One of my favorite science fiction worlds is the world of Fifth Element (1997). The Fifth Element is probably the first science fiction movie I remember watching (whether or not it was age appropriate was debatable) and it definitely made me fall in love with the genre.
For those unfamiliar with the film, the wiki is pretty good although it is definitely worth the watch. There’s an evil force. Leeloo, a human that was made from a weapon, is the only thing that can stop it. After being engineered, Leeloo finds a taxi driver and the two have to save the world with the help of a flamboyant talk show host, an opera singer, and other characters.
The world of the Fifth Element is beautifully constructed and stands as a colorful, quirky, and effeminate world amongst its other 90s counterparts which are grungy and masculine or strictly dad comedies (I’m looking at you — Matrix, 12 Monkeys, Terminator, and Men in Black). While Neo and Leeloo are both weapons in the plot lines of their sagas, Leeloo is childlike and overwhelmed and girly but also completely powerful and it’s great.
It’s an odd duck film and people still don’t exactly know how to feel about it. It’s super cheesy, yes. It’s also not a very American style film. The cast ranges from known actors to models to singers. It’s kind of artsy but in the way a Rococo lamp is — maybe over the top and glittery but also sort of enjoyable (me too). Some people hate that it’s a story about a woman created to save the universe and she only harnesses these powers after declaring her love for Bruce Willis. But others love the gender bending cast of heroes that move the plot more than just a token gay friend. The costumes and scenery are splendid and while cheesy the film manages to hit humor notes that other science fiction films just don’t.
Love it or hate it — the world building is incredible. From flying taxis and multilayered cities to the famous multipass scene to how Leeloo was engineered — there’s a lot of cool tech.
But my favorite piece of tech in The Fifth Element is hands down the Chanel Makeup Machine. The machine is a discrete black box that you put over your eyes and then — poof! Instant perfect makeup. Honestly a dream and no one can convince me otherwise.
I honestly think this machine is amazing and that the sensors in it to deposit products that precisely without hurting the human eye must be more advanced than a lot of surgical tech we have today. Not only is it a fun interface for makeup it completely changes an entire human interaction with cosmetics, which I think is amazing.
This machine definitely inspired me a lot when I was a girl and set me on the path to being an engineer, so it’s an artifact that will always hold a special place in my heart.