses this through utilising higher rise buildings- not only to show growth but also to highlight the abundance of smog and pollution on the city’s floor. These high rise buildings and apartments occupy small spaces, sharing close similarities LAAB architect designed apartments in Hong Kong referenced by Sleep Shifters In their future scenario presentation.
The main source of transport is either flying car, train (which uses the edges of buildings as tracks) or walking (as the buildings are joined by long pathways).The use of these modes of transports are dependent on social and economic status. When main character Korben wins a holiday away he is flown to ‘Hawaii’ which is located on a giant spacecraft. Social and cultural groups are identified through location and dress.
Robinson, C. The Fifth Element Costumes, Pinterest, Viewed 27th October 2016, <https://au.pinterest.com/pin/297519119117139306/>
Most characters have a typical uniform which have been reconceptualised to suit a more highly sexualised society. This is deemed plausible as costume designer Jean Paul Gaultier has relied on the broken boundaries of the uniform, something that we have already seen throughout history as becoming highly sexualised as a form of rebellion (Craik, 2003).
It is obvious that the main driving force behind this scenario is the consistent development of technological advancements. As the majority of these ideas are built on from existing innovations, they are not inconceivable. For example, stem cell research in 2008 was ‘one of the most exciting aspirations of current medical science’. Having proven that we can grow body parts (Musaro, A), the regeneration of protagonist Leeloo is easier to accept when placed within a medical chamber 300 years into the future.
It’s developments like these that characters rely on to function in their everyday lives. With voice recognition, multifunctional weapons and artificial intelligence, their police forces remain dominant. The placing of hands on pressure sensitive yellow circles stops gunfire and smoke bomb, providing a higher level of safety for human police officers.
Through these deeper investigations of varying situations and products this film has visualised a tangible future, while also acting as a form of warning. Reflecting not only the positive but also the negative implications we may face if we do not resolve our current problems.
The Fifth Element 1997, Motion Pictures, Columbia Pictures, France.
Craik, J. 2003, The Cultural Policitc of the Unifrom, Berg: Fashion Theory, Volume 7 issue 2, pp.127-148.
Hue, P. 2016 ,LAAB fits kitchen, Cinema, Gym, inside a 30 sqm Hong Kong Appartment, Design Boom, Viewed 30th October 2016,<http://www.designboom.com/architecture/laab-architects-small-home-smart-home-hong-kong-flexible-interiors-04-26-2016/>
Kuzmanovic, M. & Gaffney, N. (2014), Prehearsal pocket guide: Methods for future pre-enactments, <http://lib.fo.am/future_fabulators/antipodean_musings>
Riedy, C. 2016, ‘Week 3 Lecture: An introduction to futuring, Institute for sustainable futures’, UTS Subject 85202, UTS, Sydney.
1997, The Fifth Element (1997), Imbd, Viewed 26th November 2016, <http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119116/>
Musaro, A. 2008, The Contribution of Stem Cell and Tissue Niche to muscle Regeneration, ICFAI Journal of Biotechnology, Vol 2 Issue 1, pp. 62-71.