CATEGORIES Movies, Cinematical
Luc Besson has always seemed a little bit crazy, in the best possible way. First of all, just look at him. Second, look at his movies -- particularly the ones he's written or directed. Virtually all of them are bursting with ambition, but also kind of a weird lurid streak, a temptation to cross boundaries that one wouldn't expect to be crossed in the movie one is watching. Think the graphic rape scene in 'The Messenger: The Story of Joan of Arc', or the massively creepy sex slave auction toward the end of 'Taken'. The guy has a knack for taking ordinary genre films and slipping in something to make your skin crawl.

That weirdo sensibility served Besson particularly well with 'The Fifth Element', a massive sci-fi/fantasy folly that on paper should have been a historic flop -- but which instead became massively profitable, an enduring cult favorite, and Besson's most popular film. It was sort of like 'The Matrix', in that it was something that general audiences really hadn't seen before, and that struck a chord. Unlike 'The Matrix', 'The Fifth Element' hasn't spawned a string of imitators: it's too oddball for that.


You are invited to imagine what Besson would have made of 'The Fifth Element' had he had the sort of technology Hollywood filmmakers wield today. Besson, for his part, wants to do more than imagine: he has told a French radio station that his next project behind the camera will be an epic science-fiction film that he characterized as "'The Fifth Element' to the power of 10." He plans to start preproduction next year and film in 2012 and 2013. With his string of recent successes as a writer and producer -- films like 'Taken', 'From Paris with Love', and the 'Transporter' franchise -- he can probably swing it.

And it sounds like a lot of fun. It's not too often that someone with an imagination as off-kilter and twisted as Besson's gets to play around with all the latest toys on a giant budget. The closest equivalent would probably be Terry Gilliam, who has trouble getting anything produced these days.

Besson has a completed film, a nifty-looking French period fantasy called "The Extraordinary Adventures of Adele Blanc-Sec', that's awaiting a US release. You can see the trailer below.