When asked about the fantastic world of The Fifth Element and how it came into existence, Luc Besson said that he started writing the screenplay when he was 16 years of age. So it makes sense seeing all those 23rd century futuristic ideas and concepts – there is nothing more creative than a bored teenager.
However, as the director said, a movie always has to have a story, something with which the people can relate. So, while the setting was established during those years, he kept working on the script until he came up with a lesson to be learned upon watching the movie: why does the world need to be saved?
Of course, everybody knows the answer to that. But the thing is that a story/lesson is best remembered if it is presented in a playful manner (as children, we always learn better from games than from boring classes). So the idea of presenting everything from a comedic point of view was born.
And there are quite a few scenes in which this is obvious, even from the beginning of the movie. It isn’t a situational comedy (mostly), but humor which can be seen underlined in the lives each of us has.
But there is also humor derived from the pop-culture, with two references to Star Wars – Father Vito Cornelius is actually a caricature of Obi-Wan Kenobi, while Major Iceborg is obviously a nod to Princess Leia.
And there is also the great chemistry between the actors, who do the best job at portraying their characters. And in here I can remind of Gary Oldman, with whom Luc Besson previously worked on Léon: The Professional. As the director said, there was nobody better at portraying Zorg (a mix between dandy, nouveau riche and Hitler) than a classical theater actor.
The same goes for Bruce Willis and Milla Jovovich, who have a genuine spark between them – and this is obvious from the moment she falls in her cab.
As a conclusion, I can say that the lesson was well learned. But, in a way, we have forgotten about it – Zorg is the kind of character that will stop at nothing to have his plans succeed. And while it is funny to see that on the silver screen, it isn’t as funny to see it and feel it in real life (in a way, the joke is on all of us).