Source Material

I sat through The Fifth Element once more tonight. It is a fat, sloppy, stupid mess of a sci-fi/action flick that you’ll hate yourself for liking, and I’ve probably seen it five or six times. It makes me ill to think I’ve endured half a dozen showings of this thing and maybe two of, say, Citizen Kane, Apocalypse Now or The Godfather but no more . . . I probably haven’t seen it in 2 or 3 years now, and as I watched this time a revelation hit me like a ton of bricks:

Writer/director Luc Besson’s 1997 movie is the hideous sire of writer/director George Lucas’s monstrous 1999-2005 Star Wars prequel trilogy. Lucas ripped off The Fifth Element just as surely as the Wachowskis’ Matrix movies ripped off Dark City.

It’s in the individual elements: the cab chase in 23rd century New York City translates directly to the Coruscant car chase scenes of Episode II; the opera diva and her entourage are dead ringers for Queen Amidala and hers; Chris Tucker’s shrill DJ, Ruby Rhod, and Ahmed Best’s frantic Gungan, Jar Jar Binks, are brothers from a different mother. But it is also in the style, the atmosphere, the costumes, the dialogue (and acting), the set design, the characters and the flow. Watch any movie from the original Star Wars trilogy and The Fifth Element, back to back, then follow it up with any movie from the prequel trilogy and tell me where the family resemblance lies.

A quick internet scan revealed that I am not the first person to make this connection to some degree (but I didn’t find anyone who seems to realize the extreme degree of sameness). Similarities and even duplicate elements abound to a degree that makes them difficult to catalogue. I’m not sure what conclusion that leads to or what questions it raises (if any), I was just too thunderstruck by the sudden realization not to share it, for whatever that’s worth. The Fifth Element is a compendium of everything I hate about the Star Wars prequels.

~ by Jared on December 28, 2006.

One Response to “Source Material”

  1. So…
    <i>The Fifth Element</i> + lightsaber duels = <i>Star Wars</i> prequels

    I applaud you, sir. I wasn’t sure anything could strengthen my desire never to see <i>TFE</i> again (to paraphrase Churchill: “Rarely have so many usually-good actors wasted so much time on such rubbish”). But you just did.


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