2015 marks the year that Marty McFly visited the future. There has been a flurry of articles doing the rounds on what the film predicted accurately and what it didn’t. Having recently watched one of my favourite science fiction films of all time, The Fifth Element, I wondered why no one had really looked at the tech represented in Besson’s futuristic vision. Unlike Back to the Future Part II, we still have a few years (or over two hundred if you want to be accurate) until we reach The Fifth Elements futuristic setting (2263).
There are many technological and social ideas present in this classic French sci fi film. While I do hope that in the future everyone will be outfitted by Jean Paul Gaultier and that we’ll develop a globalised government, I think the tech represented in The Fifth Element is rather impressive. What tech would you like to see them develop in years to come? Is there anything you wouldn’t like? I take a look at the tech I would like and what I wouldn’t like to make an appearance (preferably in my lifetime… I can hope), as well as looking at a few almost already out-dated concepts Besson chose to incorporate into his future.
Tech I hope they develop
There are a lot of technological advances presented in the film that I think could make life a lot easier…
- Food flakes that can be instantly zapped into full roast chicken dinners (or anything else of your choosing!)
No more cooking?! Yes please! This does remind me of the Star Trek replicator premise, but I like that you have to put in some kind of matter, rather than it seemingly appearing out of nowhere. And the fact that it looks like a microwave grounds the technology in the real, making it feel entirely possible!
- A facemask that can do your make-up instantaneously (and with no effort from you!)
I hate doing my make-up. Yes, I am lazier than most, I admit it, but come on, it’s a pain in the ass! You have to have good light and a mirror. Oh yeah, and patience. I have none of the above, so a tool that does this all for me with the flick of a switch sounds pretty damn good to me.
- Automatic knockout (aka sleep inducing) beds on flights
Anyone else done the flight from London to Perth, Australia? It stinks. I would give anything to jump on the plane and be knocked out for the entire trip. Best. Plan. Ever.
- Recreating/building an entire being (especially if she’s as beautiful as Leeloo) from one living cell
They do caveat this tech by saying ‘one living cell’, so this isn’t the same thing as cloning DNA from dead cells trapped in amber and having the world be overrun by dinosaurs. This does make me think though – if they can do this, they can pretty much cure anything, right? You get gangrene? No worries! We’ll chop off your leg then just re-create it! Easy!
- Fast food that comes to your window and is cooked in front of you
This is obviously a by-product of developing flying cars, which could be something that people want to create. Given this idea is hardly original, at all, I’m going to focus on the more interesting aspects Besson introduced as a result of this cool tech. I mean, what could make fast food even better? Coming to you! Yes, I know, a lot of places deliver, but this is made fresh, on your doorstep. What could be better than that?
- Beds that make and clean themselves every morning
I hate washing sheets. Maybe it isn’t so bad for those of you who have driers, but trying to hang sheets out to dry inside an English house is always an interesting juggling act. And, as I’ve already established, I am well lazy. I rarely make my bed, if ever (sorry mum!), so having a bed that washes and makes itself? Yes please!
Tech I could do without
The trouble with a lot of these futuristic worlds, be they on screen or in books, a lot of the tech has some terrifying Big Brother-esque potential.
- Remote-controlled cockroaches as eaves dropping devices
While this would make for some super cool spy tech, I’m afraid this paranoid girl would be a little freaked out that the spider in the corner of the living room was listening in to my conversations (though I’m not sure my commentary on the TV shows I watch is all that interesting…).
- Automatic, unmanned Police controlled operations
A step up from CCTV… instead of just having the cameras monitoring your every move, if they pick up on your potentially criminal behaviour on those cameras someone can remotely set automatic weapons on you. So, watch your step! They shoot first and ask questions later in the future!
Old-school tech Fifth element thought would still be around but is already on the way out
What I found particularly interesting was the way that Besson retained a lot of tech and social foibles of today in his future. Perhaps this was meant to help ground the more fantastical elements in things that we recognised and understood. But it is curious that he chose those particular items to keep.
- Physical mail
In the future, Korbin Dallas has his mail delivered directly to his apartment. We aren’t talking big IKEA deliveries or your latest Amazon impulse buy, but simple text messages. Really? Come on, there’s no way that it won’t have all gone digital by then.
- Public telephones
I like this idea purely from the nostalgia perspective. Who knows, maybe people will get tired of carrying mobile phones on them all the time and like the freedom being disconnected gives them? Or maybe not.
In the Fifth Element world, you can make extraordinary dinners at home with the flick of a switch, so why would anyone continue to go buy cardboard-tasting burgers from a drive through? Well, in the land of excessive product placement to help fund an expensive film, anything is possible, right? Or maybe not. I hope McDonalds dies long before 2263.
With all the tech that exists in the world of The Fifth Element, saving the world comes down to whether any of them have a match. It was a cool idea and I really enjoyed it in the film, but if you take a step back your suspension of disbelief dissipates. How are we supposed to believe that they don’t have a more advanced way of creating fire? They flew there in a space ship and they don’t have some gadget that can set the stone ablaze? Really?