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Headscratchers: The Fifth Element
  • Why, when rebuilding Leeloo, do they stop at the skin, and force her to grow her own?
    • The filmmakers probably figured a scene of a skinless woman having skin rolled onto her like pantyhose would be a little too squicky (a legitimate concern when you're relying partially on the sex appeal of your female lead to sell your movie). So they had to think of a reason to cover her up and then dramatically reveal her to the audience, and that's what they came up with.
    • She had a tattoo on her wrist with the symbols of the other four elements. If her skin was regrown from scratch, how did that tattoo get replicated?
      • It's not a tattoo, it's a birthmark. Corben just thinks it's a tattoo because people don't generally have birthmarks that elaborate and obviously shaped like a design.
      • Also, the symbols were on the inside of her right wrist, which we can assume was still intact inside the armor glove.
  • Why does Zorg help Evil try to destroy Earth? Zorg lives on Earth. It makes no sense.
    • What makes you think Evil told Zorg anything about destroying Earth? Listen to the dialog. Zorg keeps going on about his expenses and asking Mr. Shadow for more money. All Zorg knew is that Mr. Shadow wanted the stones and was paying him a shit load of money for them.
    • Zorg may also think that the "destroy all life" thing is just an exaggeration. "Oh he couldn't possibly really destroy all life, no one could do that!" We know the Evil could really do that because we're watching the movie and beings that know better are telling us so... Zorg probably just figures the Evil will really wreck a bunch of shit, while Zorg himself will live to rebuild the world with his ridiculous amount of money.
    • Evil's mannerisms puzzle me. "Am I disturbing you?" it's like if Shub-Niggurath politely asked for permission before raping your mind.
      • It's making pretensions of a business relationship with Zorg, so it can't just go "DO MY BIDDING, FLESH-SACK." Besides, it probably takes some sardonic joy in it, since it knows Zorg is scared spitless of it, and would thus have to make polite denials of wetting himself.
  • The ZF-1 replay button. Why would you want to shoot in the same spot again? If there was someone there, you already shot them. If you missed, you'll just keep missing.
    • Armor. Maybe there's some armor in the future that needs multiple shots to get through, breaking through would be easier if you can hit the same spot. Though otherwise... a useless function
      • That's what bursts are for. Just have it shoot three shots into the same place, then ignore it. And unless there's a whole lot of recoil, you can just assume that the gun is pointing in the same spot and not shoot again.
    • Two possibilites that I can guess. The First would basically be what the above troper says, you only need to shoot the spot once and then you can hide behind cover and hose the target with bullets with impunity. Alternatively, a more advanced feature would allow you to hone in on someone else's hit.
      • So you shoot someone that someone else already shot?
    • It might just be feature creep. As long as it looks impressive in a demonstration, it couldn't hurt sales.
      • This seems the most likely, especially compared with the other ludicrous features the gun has. Clearly the ZF-1 was meant to be showy, not a practical military weapon. Quite why the Mangalore, a so-called warrior race, were so enamoured with such a stupid device speaks volumes about their common sense, really.
    • Or, an ambush. You happen to know a busload of enemy are about to come from a certain spot (through a doorway, for example) and they'll be packed in rather tight. Fire one round at the area you want to point your Dakka towards, then hunker down behind cover, wait until they show up, and spray away like a madman, filling the air with lead, without ever exposing yourself to enemy fire.
    • Also, that feature would be very useful for covering fire, without the shooter doing the covering having to aim the same spot all the time or even expose oneself to return fire. And maybe there are options to spread the bullets around the same spot to cover more effectively.
      • They'd avoid that spot, which is pretty easy to see given that the bullets glow.
      • Yeah, that's kind of the idea of cover fire. Cover fire isn't to hit anyone, it's to keep the enemy's head down and away from a good firing position. So, if you've got enemies trying to come through a doorway, and you've got every bullet you fire going through that doorway, then it's very good at cover fire. Alternatively, if you shoot and kill someone who's manning a machinegun nest, that's now a machinegun nest that the enemy cannot use because the next poor sap that tries to fire it is going to get a hail of bullets for his trouble, without ever getting a shot at you.

        I think you're misunderstanding the role of automatic weapons in warfare. Thousands and thousands of rounds are fired in modern wars for every two or three enemies killed. The vast, vast majority of weapons fire is for suppression, area denial, and cover fire, not to kill anyone directly. Zorg's gun would be very effective at that if it could reliably spray the same area and keep the enemy away from it.
      • Cover fire is to get them to keep their heads down. Not to make them avoid a specific spot. It would still work if they don't realize they're all hitting the same spot, but again, the bullets glow.
    • First shot could paint the target so that no matter where they move or you aim, all ammo goes where you want it. No real wasted shots.
      • Except after the one that killed them, which you needed to shoot to use that mode in the first place. Did you read the comment?
      • So you're assuming that the first shot is always going to be an instant kill? Also, take note of how the bullets hit the dummy: They arc and curve, and while they all hit his body, they don't hit the exact same spot in the exact same way. Some are head and chest shots, some are to the side. So one way to use it is to shoot whatever cover your enemy's hiding behind, then point up and spray bullets so that when they curve to hit, they're coming down on top of the enemy instead of hitting his cover.
    • And it avoids friendly fire after the first shot.
      • At the expense of not shooting anyone else. You'd get the same results by not firing.
      • The gun can clearly be used on hardened targets as well. One bullet might not stop, say, a jeep, but a couple hundred right into the engine block would.
    • In Desert Storm a tactic used by F117 bombers hitting Iraq's hardened bunkers was to drop a bomb onto the roof of the bunker which would open a hole in the roof, then a second bomb would be dropped through the crater to destroy the contents of the bunker. This kind of accuracy was only possible through the use of laser guided smart bombs.
    • Resistance: Fall of Man has a gun with exactly this feature, and it is awesome, though granted the enemy are quite hard to kill anyway.
    • There's also the consideration that the Replay Button sends every following shot towards the same location, but it doesn't mean the following shots avoid anything in their course. Think about this. You're hitting a moving target. Shoot it once in the leg or arm, and then, even though all bullets go towards the arm, the body can turn in various ways in it's attempt to flee causing bullets to enter through other areas of the body JUST to get to the point on the arm. Also consider this strategy: you're facing down a room full of guys with minimal cover. Shoot once into the wall behind them and then send a flurry of flying bullets from behind cover hitting random targets as all bullets make their way to that spot while giving you perfect cover! It's not entirely impractical depending on how you choose to use it. The reason no Mangalore's were hit was because the shot wasn't in their direction, hence the bullets avoided them and turned around, but anyone in front of the dummy would've been swiss cheese! The advantage of a curving bullet can sometimes be more useful than a straight shooter.
    • How about the fact that you could shoot at an avenue of approach or a piece of key terrain from the safety of cover? It seems like a feature I would want to have in a weapon.
    • Keep in mind the Mandalorians are terrorists. How useful would it be to have a tracking device that you could shoot, implant, or hide on say, the podium of a politician's speech and then fire on with guaranteed success?

  • Leelo has a weeping breakdown upon learning about war from the encyclopedia. Given that she was reading in alphabetical order, what happened when she read the listings for anthrax, bomb, cancer, decimation, execution, fratricide, genocide, holocaust, inquisition, jihad, etc?
    • She didn't just stumble on the entry for War. She deliberately typed out "WAR". This implies that she had some idea of it already; but seeing all of it condensed together like that is more of what put her into Heroic BSOD territory.

  • It struck me that the flying restaurant boat guy has a really lousy business model. He's one guy who delivers food by flying his entire restaurant from place to place and sticking around long enough to make smalltalk with his customers. Realistically, he wouldn't be able to serve enough customers to keep his business going.
    • It might be that Korben is a favorite customer, and that's why he stuck around, or why he was right there in the first place. He might've been finishing up a run on the entire apartment building and stopped to chat with his last customer before heading off. Or he might spend some days anchored to a busy intersection. You see him for all of five minutes, hardly enough to see his whole business model.
    • It depends on how much he charges each customer, doesn't it?
      • Although it hardly seems like Korben would be eating from an expensive restaurant given his implied current financial situation. I find it more likely that the old man just really enjoys what he does, is barely getting by financially, and really doesn't care. Or he's actually retired, and just does this for something to do.
      • Especially since he doesn't mind at all not being paid for lunch.
    • Maybe it's what he's doing with his retirement. Maybe he's got a bunch of those things going around so it doesn't matter if they stop for awhile to make food, they're all making money. Maybe he was on his own lunch break. Maybe he's got some implant that lets him work 23 hours a day so he doesn't have to worry about wasting thirty minutes per stop. There's plenty of possible explanations, assume your favorite and don't worry about it.

  • Alright, so 99% of this movie just runs joyfully on the MST3K Mantra. I'm fine with that! But the dual point that I just cannot wrap my head around is A) how on earth Plavalaguna ingested those stones in the first place, and B) how on earth she was planning to get them out again, if she hadn't been fatally shot. Can her species unhinge their jaws? What gives?
    • She was a Rubber Forehead Alien. Humanoids have two holes that go straight into their bodies. In a female's case, there's three(depending on definition).
      • Or, y'know, surgery. FUTURE surgery
      • Or her body is artificial and thus can be cut up without any harm.
      • Which raises the question of why she died when shot.
      • Because the bullet hit some vital part that couldn't be cut up without any harm.
  • Flying cars: This just bugs in whatever I see in in. What would be practical purpose of flying vehicles manned and owned by average people in a densely populated urban area? Especially when people jump off of a building could cause a multi-vehicle pileup (plane crash?) destroying both air cars AND buildings.
    • In this case, it just seems to be that kind of dangerous future. Anywhere you go, someone might have some kind of deadly future machinegun and kill you. The shuttles are infested with alien cling-ons.. That's why the police are so rabid. The cleaning robots in Zorg's office looked pretty unsafe too.
    • I think mainly because there's no other way to get around the city. You could build a city in such a way, but it's much too late for that now, they'd have to reconstruct Manhattan from the ground up. But look at the establishing shot of NYC and just how much has been added to the city in terms of height. It's probably far from perfect, but then tens of thousands of people die every year from ground car crashes and it's a sacrifice we make without thinking twice. No reason that a perceived/actual necessity should be so different.
    • Cars are already ridiculously dangerous and we use them constantly. The literal fact of how many people cars kill is only staggering in that it's not higher. Humans will always trade danger for convenience, and cars that could fly would be extremely convenient.
  • Why exactly did Korben lose his job? It seems to me there were three possible ways. Zorg's henchman suggests they lay off employees from the cab companies, so there's that. A second possibility is that the Colonel who offers Korben the mission had him fired as an incentive to take the mission. That's why he knew about it so fast and brought it up. Korben even seems a little skeptical about it. Finally, it makes sense that Korben would lose his job once it became known that he'd used up the last point on his driver's liscense.
    • I'd say it's probably a combination of the first and third. It's implied that his firing is a result of Zorg getting rid of staff from his subsidiary companies, and since the process is certainly automated (how many was it? One million?), the computer probably was programmed to fire the "worst" employees. It checks his license, and bam. As for the Colonel, he probably only noticed as he was doing a background check on Korben for the mission (and the fact that he was unemployed may have contributed to them choosing him). It's the future, his information was probably updated the moment he was fired.
    • He was fired "Due to violation of codes: HFGY56, 74HVB, 00JGHY, MHN356585, MCNH465757, D476N" (Termination Notice)
  • The Mondoshawan that gets stuck in the temple in the prologue. Why can't they just open the door again and get him out once his hand gets stuck in it? Why do his compatriots leave without so much as a second glance behind?
    • Because those massive, several foot thick doors crushed him.
      • So what happens when future archaeologists find an alien figure stuck in there? It definitely wasn't there later.
      • Well, at some point between that scene and the "present", the Mondoshawan make explicit contact with Earth.
    • I didn't think that Mondo was left behind; I thought he was outside the room and the Priest was inside. The Mondo stuck his hand through with the key, the Priest grabbed the key and the Mondo pulled his hand out and left with the others. Meanwhile the Priest opens the door from the inside and runs out just as the Mondos take off.
    • ...Did you watch the movie? That's very clearly not at all what happened.
    • What happened with the dead Mondoshawan was probably that only he had the key that could open the temple, and when he was shot he was running short on time, so he decided to sacrifice himself by giving the key to the priest. When the other Mondoshawans left, the priest opened the gate and pulled the dead Mondoshawan away with the help of his disciple, in order to bury him.
    • But why didn't the others turn to check on the key-holder? They could have killed/knocked out Billy as they did with the Professor, and they had particular incentive to do this since Billy might have killed the priest and prevented important knowledge from being passed on.
      • They were worried about how long they were leaving their massive spaceship visible to the primitive Earthlings. Remember, the whole reason they're taking the Fifth Element and the Stones away is, effectively, they're worried that human armies readying for war will find them. They don't want to give humans any more reason to come running over and start poking around the temple.
  • Ruby Rhod complains that Korben isn't a good interviewee because he only answers with simple yeses and nos. But the questions he's asking are yes or no questions. What did he expect? Not to mention how difficult it must be to understand Ruby talking so fast. Which brings me to wonder how Ruby's a successful talk show host in the first place.
    • It wasn't just his yes/no answers, but his uninspired delivery of them. So long as he sounded like he was bored and hungover it wouldn't have mattered how interesting his answers were, they'd have made for lousy radio.
    • Speaking as someone who does interviews, it's entirely possible, and even expected, that a "yes or no" question will be answered in a much more elaborate manner. Technically, "Did you enjoy the trip?" for example, is a yes or no question, but it'd be reasonable to expect the answer to be more along the lines of, "Yeah, the service was great, and I really loved the scenery from my window seat."
      • I was taught to avoid delivering yes and no questions since while you're expected to get a better answer, if you give someone the opportunity to answer in one word, they will likely take it. Granted, Korben was a really boring guest.
    • It's more likely that Ruby is such a huge star that he's used to people nervously babbling around him, judging by the flight attendant's reaction. Not to mention the nervous reaction of being on a show that popular would cause rambling answers, thus giving Ruby something to play off of.
    • It seems more like he's more annoyed by the fact that Korben doesn't care about the interview or even seem to know who he is. Ruby comes across as one of those divas that are so used to dealing with sychophants, that they're totally unprepared when they meet someone like Korben, who simply doesn't give a shit about catering to their whims.
  • Truly I hate to ask, as I'm sure I missed something, but what gender is Ruby Rhod in-universe? Are we actually supposed to take Ruby as a female or as simply a male who cross-dresses to an extraordinary degree?
    • Ruby Rhod is identified as "he" at least once (by one of the flight attendants, I think) and he isn't crossdressing - thats simply what happens if you tell Jean-Paul Gaultier to create an over the top costume for a character without regard for sanity, usefullness or common sense.
      • Chris Tucker did an amazing job with this, though.
      • On the RiffTrax, Michael J Nelson sums it up as "That's so gay that it circles back around and becomes heterosexual again."
    • Ruby Rhod's a guy. And he's not cross-dressing either: his clothes (and mannerisms) appear very feminine but that seems to be the fashion of the future — look at the similarly-dressed Baby Ray, who is apparently a famous actor and chick magnet.
  • Why are there 2D borders in space? And why weren't there any patrols?
    • While it's probably stretching it a bit, maybe there is another row beyond visual range, since the glowing things might have a huge range. This does mean you have to ignore how the ship was waiting patiently on the same axial plain as the beacons though.
    • Ships and airplanes can go a lot of places, but they're only supposed to enter foreign countries through prescribed ports. The "border" was kind of like that. Friendly craft coming into human territory need to stop at the border and request permission to enter. If you don't go in and out the prescribed way, you're violating our space.
  • Is no one concerned that a second moon is going to cause havok with the tides and tectonics? Granted, it's better than being blown up, but still...
    • If they can invent FTL starships, I daresay they can tow an object roughly the size of the moon out of Earth orbit. Or blow it to smithereens.
      • Wouldn't the chunks of broken moon raining down on Earth cause an even worse holocaust?
      • Again, if they have the tech and the know-how to build FTL starships, they can handle it without destroying the Earth.
      • I think the system would adapt after a brief period of some slightly muddled tides. We don't know how dense it is, but it's only 1200 miles in diameter, that's a bit over third as wide as the moon, less than a 12th of its volume.
      • Yeah, "only" 1200 miles in diameter, but if you listen to the dialog is parked so close to earth that parts of it would be inside the planet's atmosphere. The tidal forces and gravitational pull that moon would be exerting would be tremendous, assuming it could maintain that orbit and not come crashing down in the first place. Artistic License - Physics.
      • I assume that since the planet is a concentration of pure evil and thus has no mass or gravity that would adversely affect the Earth.
      • In either case, considering that "low orbit" is ~150 miles above sea level and anything below that would eventually smash into earth (also the fact that it stops dead in it's tracks. . . in space) one is left to assume that there is clearly an other-worldly force behind this that our mere human brains cannot understand. Basically I just always assumed it's not governed by our universe's laws of physics (even after being "frozen").
  • When Zorg leaves the resort ship the first time, he sets up a timebomb to kill everyone once he's safely away. Then he finds out that the case he stole doesn't actually have the stones in it. So he goes back to the ship, finds the bomb, and deactivates it at basically the last second. Then one of the Mangalore warriors reactivates it, killing Zorg and everyone else on the ship. Here's my question: why does the Mangalore have a control to detonate Zorg's bomb. How does that work?
    • It's been a while, but as I remember it Zorg plants a bomb and then returns and de-activates his own bomb. The Mangalore activates their bomb which they brought on because they're terrorists.
      • This is correct... Zorg's bomb was the tiny iBomb on the wall that he drops the card into to disarm. The Mangalore however, carried a bomb in to avenge themselves should the mission go bad.
  • Why would the most evil thing in the universe specifically target an Insignificant Little Blue Planet at the edge of the galaxy?
    • Because it holds the weapon specifically designed to destroy it. Note how it doesn't move at all until it looks like the weapon's actually going to be activated. Earth wasn't its primary target, otherwise it would've just gone straight there unimpeded and just wiped it out. It only targets Earth when the planet has basically put a gun to its head.
    • As Cornelius explains in the beginning, if the "Great Evil" takes the place of the fifth element, it will spread death throughout the universe. Essentially the great weapon to be used against it is also a very tempting target for it.
  • Dallas's apartment had a bunch of stuff that folded into the walls. It wouldn't take up any more apartment space if it was attached to the room directly and it would make the floor plan much simpler. Why did they build it that way?
    • Probably because the room is literally the size of a decent closet. Plus it's really difficult to make a floor plan simpler than "compartments/bed/etc. on one side, empty space on the other".
    • Never mind the stuff going into the walls, where does the fridge go?
      • Down into the floor, just like we see on the screen. It's not as impossible as it sounds. If the apartment building is designed so the position of the fridge/shower in each apartment alternates with every floor, then it could work. That's not to say it's a good design, though. It wouldn't save any more space than just putting the fridge and the shower in the same room.
      • The shower telescopes into itself. Leeloo has to duck, then crouch, because the ceiling isn't moving. The bed saves space by folding up underneath some shelves. There's a faucet on the floor of the shower, implying you could stop it halfway and use it as the sink. The only real issue is the fridge going into the floor would waste a lot of space, unless you assume that there's either a large void space between floors already (maybe required by the structural elements or infrastructure of a building that size), or that he shares a fridge with his downstairs neighbor.
    • If you check the shots outside Dallas' apartment when the Police Control happens, the corridor has a higher ceiling than the apartment, suggesting more space between the residential areas on floors for stuff to fold in to. Probably not the most efficient bit of architecture (which is fitting, given everything else in the film) but does explain away this issue.
  • What, exactly, is the black slime that oozes from the foreheads of General Staedert and Zorg? It's not described in the script. It is described (both times) in Terry Bisson's Novelization of the film, but, annoyingly, Bisson doesn't say what if anything it signifies. Clearly, it has some connection to being in direct proximity to the Dark Planet, even if in Zorg's case it was only the thing's voice, but what is it and what does it mean?
    • I always assumed it was supposed to be blood but they had some kind of catastrophic Special Effects Failure.
    • I thought it was some kind of gel or hair dye that got runny when you started sweating.
    • It's the evil inside a person being drawn out through "contact" with the dark planet—an evil "ectoplasm" if you will. It also appears on General Staedert's forehead when he's freaking out and about to be gobbled up by the planet.
    • Personally I always thought of it as a sort of liquid fear... the body's instinctive reaction to being in contact with anti-life. It's not like anything we know and it's not explainable because outside of contact with the ultimate evil, it doesn't happen.
  • Why did the aliens kill the professor at the start of the movie? What was the point? They were removing the stones which were the only things in the place worth guarding and if they hadn't killed him the professor would have been left with an incredible story and zero evidence. Heck there was never any reason for anyone to kill the professor. Why would the priest care if he saw the information inscribed in the wall? He would have just assumed it was another funny ancient myth and nothing more.
    • Who said they killed the professor? That's what the one jumpy guy with the gun thought happened, but more likely they just knocked him out.
      • The priest certainly acted as though they had and he had been doing his best to kill that professor mere minutes earlier.
      • True, but the priest didn't have any other options. The Mondoshowan might have some magic telepathy power to make the professor fall asleep. Of course to the assistant it certainly looked like the aliens killed him, so it makes sense that he would pull a gun.
      • Alright, but even assuming they sedated him and the priest just acted as though he had been killed that still leaves the question of why they needed him dead or unconscious. Their stated goal was to move the stones and they accomplished that. They never hinted that there was anything special about the chamber or they would have taken some step to make sure that humans couldn't discover the chamber. Without that key the aliens used there is no reason to believe that the professor could have discovered the stones. There was no reason the priest couldn't have just let him look at the ancient inscriptions, leave for the night, and have the aliens show up then to take the stones and get out before anyone interfered. The professor was either murdered or nearly murdered for no good reason.
      • The priest, pretty clearly, thought that the temple and its purpose had to be kept secret. The professor was clearly going to just keep on digging and studying until he found something. The priest didn't know that the professor was never going to get into the tomb, so in his mind, the only way to stop him was to arrange an accident where the professor drinks some bad water.
      • The temple is also clearly important... you can't just set up the stones and the Fifth Element in anyone's living room, apparently. They were probably worried that if it was discovered, it would be at best destroyed (hacked at trying to figure it out, or pieced out and sent to some British museum), at worst some warmongering despot might actually figure out how to do something with it.
  • What is that plastic thing on Zorg's head?
    • It seems to be an accessory akin to the fascinator. It's also part of the uniforms of Zorg's muscly goons (excepting Right Arm).
  • So why are the police after Leeloo, anyway? If the President believes Cornelius about the stones, can't he tell the police to let her go? For that matter, what did she do? She broke out of the nuclear lab place after the general tried to keep her in the tube, which is...anti-kidnapping? And why did Korben hide Cornelius (who the police never connected to Leeloo) from the police during the raid? Is having guests over during a surprise raid illegal?
    • It appears that the police were told to find a woman that escaped the lab, but weren't given any details as to who she was or why she needs to be caught. The President is also quite insistent that the government will take care of the problem, and they don''t need further help from Cornelius (even if they did, how would he know that Leloo would end up in Cornelius' care). Additionally, the police weren't after Leloo in the raid on Korben's apartment building, they were there because Right Arm had framed Korben for Uranium Smuggling.
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