Gender Roles in The Fifth Element

The Fifth Element is one of those movies that it often seems like everyone likes. From the comic book visual aesthetic to the ostentatious yet believable nature of the universe, there is a lot to love about this flick. It is also a film that plays with tropes and genre staples in almost every scene. It could be said to be the opposite of a film like Young Frankenstein, which is a parody film that loves its genre; Fifth Element is a genre film that loves its parody. But while he employs many tropes, director Luc Besson seems to be deconstructing and analyzing those very cliches in a way that often makes the result truly brilliant.

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One of the things that gets dissected in this fashion is gender. The way that gender and heroism are intertwined in sci-fi is a constant presence in almost any scene in which there is significant development of the protagonists, Leeloo and Korben Dallas. While these moments sometimes play into expectations and brush with actual tropiness, they also make some crucial points in a way that resonates with an unusually diverse audience.

My primary focus will be three things: Bruce Willis as the “generic action hero”, The Supreme Being as a female archetype, and of course, Ruby Rhod.

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Throwback Thursdays: The Fifth Element Holds Up to the Test of Time

the-fifth-elementI saw The Fifth Element for the first time when I was about ten or eleven. I loved it – the high-tech but grungy future aesthetics, Korben Dallas, the reluctant hero, Leeloo, the supreme being, and the story about how love saves the world. It immediately became one of my favorite movies and I’ve had a thing for Milla Jovovich and Bruce Willis ever since. The last time I saw the movie was a few years ago, so I decided to watch it again to make sure I wasn’t remembering it to be better than it actually was. And I wasn’t disappointed, mostly.

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