It's impossible to watch the trailer for Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets and not compare it to The Fifth Element. After all, both are based on the same series of French science fiction comics, Valérian and Laureline. From the color palette interspersed with lurid splashes of neon orange to ass-kicking female protagonists, both films are an ode to Besson's love of the 1960s space opera.
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets is The Fifth Element that Besson wanted to make in 1997. While the former has become a cult classic, his original vision was admittedly limited by the VFX technology of the nineties. Now, 20 years later, Besson is yet again unleashing his signature style on the sci-fi world in full power.
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Interestingly, the two films have even more in common than you'd think. There are multiple commonalities between the storylines, their worlds and even the characters. Could there be more to the two films' connection than just the source material? Could Valerian in fact be the exact same world Besson introduced us to back in 1997? With The Fifth Element set in the 23rd Century, and Valerian 500 years later, it's not entirely inconceivable.
Valerian already looks set to be a stunning sci-fi epic, but the possibility of it being part of The Fifth Element universe — or better yet, a sequel — would really take its impact to the next level. Take a look at the striking similarities and decide for yourself:
A Familiar Scene
The sense of déjà vu was real with that Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets trailer. Many of the shots are almost identical to scenes from The Fifth Element. The uncanny resemblance might be auteur Besson's stylistic choice, or it could be a hint that the two stories share more than just the same aesthetic:
Even small details look identical, including these two shots from Valerian:
Speaking of cases, this certainly looks like the kind of vessel The Fifth Element's Zorg might be interested in:
Valerian of course features the same signature vertical city layout as both The Fifth Element and the original comics:
Not to mention those crisp, white sci-fi interiors and soft edges:
The circuit boards being tended to by these Valerian aliens is very reminiscent of the alien hieroglyphs that decorate the Egyptian tomb in The Fifth Element— could there be a link between their kind and the origin of the tomb?
Besson promises Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets will contain hundreds of alien species, though some of them look a lot like the few that were featured in The Fifth Element. Could they be related species?
Despite having a different costume designer, it certainly seems like the characters in Valerian inherited a few key wardrobe pieces, or at least took some serious style-spiration from The Fifth Element fashionistas. Jean Paul Gaultier's stunning designs were a big part of what made the film so iconic, and his legacy has certainly been honored in Valerian.
For example, Laureline and Valerian's space suits bear a striking resemblance to the protective armor of the Mondoshawans:
They also appear to be big fans of the Korben Dallas look, with elements of his own style reflected in outfits worn by both of the protagonists:
The uniforms of government officials in both films also look incredibly alike. The muted colors, cut of the collars and sharp shoulder pads have a very authoritarian Star Trek vibe. The similarities between the clothing worn by the presidential staff of The Fifth Element and the officers of Valerian might suggest they're part of the same government:
Undoubtedly the most obvious ode to Jean Paul Gaultier's raunchy, cut-out dresses worn by The Fifth Element flight attendants is Rihanna's sexy nurse outfit in Valerian. Both outfits feature tight, hip-hugging skirts with the same cut around the bust, accessorized with boxy hats and a bob wig:
But there's one interesting detail in Rihanna's outfit that may be hinting at something deeper: the curved slit in the dress just below her navel, outlined in red. It's the same place where Korben Dallas cut open the Diva Plavalaguna in order to retrieve the stones in The Fifth Element. It may be a nod to Besson's first sci-fi endeavor; or it might just be Rihanna's character honoring a historical figure who played an important role in saving her world 300 years ago.
A Classic Tale
Visuals aside, the narratives of both The Fifth Element and Valerian seem inexplicably linked. Not a whole lot is known about the story of Valerian at this stage, but the premise so far is this: a wise, peaceful and musically-inclined alien species requires the help of humans to eliminate an unknown threat to the world:
"Centuries of peace and prosperity, an unknown force wants to destroy all we have created."
The evil, villainous force in The Fifth Element isn't set to return for another 4,700 years, but perhaps Mr. Shadow has decided to make a surprising early visit.
As "guardians of our future", the two heroes in Valerian have just 10 hours to find the ominous force that threatens to shatter their entire world and defeat it. Just like in The Fifth Element, it's a story that plays out over a short window of time, forcing the protagonists to race against the clock.
What's interesting about Valerian's two leads is the way they can be compared to The Fifth Element's Leeloo and Korben. While it would be an easy (and cheap) move for Besson to pin Laureline as the new Leeloo and Valerian as the new Korben, both of The Fifth Element's original duo can be seen reflected in each of the new characters.
This is especially evident with Laureline. While we do see her unleashing some impressive kickboxing skills on her foes in the trailer, there are also shots that are shown to parallel Korben in The Fifth Element, such as this one:
Emphasizing the connection between The Fifth Element's macho male action hero and Cara Delevingne's character in Valerian not only seems like a step in the right direction for Besson, but could also be an insight into her roots. For all we know, Laureline could be the descendant of Korben and Leeloo.
Is 'Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets' Actually A 'Fifth Element' Sequel?
As much as we can speculate over the connection between The Fifth Element and Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, we really can't know for sure until the film comes out. Granted, from what we've seen so far, there's a strong chance the two movies are at least a part of the same universe.
But regardless of the truth, it's clear to see that Valerian is truly The Fifth Element's full potential finally come to life. And as much as Besson's 1997 sci-fi hit will always have a special place in the hearts of fans everywhere, Valerian looks to be the perfect (unofficial) sequel.
Do you think Valerian And The City Of A Thousand Planets could be set in the same universe as The Fifth Element?