The Fifth Element

The Apocalypse Takes On

An Intergalactic Tone


Upon first glance, The Fifth Element appears to be your typical, run of the mill action-adventure movie. The traditional elements are there – good vs. evil, man vs. aliens, a nice romance, and tons of special effects including the good old standby of blowing things up. It’s easy to forget that there is an actual message behind this movie and be carried away by the breathtaking visual effects. The undercurrent running throughout the film, along with the plot that drives it, is for the main characters, Leeloo (Milla Jovovitch) and Korben Dallas (Bruce Willis) to prevent the end of the world as we know it. The highly creative techniques used in making the film, including costuming by Jean-Paul Gaultier, seem to take the focus away from the movies message and lean towards the film as a complete visual spectacle. It is important, though, to receive the message and not just the messenger itself.

The most important feature to remember while watching The Fifth Element is the theme of light vs. dark. The fifth element, Leeloo, is depicted as white in both drawing and sculpture form. In addition, her power shows itself through a beam of bright white light which shines into the darkness and dissipates it, recalling Genesis 1:3-4 – “Then God said, ‘Let there be light”; and there was light. And God saw that the light was good; And God separated the light from the darkness.” In addition, the force of absolute evil, whom refers to itself as Mr. Shadow, manifests itself physically as a huge black sphere teeming with fire which grows to have a diameter of 1200 miles. This ball continuously expands, and has the primary function of exterminating life. Leeloo, on the other hand, is thought by many to symbolize life as the fifth element. Therefore, these two forces are in constant battle throughout the film.

 It is important to note that these two forces, as presented in The Fifth Element, do not

face each other every year. Instead, these two forces must meet each other every 5000 years, with the winner ensuring either life or death for the galaxy. At first, this seems to be in contrast to the 1260 years presented in Revelation 12:6. However, this number of years should be read metaphorically, symbolizing the passage of a large amount of time.  These two elements face each other on a set yet long timeframe.

Both the fifth element and Mr. Shadow seem to draw great power from their voices. This idea emanates from the Bible as well. In the book of Ezekiel, the voice of God is described as being like “the sound of many waters; and the earth shone with His glory.” (Ezek 43:2). In addition, the idea of the voice of God causing damage is revisited in the book of Revelation, which states that the fifth angel would be seen “ascending from the rising of the sun, having the seal of the living God; and he cried out with a loud voice to the four angels to whom it was granted to harm the earth and the sea…” (Rev 7:2) When the fifth element stops the darkness from enveloping the earth, her power is manifested through a scream that manifests physically as a white beam of light. Likewise, when Mr. Shadow speaks to the villainous Zorg on the phone, the power of his voice, even through radio waves, is enough to cause Zorgs head to bleed. The thought of the voice of God containing a great deal of power is evidenced in other contemporary films, most notably Dogma, where the voice of God is shown to not only cause destruction, but right that which is wrong as well.

When Roger Ebert wrote his review of The Fifth Element, he remarked, “Like `Metropolis’ or `Blade Runner,’ it offers such extraordinary visions that you put your criticisms on hold and are simply grateful to see them.” Both of these films contain arresting visual images of the future, much like Element, and both are considered to be tenants of apocalyptic film. Over time, perhaps The Fifth Element will join these movies in the pantheon, as the common misperception of the film as a purely visual extravaganza is forgotten, and people begin to look at the words that make up this imaginative story.

"..when the three planets are in eclipse ...
the black hole like a door is open...
Evil comes ... sowing terror and chaos...
See?  The snake, Billy.  The Ultimate Evil
... make sure you get the snake!”


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