liberating the world from the Twilight Zone
with the allegorical film art of Luc Besson
by Gary W. Wright
Like most film artists who were established or emerging in the early Eighties, Luc Besson was as shocked and outraged as audiences by the helicopter crash around 2:20 am in the early morning of July 23, 1982 that killed actor/director/writer Vic Morrow and child extras Renee Chen and Myca Le on the George Folsey produced John Landis set of the Frank Marshall executive produced and Kathleen Kennedy associate produced allegorical Landis, Joe Dante, George Miller and Steven Spielberg telefilm, TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE (1983). Unlike most film artists, Besson also understood that the TZ disaster was so traumatic that it had started a whole new era of twilit film art. For he set his first allegorical Zone War salvo and cinematic manifesto, LE DERNIER COMBAT (1983), in a twilit black and white post-apocalyptic world midway between daylight and darkness that reminded us that the original Twilight Zone telefilm series appeared in black and white on television. The fact that the few survivors of the post-TZ apocalypse were not only mute, as if rendered speechless by the trauma of the TZ disaster, but battling furiously and unsympathetically amongst themselves also correctly affirmed that begun had the dread allegorical Zone Wars. As one of these mute, embattled and unnamed post-TZ apocalypse survivors-played by Pierre Jolivet, who also co-wrote the film-spent the film battling, and finally defeating, a huge ‘Black Knight’-who evoked David Prowse’s Darth Vader in the allegorical, Ozian themed and implicitly Spielberg roasting film, STAR WARS EPSIODE IV: A NEW HOPE (1977), but had the features and glasses of Spielberg, and was played by Jean Reno-in order to replace Fritz Wepper’s dour and Sir Ridley Scott resembling Captain in order to take over his gang-who resembled the reigning Anglophone film artists at the time such as Francis Coppola and Stanley Kubrick-and get his girl-played by Christiane Kruger-Besson also implied his hope that he would be able to beat the reigning Anglophone film artists in the dread Zone Wars and be crowned the new king of world film art. If not the new Lucas of film art, given the cheeky resemblance of Jolivet to a young Lucas.
Besson reaffirmed the implicit intent of LE DERNIER COMBAT by partly setting the film in a desert that evoked the desert world of Tatooine in STAR WARS EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE, the post-apocalypse desertscape of the implicitly Lucas roasting L.Q. Jones film, A BOY AND HIS DOG (1975), the desert sequences of the allegorical and implicitly Coppola roasting Spielberg film, CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND (1977), and the post-apocalyptic outback of the allegorical and implicitly Lucas and Spielberg roasting Miller film, THE ROAD WARRIOR (1981). Besson reaffirmed his implicit intent by also alluding to the eerily prescient and twilit Sir Scott film, BLADE RUNNER (1982), a link reaffirmed by a member of the post-apocalyptic gang who resembled Rutger Hauer, who played the replicant Roy Batty in BLADE RUNNER. A fitting link to BLADE RUNNER, given that the film was partly inspired by the French adult sly fi/fantasy narrative art magazine, METAL HURLANT-recreated as HEAVY METAL in North America-and that LE DERNIER COMBAT also came across as a film inspired in part by METAL HURLANT. And that Besson would eventually openly create METAL HURLANT/HEAVY METAL on film.
Significantly, the bleak, black and white, ruined and stripped to the basics post-apocalyptic world encountered in LE DERNIER COMBAT-a world noticeably lacking in the big budgets and splashy special effects that young viewers had gotten used to since the arrival of STAR WARS EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE-perfectly summed up the mood in the gloomy and despondent post-TZ disaster film world and that a twilit new era of film art had indeed begun. It helped that LE DERNIER COMBAT was fine initial combat, indeed, giving Besson the confidence to return in full colour and in French-with Jolivet again as a co-writer, Reno as the less nasty and more mysterious drummer, Jean Bouise, and Eric Serra not only contributing another original soundtrack, but also playing his ‘…composer and bass player’ self-when he continued his obsession with Anglophone film artists in his twilit, Ozian themed and allegorical film, SUBWAY (1985).
‘Why the fuck did you invite me to your party?’
Indeed, SUBWAY began with another bearded Lucas lookalike who evoked Jolivet’s director with no name, immediately linking the film to LE DERNIER COMBAT. However, this one was wearing a tux and driving a speeding Benz through the streets of Paris in determined chase of Christophe Lambert’s blonde, irrepressible, implicitly Great Oz linked and David Lynch resembling and evoking safe cracker and robber Fred, in his own rocketing car, implying that Fred was the main character rather than the latest Lucas lookalike. Fred’s pursuers chased him into the Paris subway system where Fred was forced to live a furtive underground existence with some equally furtive and Ozian linked denizens who were also in hiding underground. Ozian linked denizens like the implicitly Scarecrow linked flower seller-played by Richard Bohringer-the implicitly Tin Man linked Roller-played by Jean-Hughes Anglade-and the implicitly Cowardly Lion linked Gros Bill-played by Christian Gomba. Significantly, this fast paced opening evoked the equally fast paced ending of the allegorical and implicitly Spielberg supporting and Slava Tsukerman roasting Ron Howard film, SPLASH (1984), released only the year before, which saw Allen Bauer and Madison the mermaid-implicitly linked to Spielberg and his film art, and played by Tom Hanks and Daryl Hannah, respectively-forced into hiding beneath the waves after being chased through the streets of New York in their Benz by soldiers in military trucks. This initially implied that Howard was the target of Besson in SUBWAY-indeed, a waiter in the subway café (perhaps played by Eric Proville) looked like Howard, affirming the film’s implicit interest in Howard.
However, the sight of the iconoclastic, independent and Lynch resembling Fred on the run and forced underground after causing a fuss at a toney party he had been invited to by Isabelle Adjani’s beautiful, beguiling and Kathryn Bigelow resembling and evoking Helena-indeed, the name of Helena evoked Marin Kanter’s Carrie Fisher resembling Telena in the allegorical and implicitly Lynch bashing Bigelow and Lafayette ‘Monty’ Montgomery film, THE LOVELESS (1982), implicitly affirmed that Fred’s resemblance to Lynch was no accident. For Fred’s plight reminded us that after being invited to the toney Hollywood party by Mel Brooks-who had been so impressed with the dreamy and allegorical Lynch moving painting, ERASERHEAD (1977), that he had persuaded the equally iconoclastic and independent Lynch to direct the allegorical and implicitly Lucas addressing moving painting, THE ELEPHANT MAN (1980), for his Brooksfilms production company-Lynch had gone into hiding by 1985 after he had also caused a fuss at the Hollywood party by failing in his attempt to heal the wounds of the TZ disaster, cleanse the cinematic universe and bring harmony back to the Temple Theatre with his pricey and implicitly Landis, Lucas, Marshall and Spielberg roasting allegorical moving painting, DUNE (1984), inspired by the equally allegorical and implicitly Robert A. Heinlein roasting Frank Herbert novel, Dune (1984). Indeed, the name of Fred evoked that of Freddie Francis, cinematographer of DUNE, affirming the implicit Lynch addressing intent of SUBWAY. In addition, one of Fred’s new friends in the Parisian underworld was a singer named Paul-played by Arthur Simms-evoking Kyle MacLachlan’s Paul ‘Maud’dib’ Atreides of DUNE.
Significantly, Fred got into all sorts of pranks down in the underworld with his newfound Ozian friends, all the while trying to elude Michel Galabra’s implicitly Wicked Witch of the West linked subway Comissaire and the Folsey and Landis evoking Kerman and Jean-played by Constantin Alexandrov and Pierre-Ange le Pogan, respectively. The sight of Fred coming back to the life after supposedly being shot dead in the end by Jean also implied the conviction of Besson that Lynch too would avenge the defeat of DUNE by SPLASH and return to favour with audiences with a good allegorical film, implicitly symbolized by Helena-also implicitly linked to Dorothy as much as Bigelow or Glinda the Good, as a black and white photo of Helena as a girl that Fred treasured revealed her to be the twin of Judy Garland’s Dorothy Gale in the equally black and white prologue of the allegorical and implicitly Wallis Simpson bashing Victor Fleming film, THE WIZARD OF OZ (1939). Particularly if, like Fred, Lynch turned away from disastrous blockbuster heists like DUNE and returned to his smaller and more personal allegorical moving painting roots, which Lynch did indeed do the following year with his allegorical and Ozian themed film, BLUE VELVET (1986). Besson also implied his hope that Bigelow would soften her attitude and embrace Lynch, given that Helena slowly fell in love with Fred over the course of the film.
As for Besson, if he was worried that there was no place for new film artists like him-and a French one, too boot-in a film world dominated by Anglophone film artists, his fear was baseless. For audiences were too outraged and embittered by the TZ disaster, by the failure of the allegorical, Ozian themed, Lucas executive produced and Richard Marquand film, STAR WARS EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI (1983), to bring the STAR WARS Classic Trilogy to a satisfying trimax, and by the all too obvious and inane attempts by New Hollywood film artists to get back in their good books at the time, a desperate attempt all too exemplified by the infuriatingly pathetic attempt by Lucas and Spielberg in their dismal allegorical film, INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM (1984), which saw the Temple of Doom’s enslaved Asian boys and girls liberated and saved by Harrison Ford’s Dr. Henry ‘Indiana’ Jones at the end of the film, so Renee Chen and Myca Le were also symbolically saved, so everything was okay, people, just relax and eat your popcorn and buy your movie tie-in merchandise, okay? So enraged, that audiences turned eagerly to openly anti-Lucas and Spielberg film artists like Besson and Cameron, and embraced punky and spunky allegorical films like LE DERNIER COMBAT and SUBWAY, and righteously furious and allegorical Cameron Zonebusters like THE TERMINATOR (1984) and ALIENS (1986).
Audiences also embraced Bigelow’s allegorical and implicitly Besson and SUBWAY addressing film, NEAR DARK (1987), which warned Besson that he was as naïve and foolish to get involved with Hollywood film art and its artists as the naïve, foolish and Fred resembling Caleb-played by Adrian Pasdar-was to get involved with Jenny Wright’s beautiful and bewitching vampiress, Mae, who resembled a blonde Helena, and her outlaw vampire gang. Audiences also enjoyed a playful roast of Besson in the implicit form of Lester, the gang leader of Zone 7-played by Tim Thomerson, who curiously also played Caleb’s veterinarian father, Doctor Loy Colton, in NEAR DARK-in the allegorical and post-TZ apocalypse Steve De Jarnatt film, CHERRY 2000 (1987)-which affirmed its implicit Besson roasting intent with all sorts of sarcastic allusions to LE DERNIER COMBAT and SUBWAY, along with such pre- and post-TZ apocalypse films as THE ROAD WARRIOR, the allegorical Lamont Johnson film, SPACEHUNTER: ADVENTURES IN THE FORBIDDEN ZONE (1983), and the allegorical Miller and George Ogilvie film, MAD MAX BEYOND THUNDERDOME (1985). Audiences also appeared to enjoy the implicit roasting Besson received in the form of Jeroen Krabbe’s duplicitous Koskov in the allegorical John Glen film, THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS (1987), its Serra evoking soundtrack underlining the implicit Besson roasting intent of the film. However, audiences also flocked eagerly back to Besson when he returned with Bouise, Reno, Serra and producer Patrice Ledoux to implicitly address SPLASH again in his next twilit and allegorical film, THE BIG BLUE (1988).
‘Hey! Have you ever seen a mermaid?’
Indeed, the opening three part twilit black and white prologue set in Greece in 1965 evoked the wistful and sepia tinged prologue set on a ferry off Cape Cod during a Bauer family vacation in 1964 that began SPLASH, immediately and implicitly affirming that Besson was addressing SPLASH again on one level in THE BIG BLUE. The first part of the prologue introduced us to the Franco-American boy, Jacques Mayol-played by Bruce Guerre-Berthelot. Significantly, this first part made clear that, unlike the boy Bauer in SPLASH-played by David Kreps-who had to be rescued by an adult tourist when he dove off the ferry into the water looking for the young Madison the mergirl-played by Shayla MacKarvich-the young Mayol was already an unusually seasoned and confident diver who needed no adult supervision and could hold his breath and stay under water for long periods. Indeed, young Mayol was at one with the undersea world, already accepted by its inhabitants so much that a moray eel eagerly came out of its cave at his approach in order to be fed by Mayol. Clearly, in THE BIG BLUE, the boy was the merperson, not the girl, setting us up for the blonde human woman falling madly in love with the adult merman in a reversal of SPLASH. The second part of the prologue introduced us to Mayol’s arch nemesis, Enzo Molinari-played as a boy by Gregory Forstner-who fancied himself the better free diver. Fittingly, the boy Molinari resembled the adult ‘Black Knight’ of the equally twilit and black and white LE DERNIER COMBAT, preparing us for the return of Reno as the adult Molinari and for more implicit battles between symbolic film artists to come. Curiously, in their first showdown, Mayol refused to rise to the diving challenge, allowing Molinari to win, perhaps implying that Besson had become less eager for fame and fortune after succeeding with LE DERNIER COMBAT and SUBWAY. A definite possibility, given that Mayol was implicitly linked to Besson by his Franco-American genetics, which evoked the Franco-American style of Besson’s film art, and by his father, who was played by Besson’s own father, Claude, who turned up along with Bouise’s Uncle Louis in the third part of the prologue. The most moving part of the prologue, for in it the elder Mayol died in a diving accident. A fatal accident that perhaps symbolized the equally death of Morrow in the TZ disaster, given that Claude looked a little bit like Vic.
Curiously, after a full colour vignette in Sicily in 1988 reintroduced audiences to the older Molinari and made clear that he was still eager to beat the ‘little Frenchman’ in an important free dive, we then found ourselves at an American Research Station high in the Peruvian Andes. Here the beautiful and Madison evoking New York blonde, Johana Baker-played by Rosanna Arquette-met and did indeed fall madly in love with the adult Mayol merman-played by Jean-Marc Barr-who was astounding American researcher Dr. Laurence-played by Paul Shenar-with long free dives in the freezing waters of an icebound Andean lake, aided by a naturally lowering heartbeat and a shift of blood to his brain that implied that Mayol was indeed an unique and dolphin-like merman. Significantly, this sequence in Peru recalled the scenes in the prescient and allegorical David Cronenberg film, SCANNERS (1980), that saw Patrick McGoohan’s Dr. Paul Ruth study the equally unique and naturally occurring extrasensory powers of Stephen Lack’s implicitly Ivan Reitman linked ‘super scanner’, Cameron Vale.
Indeed, Mayol resembled Vale, while the calm, cool, cerebral, wry, knowing and understanding Lawrence evoked the equally calm, cool, cerebral, wry, knowing and understanding Cronenberg, implicitly affirming the allusion to SCANNERS in THE BIG BLUE. It was a curious nod to Cronenberg and SCANNERS, perhaps implying the hope of Besson that his film art would be just as fearless, uncompromising and independent as that of Cronenberg, while also linking the film to the last few good years before the TZ disaster in a way that implied the hope of Besson that films like THE BIG BLUE would kick off a new good year and era of film art. The link to SCANNERS also reminded us that the film ended with Vale triumphing over Evil scanner Darryl Revok-played by Michael Ironside-setting us up for the final free diving triumph of Mayol over Molinari at the end of THE BIG BLUE. A curious triumph, for as with the ‘Black Knight’ in LE DERNIER COMBAT, Molinari was an ambiguous figure, his huge and intimidating size evoking Vader and Lucas, his features and round lensed glasses evoking Spielberg, his Italian ancestry, large family and lavish lifestyle evoking Francis Coppola, with a dash of Landis thrown in for bad measure. Perhaps Molinari simply symbolized all of the major Anglophone film artists-with the exception of Cronenberg-that Besson was eager to triumph over at the time.
At any rate, the closing triumph over Molinari allowed Mayol to finally be accepted by the wary dolphins who watched over him from a safe but interested distance throughout the film, implying the hope of Besson that he and his Franco-American style of film art would be finally accepted by equally watchful, suspicious and fickle audiences, allowing him to become not the all too human and mere fortune and glory lusting dauphin of world cinema but the heady and transcendent new Franco-American ‘Daulphin’ of world cinema-spelt in a way that fused the English word for dolphin with the French dauphin to emphasize that now a J.D. Master of both Anglophone and Francophone film art was Besson-in the end. As the first name of Enzo was an anagram of Zone, Besson also affirmed his implicit hope that he would finally triumph over the Zone and lead the world of film art back into the daylight with THE BIG BLUE. It was a hope that was realized, for THE BIG BLUE was a very moving and inspirational film and box office smash that propelled Besson into the top ranks of world film artists.
Significantly, however, despite this success, Besson, Bouise, Ledoux, Reno, Serra and cinematographer Thierry Arbogast left behind the heady and mystic transcendence and oneness with the universal cinematic ocean and its fickle dolphin audiences of THE BIG BLUE and implicitly and indignantly replied to Bigelow for being a woman who would create such a gleefully and unabashedly dark, demented and violent film as NEAR DARK and do it well in the equally violent and Ozian themed allegorical film, LA FEMME NIKITA (1990).
‘But if we work hard together, and if fortune smiles on us,
we’ll be able to make you into a human being.
An intermediary but necessary step before becoming
man’s perfect complement: a woman.’
Significantly, the opening shot of a camera moving over the water and gas streaked pavement of a road at night was in complete contrast to the opening shot of a camera flying over a sunlit body of blue water at the beginning of THE BIG BLUE, implying that Besson’s mood had changed drastically since the successful release of THE BIG BLUE. Due implicitly to the release of NEAR DARK, for when the camera soon panned up, we saw Anne Parillaud’s implicitly Bigelow, Dorothy and Helena linked street punkette, Nikita-as lean, confident, fearless, creative, original and violence loving as Bigelow, affirming her implicit link to Bigelow-being literally led astray by the implicitly Scarecrow linked Rico, the implicitly Cowardly Lion linked Antoine/Coyotte, the implicitly Tin Man linked and axe wielding Zap and their unconscious and implicitly Dorothy linked female companion-played by Marc Duret, Patrick Fontana, Alain Lathiere and Laura Cheron, respectively. The sight evoked that of Mae being led astray by her fellow vampire gang members Diamondback, Jesse, Homer, Severen-played by Jenette Goldstein, Lance Henriksen, Joshua Miller and Bill Paxton, respectively-in NEAR DARK. And literally led astray, as her three equally stoned and disharmonious Ozian companions broke into the pharmacy of Antoine’s implicitly Great Oz linked father-played by Jacques Boudet-on a desperate hunt for drugs. As computer generated imagery (CGI) was increasingly the ‘drug’ of choice for film artists by 1990 so as to prevent any more horrific film set disasters and to allow film art to escape the Twilight Zone, it was possible that Besson was symbolically roasting the new emphasis on CGI by film artists in this sequence.
At any rate, the pharmacy break-in led to a raging tornado of a shootout with Parisienne police that evoked an equally violent shootout between the outlaw vampire gang and Kansas police officers midway through NEAR DARK, reaffirming the film’s implicit interest in addressing that film, and that ended with the shooting deaths of two twilit trios of three officers and Antoine/Coyotte, Rico and Zap. However, unlike their American colleagues in NEAR DARK, the Paris police won this shootout, leading to more elemental Ozian disharmony for Nikita in the form of her arrest, conviction and incarceration and banishment to a Black Castle of a prison. Curiously, here Nikita’s death was faked, and she ‘died’ like all implicit Wicked Witches of the East in order to open the gates to the healing elemental and Ozian dream, and she was ‘reborn’ and given a chance to escape imprisonment and redeem herself by being trained o be a beautiful femme fatale assassin and Good Wicked Witch of the West for a top secret French government agency. By patiently working her rough and ready side out of her and getting Jeanne Moreau’s implicitly Glinda the Good linked Amande to transform Nikita into that perfect complement of a man: a woman, which was implicitly Besson’s way of petulantly pouting that Bigelow was also too rough and ready and had to be transformed into a proper female film artist who didn’t make gleefully and unabashedly dark and demented film art like NEAR DARK. Significantly, this training was overseen by Tcheky Karyo’s implicitly Scarecrow linked Bob, whose resemblance to Caleb in NEAR DARK reaffirmed the implicit interest in that film in LA FEMME NIKITA. Curiously, this government assassin training noticeably anticipated a future allegorical Besson film, for on the wall of her windowless cell of a room was in the secret agency was a poster of HEAVY METAL contributor Richard Corben’s cover of the Meatloaf album, BAT OUT OF HELL (1977).
While resigned to her fate as a mayhem causing ‘little monkey girl’-given that her name evoked Pat Walshe’s Nikko, the monkey king servant of Margaret Hamilton’s Wicked Witch of the West in THE WIZARD OF OZ-Nikita despised her violent assignments and did her best to hold on to and maintain her humanity throughout the film. Leading her to eventually flee her brutal existence after the last botched and unusually violent assignment that saw Reno’s Victor-his name evoking Fleming and Morrow-being called in to take over and complete the last mission of Nikita like a new director or studio exec being called in to take a film away from a film artist that had gone over budget and schedule, a violent sight that implied that Besson felt that Bigelow would fail if she tried to do a really big film. Nikita also left her lover, Marco-played by Anglade, linked again to the Tin Man like his character Roller in SUBWAY, a film that had also implicitly addressed Bigelow in the form of Helena, thus implicitly reaffirming that Besson was again addressing Bigelow in the form of Nikita. Nikita’s flight appeared to be Besson’s implicit way of saying that he felt that the stress of being a successful film artist would eventually get to Bigelow, causing her to leave the world of allegorical film art for a less stressful existence. After all, film art was best left to the guys, wasn’t it?
An implicit message that was ignored by Bigelow, as the tall, calm, confident, commanding, fearless, creative, original and independent Bigelow was still going strong to this day. In fact, how fitting that the year of the release of LA FEMME NIKITA was coincidentally also the year of the release of the allegorical and implicitly Landis bashing Bigelow film, BLUE STEEL (1990), given that the sight of the implicitly Bigelow linked NYPD Officer-and Detective-Megan A. Turner remaining in the NYPD at the end of the film despite the stress of her job and the misgivings of male officers was such a strong rebuttal of the end of LA FEMME NIKITA that made it implicitly clear that Bigelow was committed to remaining in the ranks of elite film artists come hell or high water regardless of what her male colleagues thought about anything. Indeed, to make that point clear, Bigelow followed BLUE STEEL with her most macho and hyper-thyroid film to date, the implicitly Besson and Lynch addressing allegorical film, POINT BREAK (1991), a film that Besson implicitly replied to when he collaborated again with Arbogast, Ledoux, Reno and Serra on the Ozian themed film, LEON: THE PROFESSIONAL (1994).
‘You saved my life, so you must have saved it for a good reason.’
Significantly, the film began with the camera flying over water and then Central Park. This beginning evoked the flying over water beginning of THE BIG BLUE and the driving over pavement beginning of LA FEMME NIKITA, linking LEON: THE PROFESSIONAL to those films. Intriguingly, flying over trees also evoked the similar beginning of the twilit and allegorical Landis film, COMING TO AMERICA (1988), implying that Besson was addressing Landis in the film. Then the camera drove through the streets of New York City to a Little Italy neighborhood and an Italian restaurant named Guido’s. Here Reno’s film art and milk luvin’ and implicitly Landis linked lone terminator for hire, Leon McGuffin met in a back room with Danny Aiello’s implicitly Lynch linked Tony about a job. The scene evoked the replicant Leon Kowalski-played by Brion James-being interviewed by a Blade Runner named Dave Holden-played by Morgan Paull-at the beginning of BLADE RUNNER in a tenth anniversary nod to that film that implied that Tony symbolized Sir Scott. Significantly, Tony sent McGuffin out on a mission to make the implicitly Coppola linked Mr. Jones-played by Frank Senger-an offer he couldn’t refuse. Significantly, the sight of McGuffin taking out the bodyguards of Mr. Jones before making that offer evoked the sight of Reno’s Victor arriving like a replacement director to try to set Nikita’s final mission straight at the end of LA FEMME NIKITA. This linked both films together again, implying that Besson was continuing his Bigelow scolding theme in LEON: THE PROFESSIONAL.
This implication was soon affirmed when a group of DEA ‘agents’ showed up at the apartment building McGuffin had holed up in and shot the implicitly Lucas linked drug dealer, Mr. Lando-played by the fittingly surnamed Michael Badalucco-and his family to death. For the DEA ‘agents’ evoked the outlaw surfer gangs of POINT BREAK, a link to that film that was reaffirmed by the fact that they were led by Gary Oldman’s Cameron resembling Agent Norman Stansfield, and that one of the members of the gang, Willy Blood-played by Willy One Blood-resembled Bigelow, reminding us that Cameron was the executive producer of POINT BREAK. Thus, the fact that the lone Leon rescued the only survivor of the Lando family massacre, the sweet and implicitly Dorothy linked Mathilda Lando-played by Natalie Portman-spent the rest of the film protecting her, and ultimately died saving her after killing Louis and the Wicked Stansfield implied that Besson hoped that LEON: THE PROFESSIONAL would defeat Bigelow and Cameron, exorcise POINT BREAK and bring harmony back to the Temple Theatre, allowing a new generation of film art to live in the Nineties. An implication reaffirmed by the sight of Mathilda safely ensconced with Betty Miller’s Margaret Hamilton evoking headmistress, Marguerite McCallister, at the Spencer School in Wildwood, New Jersey at the end of the film, for the name of the school for troubled girls evoked Spencer Tracey and film art.
Significantly, Besson reaffirmed this implicit hope and helped kick off the new era of film art and implicitly addressed Lucas again when he teamed up again with Arbogast, Ledoux and Serra to rise again to the heady depths and heights of THE BIG BLUE and to prove in their first big and CGI enhanced film that they had the heavy mettle indeed to give the world a one way ticket out of the twilight so as to implicitly help return a scintillating new Skyrocking spirit to the Temple Theatre-and one even more daylit, hopeful, exuberant and CGI enhanced than ever before, in the twentieth anniversary year of the release of STAR WARS EPISODE IV: A NEW HOPE to reboot-with the wholly remarkable, truly fantastic and Ozian themed allegorical film, THE FIFTH ELEMENT (1997).
Curiously, the film began hurtling through space and over asteroids, evoking the flying over water beginning of THE BIG BLUE, the hurtling over pavement beginning of LA FEMME NIKITA, and the flying over water and Central Park beginning of LEON: THE PROFESSIONAL, immediately linking THE FIFTH ELEMENT to those films. Perhaps hurtling towards Earth, for the scene soon shifted to a biomechanical Mondoshowan spaceship arriving in orbit over Earth. From orbit, we fell down to an Egyptian Temple Theatre in 1914, evoking the Well of Souls and the Temple holding the Lost Ark of the Covenant in the Lucas executive produced and allegorical Spielberg film, RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK (1981), linking the beginning of THE FIFTH ELEMENT to the Last Good Year of film before the TZ disaster. A Lucas lookalike Egyptian boy named Aziz-played by Said Talidi-helping John Bluthal’s Peter Ustinov evoking Professor Pacoli illuminate the meaning of some mysterious hieroglyphics on one of the inner temple walls also immediately reaffirmed that Besson was addressing Lucas yet again in THE FIFTH ELEMENT. Pacoli’s translation of the mysterious hieroglyphics-‘...when the three planets are in eclipse, a black hole like a door is opened, Evil comes, spreading terror and chaos...’-was also important, for the interpretation reminded us of the three victims of the TZ disaster, and that Evil, chaos and anger had been gripping audiences and Temple Theatres since the disaster. Significantly, this mysterious inscription also evoked a similar mysterious and prophetic inscription on a wall in the allegorical Jim Henson and Frank Oz film, THE DARK CRYSTAL (1982), an inscription that prophesied that ‘…when single shines the triple sun, what was sundered and undone shall be whole’, openly linking THE FIFTH ELEMENT to the twilit and disastrous year of 1982.
Of course, Pacoli’s translation also evoked ‘...a shadow shall fall over the universe, and Evil will grow in its path, and death will come from the skies’, the eerily prescient opening voiceover-by Percy Rodrigues?-that ominously anticipated the TZ disaster that was heard at the beginning of the allegorical Reitman executive produced and Gerald Potterton hand-animated film, HEAVY METAL: THE MOVIE (1981). The voiceover prepared audiences for the arrival of the carnol and blockbuster mayhem obsessed Loc-nar, a dread and insidious ball of gloating Evil discovered in another desert by another professor at the beginning of HEAVY METAL: THE MOVIE, thus preparing audiences for the arrival of another insidious ball of Evil in THE FIFTH ELEMENT. This link reminded us that HEAVY METAL: THE MOVIE was based on an American adult sly fi/fantasy magazine called HEAVY METAL, that was in turn a mostly translated edition of the original French adult sly fi/fantasy magazine, METAL HURLANT. Thus, the link of THE FIFTH ELEMENT to HEAVY METAL: THE MOVIE implicitly reaffirmed that Besson was obsessing over the events of the early Eighties in THE FIFTH ELEMENT and reminding audiences that HEAVY METAL started off as METAL HURLANT, s’il vous plait. The link to HEAVY METAL: THE MOVIE also prepared viewers for the HEAVY METAL: THE MOVIE inspired hijinks to come, including the speedy arrival of another ball of insidious Evil to rival the dread and carnol Loc-nar-and a new legendary heroine and cynical taxi driver to defeat the new ball of Evil. Indeed, Besson underlined the link of THE FIFTH ELEMENT to METAL HURLANT, HEAVY METAL, and HEAVY METAL: THE MOVIE by having legendary METAL HURLANT/HEAVY METAL artist/writer and uncredited HEAVY METAL: THE MOVIE contributor Jean ‘Moebius’ Giraud help with the design of THE FIFTH ELEMENT.
The mysterious hieroglyphics translated by Professor Pacoli also mentioned the existence of a being-a Fifth Element?-that would be centred between the four elements every five thousand years so as to destroy Evil, preparing us for the arrival of the embodied Fifth Element. The existence of this Fifth Elemental being was quickly confirmed by the arrival at the temple of the biomechanical and extraterrestrial Mondoshowans, their name linking them to world cinema. Significantly, the arrival of the Mondoshowans was heralded by John Bennett’s temple Priest with the words ‘...they’re here!’, the most famous line of the Spielberg co-produced and co-written Tobe Hooper allegorical film, POLTERGEIST (1982), openly affirming the implicit link of the film to 1982. The Mondoshowans reaffirmed their link to the fantastic films of the Seventies and Eighties, for their huge biomechanical bodies evoked the equally huge H.R. Giger designed biomechanical and Wicked Alien of the West in Sir Scott’s allegorical, blockbuster beast bashing and Ozian themed film, ALIEN (1979), and the alien hordes in ALIENS. The brown, blocky bodies and shambling, side to side gait of the Mondoshowans also evoked E.T., THE EXTRATERRESTRIAL, reaffirming the film’s interest in Spielberg and the twilit and disastrous events of 1982.
Indeed, one of the Mondoshowans soon opened a secret door in the wall of the temple with the mysterious hierogylphics with a key hidden in its right forefinger, a right forefinger that evoked the healing right forefinger of E.T. The opening of the secret door revealed a hidden chamber containing the four elements, which were boxed up and taken by the Mondoshowans with a promise that they would be returned for use in three hundred years when they would be needed by the embodied Fifth Element to combat and defeat Evil in the 23rd century, a fitting choice of century as it evoked the 23rd day of July of 1982 of the TZ disaster. The departure of the Mondoshowans with the stones-stones that recalled the equally legendary Sankara stones of INDIANA JONES AND THE TEMPLE OF DOOM-and the embodied statue of the Fifth Element also evoked E.T., THE EXTRATERRESTRIAL For, like E.T., one Mondoshowan was accidentally trapped and left behind in the hidden chamber when the secret door closed by mistake, leaving only the Mondoshowan’s finger to stick out and give up its right forefinger key to the temple Priest who promised to pass it on to other priests so as to be ready to reopen the hidden chamber when returned did the embodied Fifth Element. The camera then focussed on a part of the mysterious hieroglyphics that saw an intersection of circles and triangles that symbolized the twilit eclipse of the three planets and directors.
Suddenly, the hieroglyphics turned into a similar digital graphic on a television screen that was monitoring something circular, a primitive graphic that recalled the similarly primitive CGI seen throughout the STAR WARS Classic Trilogy and the allegorical Steven Lisberger film, TRON (1982), reiterating the implicit film’s interest in Lucas and the twilit and disastrous events of 1982. Shifting to a point of view (POV) in deep space outside a Star Destroyer-like spaceship-the one presumably containing the computer monitors that we had just been looking at-an intertitle told us that we were now three hundred years in the future in the twenty-third century that the Mondoshowans promised would see the coming of an Evil so insidious that it would necessitate the arrival of the promised and legendary Fifth Element and the return of the stones containing the four elements so as to combat and defeat that Evil. On cue, we noticed that the neo-Star Destroyer was moving in on and monitoring a sinister ball of pure CGI enhanced Evil floating in space like a huge CGI Loc-nar.
The allusion to the carnol Loc-nar reminded us that the insidious and malicious green floating ball was defeated in the end by the pure and legendary heroine Taarna, the literal embodiment of hand-animated film art, who was summoned from the realm of legend to a distant planet to free it from the Evil grip of the carnol Loc-nar in the concluding ‘Taarna’ episode of HEAVY METAL: THE MOVIE. This ending had implied that Potterton and Reitman wanted to free New Hollywood filmmakers from the equally carnal, commercial and blockbuster lusts that began taking over New Hollywood film in the late Seventies and early Eighties, so as to keep film art on the heady and artistic path that it had embraced in the late Sixties and early Seventies. Thus, by bringing the Loc-nar back from the dead, Besson implicitly affirmed that he was on a similar quest in THE FIFTH ELEMENT to warn filmmakers away from creating artless, mindless and money obsessed CGI enhanced blockbusters in the new digital age with a higher minded and CGI enhanced allegorical film with a new legendary heroine who was the embodiment of CGI enhanced film art.
Significantly, Besson also implied that he wanted Lucas and not himself to return and lead the CGI enhanced film art charge into the new millennium. For just as the neo-Locnar ball of Evil engulfed the neo-Star Destroyer with its Evil essence-evoking the sight and sound of V’ger engulfing a Federation starship at the beginning of the allegorical Robert Wise telefilm, STAR TREK: THE MOTION PICTURE (1979), in another link of the THE FIFTH ELEMENT to the films of the Seventies and Eighties-a jumpcut introduced the implicitly Fire and Cowardly Lion linked Korben Dallas-played by Bruce Willis-waking up from a terrible nightmare at two in the early morning of March 18, 2263 in his tiny apartment in the South Brooklyn of in the future Emerald City of New York. Here we soon discovered that Dallas was not just a flying taxi driver who evoked the world weary and Richard Romanus voiced New York flying taxi driver Harry Canyon in the ‘Harry Canyon’ episode of HEAVY METAL: THE MOVIE. We also discovered that Dallas was an ex-Major and space fighter pilot in the planetary space force and brooding bachelor whose wife had run off with his lawyer, reminding us that at this point in time Lucas was an ex-Jedi film artist and brooding bachelor whose wife had run off with a stain glass artisan who had helped create his private Skywalker Ranch film facility outside San Francisco, implicitly linking Dallas to Lucas. Indeed, the surname of Dallas reminded us of the implicitly Lucas linked Captain Dallas-played by Tom Skerritt-in ALIEN, affirming the implicit link of Dallas to Lucas. His first name, Korben, implicitly affirmed his link to an American film artist, for it recalled the surname of American Grand Master Richard Corben, whose work at the time and to this day was fittingly featured in HEAVY METAL and HEAVY METAL: THE MOVIE.
Curiously, soon after making his lonely and miserable appearance, Dallas was desperately trying to save CGI enhanced film art in the symbolic form of Milla Jovovich’s implicitly Dorothy linked Leeloominai-aka Leeloo-and the world from being consumed by the neo-Locnar. For Leeloo arrived on the scene in 23rd century New York after being recreated in humanoid form in an elaborate CGI sequence in a Nucleolab from her right hand, all that remained of her body after the destruction of her spaceship on the way to Earth by gleefully destructive alien warriors called Mangalores-who evoked the equally destructive gremlins of the Kennedy, Marshall and Spielberg executive produced and allegorical Dante film, GREMLINS (1984). Thus, this CGI reconstruction literally made her the embodiment of CGI enhanced film art. And the film’s Taarna, for like Taarna, Leeloo was also a legendary extraterrestrial heroine-fittingly, the Fifth Element, of the Mondoshowan world cinema race-come to rescue a new distant planet and free it from Evil. On top of also being linked to Dorothy and Carrie Fisher’s implicitly Dorothy linked Princess Leia Organna in the STAR WARS Classic Trilogy, Leeloo’s red hair, youth and beauty evoked the equally young and beautiful red haired damsel in distress voiced by Susan Roman in the ‘Harry Canyon’ segment of HEAVY METAL: THE MOVIE, and the equally indomitable E. Johnson of CHERRY 2000. In addition, her initial inability to talk evoked the initial inability to talk of the implicitly Dorothy linked Madison the mermaid in SPLASH, while her love of scanty clothing evoked Jane Fonda’s implicitly Dorothy linked Barbarella in the allegorical, Ozian themed and satirical Roger Vadim film, BARBARELLA (1968).
Soon after she was digitally recreated, Leeloo fell into the back seat of the flying taxi cab of Dallas when she escaped from the Nucleolab by throwing herself off a ledge on the side of the building. This fall reaffirmed the implicit link of Dallas to Lucas, for it reminded us that a patient-Kathleen Wilhoite‘s Michelle-threw herself out of the window of the New York skyscraper office of the implicitly Lucas linked psychiatrist, Doctor William ‘Bill’ Capa-also played by Willis-at the beginning of the allegorical and implicitly Lynch roasting Richard Rush film, COLOR OF NIGHT (1994). Deciding to help Leeloo, Dallas managed to escape the bumbling and pursuing police in their flying cars, their tragicomic exploits recalling the equally bumbling robot police officers of the allegorical Lucas film, THX 1138 (1971), and the equally bumbling Modesto police officers of the allegorical Lucas film, AMERICAN GRAFITTI (1973), in two more nods to Lucas that reaffirmed the implicit Lucas addressing intent of THE FIFTH ELEMENT. Then Dallas and Leeloo set off on a madcap and tragicomic quest to find and retrieve the four stones containing the power of the four elements, so as to take them back to the hidden chamber in the Egyptian Temple Theatre in order to channel the power of the four elements and use it to destroy the carnol neo-Loc-nar before its insidious and all consuming Evil could engulf Earth.
This desperate quest was aided by the arrival of three more helpful companions who were openly linked to the rest of the four elements and to Dorothy’s three other helpful companions in THE WIZARD OF OZ. Significantly, the link of Leeloo’s four companions to the four elements finally and openly confirmed for the first time that the four helpful companions of Dorothy had always been linked to the four elements, going back to the allegorical L. Frank Baum children’s story, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (1900). This elemental Ozian foursome were the implicitly Earth and Scarecrow linked priest, David-played by Charlie Creed-Miles; the implicitly Fire and Cowardly Lion linked Korben Dallas-his name evoking Nikita’s BAT OUT OF HELL album cover by Richard Corben, a HEAVY METAL and HEAVY METAL: THE MOVIE contributor, and Tom Skerrit’s Captain Dallas in ALIEN; the garrulous, intergalactic Wolfman Jack evoking and implicitly Air and Great Oz linked Radio Cosmos DJ, Ruby Rhod-played by Chris Tucker; and the old, Ben Obi Wan Kenobi evoking and implicitly Water and Tin Man linked Father Vito Cornelius-played by Ian Holm, who evoked Jedi Knight Ben Obi Wan Kenobi-played by Alec Guiness-in the STAR WARS Classic Trilogy, and who openly linked the film to ALIEN via his role as Ash the android in that film.
Significantly, the involvement of Dallas in the adventure was ensured by the implicitly Cameron linked General Munro-played by James, who linked the film openly to the twilit and disastrous summer of ’82 via his role as Leon in BLADE RUNNER, and to CHERRY 2000 via his bit part as a small time post-apocalyptic scoundrel named Stacy in that film. Indeed, the General was able to persuade Dallas, the despondent ex-Major in the Space Corps, to agree to help Leeloo save the world, in a way that reminded us that another ex-Major in the Space Corps named Wolff-played by Peter Strauss-was also persuaded to undertake a hazardous mission, aided by another attractive young redhead, this one named Niki rather than Leeloo-played by Molly Ringwald-to rescue a twilit trio of beautiful space tourists trapped on planet Terra XI-and hence help viewers triumph over the TZ disaster and its three victims-in SPACEHUNTER: ADVENTURES IN THE FORBIDDEN ZONE. Indeed, the tourista trio’s link to the TZ disaster was confirmed by the fact that one was named Reena-played by Aleisa Shirley-evoking Renee Chen, the girl killed in the TZ disaster.
Along the Yellow Brick way, Leeloo and the Fab Four blasted off to the space cruise ship that orbited the vacation planet of Fhloston Paradise like Jabba’s sail barge to retrieve the four elemental stones from Maiwenn’s implicitly Glinda the Good linked space opera singer, Diva Plavalaguna, before they were taken by the mayhem and destruction loving Mangalores. The fact that the stones were inside the Diva were important, as it reminded us that with an Earthy body, a Fiery heart, a brain floating in the skull’s Watery cerebrospinal fluid, and an Airy soul, all of us were fusions of the four elements and Fifth Elemental beings, as much as Leeloo. The fact that Diva Plavalaguna the Good was also a blue skinned being who looked like a cross between the alien of ALIEN, the Mike Quinn performed Sy Snootles of STAR WARS EPISODE VI: RETURN OF THE JEDI, a human and a dolphin evoked THE BIG BLUE and Mayol’s acceptance by the wary and suspicious dolphin audience members, in the end. The elemental and Ozian foursome and the embodied Fifth Element also desperately fought off Oldman’s implicitly Landis, Marshall and Spielberg linked ubercorporate Evildoer, Jean-Baptiste Emanuel Zorg, a human baddie so obsessed with a Zorgy of alienating and inhuman corporate profits that he foolishly collaborated not only with the Mangalores, but also with the neo-Loc-nar, implicitly reaffirming that Besson was warning film artists in THE FIFTH ELEMENT not to become too obsessed with the Evil blockbuster profits for fear of losing sight of the higher nature of film art in the CGI enhanced era and causing any more fatal film set disasters.
After defeating the Mangalores, and after the foolish and greedy Zorg killed himself in the explosion of his own blockbuster bomb, the Ozian heroes brought the film full healing and harmonizing circle by bringing the four elemental stones back to the hidden chamber in the Egyptian Temple Theatre seen in the prologue of the film. Here the four elemental stones were placed and activated in their four separate stone pillars by the character that embodied that element, and then Leeloo and Dallas, standing on a platform between them, declared their love for each other, an exultant crazy love that turned out to be what was needed for the CGI enhanced lightsaber evoking fource of the four elements to pour into Leeloo and be channelled into the atmosphere above Earth, allowing Good CGI to stop the insidious, blockbuster lusting and carnol neo-Loc-nar in its Evil CGI path before it engulfed Earth, in a blast of awe inspiring and liberating power that evoked the end of THE DARK CRYSTAL and the power that exploded out of the Ark of the Covenant at the end of RAIDERS OF THE LOST ARK, the Last Good Year of film art.
Thus, given that Dallas and Leeloo were implicitly linked to Lucas and his film art throughout THE FIFTH ELEMENT, Besson implied his hope that Lucas would soon return to the Temple Theatre with a truly fantastic CGI enhanced film that cleansed the universe, brought harmony back to audiences and the Temple Theatre and kicked off a Skryocking new era of TZ disaster free CGI enhanced film art. Indeed, the film’s final scene reaffirmed this implicit new hope. For THE FIFTH ELEMENT ended with Dallas and Leeloo a loving couple back in the Nucleolab chamber where Leeloo was recreated in humanoid form, closing lovemaking that evoked similar ambiguous and androgenous love scenes between LUH 3417 and THX 1138-played by Maggie McOmie and Robert Duvall, respectively-in THX 1138. Significantly, this new hope that Lucas would return to cleanse the universe was not uncommon at the time, for Bigelow and Cameron, Tim Burton and Sir Scott implied the same hope in their twilit and allegorical films, STRANGE DAYS (1995), MARS ATTACKS! (1996) and G. I. JANE (1997). A brave new and TZ disaster free era of CGI enhanced film art that Besson would be a significant part of, as THE FIFTH ELEMENT was a truly fantastic and wholly remarkable film that amply affirmed that Besson was now indeed the Daulphin of world film art.
Significantly, and perhaps inspired by the two occasions when the determined and indomitable SEAL trainee, Lt. Jordan O’Neil-played by Demi Moore-was sarcastically compared to Joan of Arc in G. I. JANE, Besson exchanged a legendary extraterrestrial heroine for a legendary human heroine when he teamed up again with Arbogast, Jovovich, Karyo, Ledoux and Serra to create his next twilit and allegorical film, THE MESSENGER (1999).
‘You, who claim to be my judges, you be careful!
For you too one day will be judged.’
Curiously, the opening English attack on the village of the young Joan of Arc-played by Jane Valentine-which led to Joan watching the murderous rape of her sister, Catherine-played by Framboise Commendy-did not just evoke the opening attack on the Cimmerian village of the young Conan-played by Jorge Sanz-by the Dark Forces of the implicitly Lucas linked Thulsa Doom-played by James E. Jones-at the beginning of the allegorical and implicitly Lucas roasting John Milius film, CONAN THE BARBARIAN (1982), linking THE MESSENGER to the year of the TZ disaster. For the murderous rape of Catherine also evoked the murderous rape of the implicitly Sofia Coppola linked Shelly Webster-played by Sofia Sania-partly seen by Brandon Lee’s implicitly Bigelow linked Eric Draven in twilit and allegorical Bigelow film, THE CROW (1994), as well as the murderous rape of Iris by Peltier captured on SQUID playback in the Cameron co-written and co-produced and twilit and allegorical Bigelow film, STRANGE DAYS (1995), implying that Besson was roasting Bigelow again as in LA FEMME NIKITA in THE MESSENGER. Indeed, the appearance of Karyo as Dunois implied as such, reminding us that Karyo had played Nikita’s mentor, Bob, at the secret French government agency in LA FEMME NIKITA.
However, the name of Dunois evoked DUNE, implying that the real target of the film was Lynch. This implication that THE MESSENGER was really addressing Lynch was affirmed by the scene in a crowded castle chamber in Chinon that quickly followed the opening battle that introduced Charles VII-played by John Malkovich-and saw him nervously awaiting the arrival of the older and visionary Joan-played by Jovovich-while wearing a Fremen stillsuit-like coat. For the scene evoked the similarly crowded scene inside the throne room of the Imperial palace at Kaitain at the beginning of DUNE that saw Jose Ferrer’s Padishah Emperor Shaddam IV awaiting with equal trepidation the arrival of a Third Stage Spacing Guild Navigator. The resemblance of the mother-in-law and adviser of Charles VII, Yolande of Aragon-played by Faye Dunaway-to the Bene Gesserit adviser to Emperor Shaddam IV, Reverend Mother Gaius Helen Mohiam-played by Sian Phillips–reaffirmed the film’s link to DUNE and implicit interest in Lynch.
The resemblance of the visionary Joan to Sheryl Lee’s equally visionary Laura Palmer in the twilit and allegorical Lynch moving painting tele-series, TWIN PEAKS (1990-91) and the twilit and allegorical Lynch moving painting, TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME (1997), also affirmed the implicit Lynch addressing intent of THE MESSENGER. Thus, the sight of the indomitable and eternal spirit of Joan living on despite being burned at the stake at the end of the film after she failed to lead the men of France to victory over the English and their Burgundian allies like a female Maud’dib implied the hope of Besson that Lynch’s moving painting film art would live on to fight another day after crashing and burning with the universally panned TWIN PEAKS: FIRE WALK WITH ME.
Significantly, Besson ignored Darren Aronofsky’s sarcastic roast of THE FIFTH ELEMENT in his allegorical film, REQUIEM FOR A DREAM (2000), and Sir Scott’s roast of Besson in the implicit form of Commendatore Rinaldo Pazzi-played by Giancarlo Giannini-of the Questura Di Firenze in his twilit and allegorical film, HANNIBAL (2001), and implicitly concentrated on Lucas again when he finally returned to theatres with Arbogast and Serra in his next allegorical and Ozian themed film, ARTHUR AND THE INVISIBLES (2006).
‘Your heart is your strongest weapon.’
Curiously, a brief prologue introduced us to Arthur and his grandmother-played by Freddie Highmore and Mia Farrow, respectively, the latter linked forever to the year of the release of TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE by her role as Dr. Eudora Nesbitt Fletcher in Woody Allen’s Landis blasting and brutally satirical allegorical masterpiece, ZELIG (1983)-and their desperate quest to find enough money in forty-eight hours to pay off Adam Lefevre’s vaguely Spielberg-like and money obsessed Davido and save the house and land of missing husband and grandfather, Archibald-who resembled an older Jolivet, and was played by Rob Crawford. The rest of the film then followed Arthur’s adventures in an Oz-like CGI wonderland filled with dimunitive and pixie-like Minoys caught in the twilit grip of the gleefully insidious and David Bowie voiced Maltazard the Evil, an evil character implicitly linked to Lucas as Bowie played the similarly insidious goblin king, Jareth, in the twilit, allegorical and Lucas executive produced Jim Henson film, LABYRINTH (1986), and by the fact that he looked a Neimoidian from the new STAR WARS Tragic Trilogy. Given that Arthur freed the Minoys from Maltazard’s twilit and Lucas linked grip, liberated Archibald from a jail in Maltazard’s Necropolis and returned with Archibald back to reality with a fortune in red rubies that evoked the ruby red slippers from THE WIZARD OF OZ that were just what were needed to pay off the money obsessed Davido and save the house and farm, Besson again implied that film art in general and his film art in particular would survive and triumph over the CGI menace of Lucas and his new STAR WARS Tragic Trilogy.
Indeed, by using CGI to literally transform Arthur into Art, a dimunitive CGI Minoy avatar, during his triumphant time in the land of the Minoys, Besson openly reaffirmed that his CGI enhanced film art for CGI enhanced film art’s sake would triumph over Lucas and anyone else like THE FIFTH ELEMENT had to reaffirm that he was indeed the Daulphin, in the defiant end. An commitment to the triumph of CGI enhanced film art for CGI enhanced film art’s sake over Lucas and other more commercially oriented film artists that implicitly continued when Besson returned with Arbogast and Serra in his next allegorical film, THE LADY (2011).
‘The fight goes on.’
Significantly, in many ways THE LADY was a fused sequel to THE FIFTH ELEMENT that explored the life of Korben and Leeloo after they saved the world, got married and struggled to deal with day to day married life, with a dash of THE MESSENGER thrown in for Good measure. For the Lynch resembling Dr. Michael Aris and Aung San Suu Kyi-played by David Thewlis and Michelle Yeoh, respectively-were forced to leave behind their quiet life in Oxford, England and travel like Leeloo to another world, the world of Burma, to save it and its people from the twilit and insidious grip of the Burmese military and its gleefully destructive and malicious human Mangalore soldiers. Here in Burma, Suu Kyi, the native Burmese and daughter of a respected and assassinated ex-leader of Burma as well as a modest and unassuming Oxford housewife, inspired her people to break free from military oppression and establish democracy in Burma like the simple and illiterate Joan inspired her people to defeat and break free from English military oppression. Significantly, unlike Joan of Arc, Suu Kyi was not foolishly killed by her people, in the end. Instead, it was Aris that died, of prostrate cancer, in the end. However, despite the loss of her English soul mate from another world, Suu Kyi remained in Burma, just as committed to freeing her people from tyranny as ever, and eventually succeeded. As Aris evoked Lynch and Suu Kyi evoked Joan and Leeloo, Besson implied that he was rallying to the defense of Lynch again, probably for the roasting Lynch received for his allegorical film, INLAND EMPIRE (2006), and assuring Lynch that his film art for film art’s sake moving paintings would triumph over, and still be remembered, long after more commercial film artists like Lucas and Spielberg had been forgotten. Indeed, allusions to INLAND EMPIRE affirmed the implicit intent of THE LADY.
Curiously, after the head and uplifting love and non-violence of THE LADY, Besson then went on with Arobgast to implicitly roast the Coppola film artist family in the darkly humourous and violent satire, THE FAMILY (2013)-with a soundtrack by Evgueni and Sacha Galperine-a lamentably inconsequential work given the combined talents and importance to film art of its targets. Then Besson returned with Arbogast and Serra and new producer and wife Virginie Besson-Silla to the heady heights of THE BIG BLUE, THE FIFTH ELEMENT, THE MESSENGER and THE LADY in his next allegorical film, LUCY (2014).
‘Ignorance breeds chaos, not knowledge. I’ll build a computer,
and download all my knowledge.’
Curiously, however, before it scaled those heady and transcendent heights, LUCY and its eponymous heroine, Lucy-played by Scarlet Johannson-were implicitly linked to Toronto and its film artists and film art throughout the film. Lucy’s link to Toronto and its film artists was immediately made right at the Taipei beginning of LUCY, with Taipei shot in a way to evoke Toronto, and Pilou Asbaek’s Richard, her cowboy hat wearing ‘friend’, evoking Toronto based film artist, Bruce McDonald. Unfortunately for Lucy, Richard took advantage of her naivety to get her turned into a drug mule for the extrasensory ability enhancing drug CPH4. Significantly, the drug was stored in a briefcase in four neon blue plastic packages, a briefcase opened with the three number combination 140. This evoked the case that held the four elements in THE FIFTH ELEMENT, preparing audiences for Lucy to be transformed from an implicitly normal Canuck into an indomitable fusion of Leeloo and Nikita when one of the drug packages began to leak when it was sewn inside her stomach. Evolving her and giving her extrasensory powers and the hyper-intuition that allowed her to fight off the gang members of the sad eyed, scruffy and unsmiling Taipei drug gang leader, Mr. Jang-played by Choi Min-Sik-who was implicitly linked to Sir Scott by the film’s many allusions to the allegorical Sir Scott films, BLACK RAIN (1989) and THE COUNSELOR (2013), and the allegorical Sir Scott and Tony Scott executive produced Kevin Macdonald film, LIFE IN A DAY (2010). Particularly THE COUNSELOR, a cynical film that implicitly warned the poor ol’ Gardevil that he was as naïve and foolish to get involved with Hollywood and TIFF as Michael Fassbender’s eponymous Counselor was to get involved with a Colombian drug cartel and the malignant and implicitly TIFF linked Malkina-her name meaning ‘bad kino’, and played by Cameron Diaz.
This battle with Mr. Jang and his gangsters for the four packages of CPH4 that evoked Leeloo’s battle with Zorg and the Mangalores for the four elements in THE FIFTH ELEMENT also led to more implicit links to Toronto and its film artists for Lucy. For the embattled Lucy was helped along in her fight by Morgan Freeman’s implicitly Cronenberg linked Doctor Samuel Norman, the American lecturer in neuroscience and evolution at a Paris university. Norman’s implicit link to Cronenberg was affirmed by the film’s obsession with evolved human beings capable of astounding feats of extrasensory powers, which evoked the equally evolved, extrasensory and ‘omnisexual’ humans of the films of Cronenberg, particularly the ‘super scanner’ Cameron Vale-who Johannson resembled-mentored by the Norman evoking Dr. Paul Ruth in SCANNERS. Indeed, SCANNERS was not only often alluded to in LUCY, Lucy was also linked to Vale, and CPH4 to the scanner inducing drug ephemerol-implicitly linked to the ephemeral fortune and glory lusted after by lesser film artists. Lucy’s ability to see into the past and future of other people as the film wore on, particularly when she touched them, reaffirmed the film’s implicit interest in Cronenberg, for it recalled similar abilities developed by John Smith-played by Christoper Walken-after a car accident in the twilit and allegorical Cronenberg film, THE DEAD ZONE (1983). The ending of LUCY reaffirmed the implicit interest in Cronenberg, for the sight of Lucy reaching her 100% evolved potential with the intravenous help of all four of the elemental bags of CPH4 jacked into her system at once-leaving her centred between them like Leeloo centred between the four elements at the end of THE FIFTH ELEMENT-and triumphing over Mr. Jang evoked the triumph of Vale over Michael Ironside’s implicitly Lucas linked Darryl Revok at the equally extrasensory end of SCANNERS. As the triumph over Mr. Jang and his Jangalores was accomplished with the help of CGI, Lucy, like Leeloo, also symbolized the brave new world of CGI enhanced film art. A brave new world of CGI enhanced film art that Besson was now more confident would succeed, given that Lucy, unlike Leeloo, did not need anyone else’s help to defeat Mr. Jang and his Jangalores.
Significantly, prior to defeating the Jangbangers, a visionary sequence saw Lucy travel to Paris, then New York, a New York that then travelled back in time to the late nineteenth century and the first years of film art. This link to Paris and then New York evoked the inimitable Franco-American film style of Besson, implying that Lucy symbolized the film art of Besson. However, Lucy had already been linked to the film art of Cronenberg and McDonald in particular, and of Toronto in general. So, did Lucy symbolize the film art of Besson, Cronenberg, McDonald, Toronto, or just film art in general? Or, given that after Lucy became more human than human, she defeated Mr. Jang and his gang with knowledge rather than with extrasensory Force at the end of SCANNERS, or with a liberating explosion of the conjunction of the four elements as at the end of THE FIFTH ELEMENT, was Lucy implicitly linked to myself, implying that Besson hoped that I would finally get rid of all of the mistakes that plagued this website so that www.zonewarsonfilm.com would finally achieve its full potential to vanquish Evil film artists, end the dread allegorical Zone Wars, free Chen, Le and Morrow from the Zone forever, and set off a whole new era of heady, enlightened and CGI enhanced allegorical film art. Indeed, given that the ending of LUCY evoked the ending of the allegorical Kimberly Peirce film, CARRIE (2013), which saw Chloe G. Moretz’s implicitly Wright linked Carrie White wiping out antagonists implicitly linked to Evil film artists with her extrasensory and CGI enhanced powers, it was probable that Besson linked Lucy to Gary in LUCY. An implicit interest in Toronto, its film artists and film scholars that implicitly continued when Besson returned with Arbogast, Besson-Silla, costume designer Olivier Beriot and production designer Patrice Garcia-and with visual effects again by ILM, who had provided them for LUCY, and a soundtrack by Alexandre Desplat-to prove that he had the heavy mettle to top THE FIFTH ELEMENT and help usher in that brave new world of heady, enlightened, liberated and CGI enhanced film art hoped for at the end of LUCY in the fully digital, CGI enhanced and truly higher minded and fantastic allegorical film, VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS (2017), fittingly released in the twentieth anniversary year of THE FIFTH ELEMENT.
‘Our daughter made a good choice.’
Indeed, an implicit link to Ontario, and, hence, Toronto and its film art and artists was immediately made in the prologue of VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS. For as the Alpha space station-city was created in orbit above Earth over the decades with the help of terrestrials and extraterrestrials and the credits rolled, played was the allegorical David Bowie song, ‘Space Oddity’ (1969). The song reminded us that Ontario born and raised Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield famously filmed himself strumming the guitar and singing ‘Space Oddity’ on his last trip to the International Space Station, implicitly linking the film and Alpha to Ontario and its film art, artists and scholars. And in Landis and the TZ disaster, for Bowie played the implicitly Landis linked John in the allegorical Scott film, THE HUNGER (1983), released the same year as TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE. The presence of Rutger Hauer as the President of the World State Federation who sent Alpha on its flight across the galaxy when it became too big to orbit Earth reaffirmed the film’s implicit interest in the twilit and disastrous year of 1982, as Hauer played replicant leader Roy Batty in BLADE RUNNER.
Fittingly, a link to THE FIFTH ELEMENT was also immediately made by Besson at the beginning of VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS, for the sight of the Alpha space station-city being assembled in orbit around Earth reminded us that THE FIFTH ELEMENT also began in orbit around Earth with the arrival of the biomechanical Mondoshowan spaceship. An implicit link to the Mondoshowans made by the arrival at Alpha of another biomechanical spaceship carrying an extraterrestrial race called the Kortan Dahuk, soon followed by an alien race called the Mirrors that resembled the Mondoshowans. This link implied that Besson was using VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS in part to comment on how far CGI enhanced film art had come since the release of THE FIFTH ELEMENT in 1997.
And implicitly how far CGI enhanced film art had fallen, for soon after the Alpha space station-divided into four elemental sections in an open allusion to the equally and openly elemental nature of THE FIFTH ELEMENT-was sent off into space to be an intergalactic Emerald City of a Thousand Planets due to the fact that it had become too huge to orbit Earth as a result of intergalactic immigration, we found ourselves on the peaceful, mystic, transcendent and paradise-like all CGI planet of Mul-which was ‘Lum’ spelt backwards, evoking Lumiere, one of the first French film artists. A fitting link to French film artists, for the planet implicitly symbolized the brave new world of CGI enhanced film art. Significantly, the planet Mul was destroyed and its CGI citizens, the Pearl, mostly killed-including Sasha Luss’ Leeloo evoking Princess Liho-when it became caught up in a brutal space battle, a planetary destruction due to space warfare that perhaps symbolized the belief of Besson that the dread allegorical Zone Wars had prevented the full and triumphant arrival of a Zone free and daylit era of CGI enhanced film art after 1997. If so, Besson implicitly believed that the daylit era of CGI enhanced film art would still arrive, as the film’s heroes, Major Valerian and Sergeant Laureline-played by Dane DeHaan and Cara Delevingne, respectively-managed to help the mystic and transcendent Pearl survivors of Mul recreate their brave new CGI world by the end of the film. A brave new CGI world that recalled the brave new CGI world of Genesis in the allegorical Nicholas Meyer film, STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN (1982), a link to the twilit and disastrous year of 1982 affirmed by Valerian and Laureline’s exo-space traversing spaceship, the Intruder XB982.
Significantly, a Lynch resembling General Okto-Bar-played by Sam Spruell, who had also played the implicitly Lynch linked Jamie in THE COUNSELOR-helped Valerian and Laureline fight off the insidious Commander Arun Filitt-played by Clive Owen-and save Alpha and the surviving Mul, and, hence, CGI enhanced digifilm art, in another sympathetic nod to Lynch in a Besson film. Valerian and Laureline were also linked to Cronenberg and, hence, Toronto film art and artists again. For the final desperate work to recreate the brave new world of CGI took place in a dead red zone in the fifth elemental centre of the Alpha space station city-the eponymous city of a thousand planets-a dead red zone that evoked THE DEAD ZONE again, released the same year as TWILIGHT ZONE: THE MOVIE. Ethan Hawke also looked more like McDonald than the jolly intergalactic pimp he was supposed to be, reaffirming the film’s implicit link to LUCY as well as to Toronto and its film art, artists and scholars. And Ola Rapace’s resigned and long suffering commando, Gibson, evoked Vancouver based sly fi writer William Gibson, affirming the film’s implicit interest in Canadian writers. Thus, either Valerian or Laureline may have symbolized Gardevil. Indeed, the fact that Valerian was chosen by the Mul to save them and their brave new CGI enhanced world reminded us that the Muse had chosen Gardevil to enlighten the world about the dread allegorical Zone Wars and bring that bitter conflict to an end.
The resemblance of Delevingne to Charlize Theron’s implicitly Gardevil linked Mavis Gary in the implicitly Wright roasting Jason Reitman film, YOUNG ADULT (2011), reaffirmed the implication that the poor ol’ Gardevil was being addressed in VALERIAN AND THE CITY OF A THOUSAND PLANETS. The choice of Delevingne definitely linked the film to Toronto and its film art, film artists and film scholars, for she was linked forever to the city via her role as Doctor June ‘Enchantress’ Moone in the Toronto created, allegorical, and super satirical David Ayer film, SUICIDE SQUAD (2016). The fact that the film was based on an allegorical work of narrative art by Pierre Christin and Jean-Claude Mezieres called VALERIAN that was like a cross between ASTERIX and BARBARELLA first appeared in the 9 November 1967 issue 420 of PILOTE also supported the implication that the film was allegorically addressing me, given that I was born in 1967. Implying that Besson was either roasting or supporting me with a truly fantastic and spatio-temporal navigating film that reaffirmed his commitment to CGI enhanced film art and his belief that the brave new world of CGI would one day break free of the Zone. A sunny, transcendent, mystic and love filled day that would affirm that he had indeed liberated the world from the Zone, sympathized with Lynch and triumphed over Bigelow and all of the other Anglophone film artists to stand revealed as the Franco-American Daulphin.
Christin, Pierre and Jean-Claude Mezieres. Valerian: the complete collection-
Volume 1. Canterbury, UK: Cinebook, 2017.
Edwards, Graham. ‘Symphony of Color’. cinefex. Riverside, CA:
Cinefex LLC, 2017.
Salisbury, Mark. Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets: the art of the
Film. London: Titan Books, 2017.