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  • Writer's pictureShannon Heibler

The Fifth Element (1997)

My gut reaction to seeing this one come up was initially, "Rad!" And then I thought, "wait do I really think that?" And that about sums up my relationship with this movie.


I didn't see it until college and it was something I was supposed to have seen more than something I wanted to see. I watched it for cultural literacy. I can't remember specifically feigning enthusiasm for it, but I feel like I must have? So going into it tonight, I was excited to learn if I really like it or not. Turns out, I'm ambivalent!


There are parts of this movie that are stellar. Specifically, Chris Tucker and Ian Holm. They are both keenly aware and committed to the movie their characters are in and as a result, they are fun as hell to watch. Every twitch, every stutter, every side eye. Amazing. If you don't think about it too much, the Jean-Paul Gaultier (okay, Luc, calm down) designed costumes are fun. But then you realize that this film is so far from passing the Bechdal test it's embarassing, even for 1997. You realize that no woman is clad in any sort of useful (or, god forbid, modest) way. Oh fun! Sexy Halloween costume McDonald's uniforms! Oh! That...doesn't make any sense. Then you think about Leeloo's "thermal bandages." It's not great. Not to mention Korben's consent issues that he doesn't actually learn from. (But it's okay! He saves the world by once again doing what he was asked not to!)



Still, I'm charmed by a maximalist view of the future because that's almost certainly not where we're headed. (But again, as a woman, I'm less thrilled about a future where women can only nag and service.) And when Holm and/or Tucker are on the screen, I'm having an incredible time. Gary Oldman does Gary Oldman serviceably. Luc Besson proves that his greatest asset as a director is navigating large casts and parallel set pieces. The editing in the more frenzied moments is sublime, each new cut building on and adding to the last. The aliens are weird, the music is frenetic, the military uniforms are stupid. Literally everything I want from a 1997 released sci-fi movie (winking at you, Starship Troopers).


Linocut print on paper




Takeaways:

-Yay back to watching a movie and finishing the make within the week! YAY!

-One of my goals for myself right now is to get comfy doing small pieces. Or at least not always ridiculous pieces. This was surprisingly satisfying and I liked how it turned out! WIN!

-I did hands! And a face! In block print! Sorry, y'all I'm just really pleased with how pleased I am. I've been sick since the start of the year and it's really been bringing me down. It's nice to have a win.

-One of my struggles with block prints is the inking and printing (I quite like the carving part) simply because of how much space and time they take. A lot of the block printing artists I follow online use ink stamp pads on their blocks which looks tidy and easy so I figured I'd try it. GOSH I do not like the outcome. Really patchy and weird. I think there's probably better ink pads out there that I should be using but I'm prepared to write this technique off. Stick to what I know and get some consistency out of.


Well great! Onto the next.

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