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Two hundred and fifty years in the future, life as we know it is threatened by the arrival of Evil. Only the Fifth Element can stop the Evil from extinguishing life, as it tries to do every five thousand years. She is assisted by a former elite commando turned cab driver, Korben Dallas, who is, in turn, helped by Prince/Arsenio clone, Ruby Rhod. Unfortunately, Evil is being assisted by Mr. Zorg, who seeks to profit from the chaos that Evil will bring, and his alien mercenaries.

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Mondoshawan: Priest, you and those before you have served us well. But war is coming. Stones not safe on Earth anymore.
Priest: My lord, if you take the weapon, we will be defenseless when the evil returns.
Mondoshawan: In 300 years, when Evil returns... so shall we.


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Besson met Bruce Willis a few years before production started and talked about the project, although he decided later to search for a relatively unknown young actor for the role of Korben instead, so as to spend less on actors and more on sets, costumes, and special effects. Willis approached Besson expressing continued interest in the film, and after Besson explained the issue, Willis responded "You know, Luc, if I like it, we will find a way." Willis made a deal with the production team for the role, a move which greatly pleased Besson.
Besson chose to hire Gary Oldman, who had starred in his previous film, Léon: The Professional, for the role of Zorg, describing Oldman as "one of the top five actors in the world."
For the character Leeloo, Besson chose Milla Jovovich from the 200 to 300 applicants he met in person.

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As a teenager, Besson envisioned the world of The Fifth Element in an attempt to alleviate boredom. He began writing the script when he was 16, though it was not released in cinemas until he was 38.

He states he was waiting to build a reputation for himself as a filmmaker before he commenced production of the film, so that he would be able to make it with creative control.

The Fifth Element

poster for The Fifth Element
Directed byLuc Besson
Produced byPatrice Ledoux
Screenplay by
  • Luc Besson
  • Robert Mark Kamen
Story byLuc Besson
Music byÉric Serra
CinematographyThierry Arbogast
Edited bySylvie Landra
Gaumont Film Company
Distributed by

Gaumont Buena Vista International (France)

Columbia Pictures (USA)

Release dates
  • 7 May 1997 (1997-05-07)
Running time
126 minutes
Budget$90 millions
Box office$263.9 million

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Luc Besson

Luc Besson is a film director, screenwriter, and producer. He directed using a distinctive style dubbed Cinéma du look by critics. In 1980, he founded his own production company, called Les Films du Loup, and later Les Films du Dauphin.

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