The Languages used in the Movie: The Fifth Element

photo of supernova in galaxy

Language plays a significant role in the world of cinema. It adds depth to storytelling, enhances character development, and immerses the audience in the fictional universe. One notable film that exemplifies the creative use of languages is "The Fifth Element." Directed by Luc Besson and released in 1997, this science fiction extravaganza presents a futuristic world where multiple languages are used to convey meaning, evoke emotions, and shape the narrative.


In the realm of science fiction, language often serves as a crucial tool for world-building. It helps establish the cultural and historical context of the story while creating a sense of realism and authenticity. "The Fifth Element" excels in this aspect by incorporating a diverse range of languages, both real and constructed, to enrich the film's narrative tapestry. This article explores the various languages used in the movie and their significance within the story.

The Importance of Language in Movies

Language is not merely a means of communication; it is a reflection of identity, culture, and history. In movies, language plays a pivotal role in establishing character traits, showcasing societal norms, and conveying subtle nuances. By using different languages, filmmakers can evoke specific emotions, create tension, and enhance the overall cinematic experience. "The Fifth Element" embraces this notion by employing various languages to amplify the narrative's impact.

The Role of Language in "The Fifth Element"

The Language of the Divine Light

At the heart of "The Fifth Element" lies a language known as the Divine Language or the Language of the Light. It is a key element in the plot as it holds the power to activate the ultimate weapon against a looming cosmic threat. This language is mysterious and possesses a unique visual form that appears as glowing symbols. Its inclusion adds an element of mysticism and spirituality to the film.

The Ancient Language of the Mondoshawans

Another prominent language in the movie is the ancient language of the Mondoshawans, an advanced extraterrestrial race. This language represents wisdom and knowledge, spoken by the Mondoshawans themselves and preserved within their artifacts. It adds an aura of ancient wisdom and adds depth to the extraterrestrial elements of the story.

The Alien Language of the Mangalores

The Mangalores, a fearsome alien species in "The Fifth Element," have their own unique language. This guttural and aggressive-sounding language helps establish their menacing nature and sets them apart from other characters in the film. It showcases the diversity of languages within the fictional universe of the movie.

Linguistic Diversity in "The Fifth Element"

Multilingual Characters

"The Fifth Element" boasts a cast of characters from different backgrounds, each speaking their own native languages. This linguistic diversity reflects the multicultural nature of the film's futuristic society. Characters such as Korben Dallas (played by Bruce Willis), Leeloo (Milla Jovovich), and Ruby Rhod (Chris Tucker) contribute to the rich linguistic tapestry of the movie.

Language Barriers and Translation

The presence of multiple languages in "The Fifth Element" introduces language barriers among the characters, adding conflict and complexity to their interactions. Translation becomes a crucial aspect, with characters relying on technology and interpreters to bridge the communication gap. This dynamic highlights the challenges of intercultural communication and the significance of language as a tool for understanding and miscommunication.

Symbolism and Semiotics of Language in the Movie

The Power of Words

In "The Fifth Element," language carries immense power. The Divine Language, in particular, holds the key to ultimate destruction or salvation. This symbolism reinforces the idea that words and language have the ability to shape destinies, unite or divide people, and influence the course of events.

Communication as a Central Theme

Communication, both verbal and nonverbal, serves as a central theme in "The Fifth Element." Through language, characters forge relationships, express emotions, and convey their intentions. The intricate web of communication weaves the narrative together and explores the complexities of human and alien interactions.

Constructed Languages in "The Fifth Element"

The Creation of the Divine Language

The Divine Language featured in "The Fifth Element" is a constructed language, or conlang, designed specifically for the film. Constructed languages add an extra layer of authenticity and detail to fictional worlds. The creation of the Divine Language involved the collaboration of director Luc Besson and linguist Maud Bodkin, resulting in a visually stunning and enigmatic language.

Constructing Alien Languages

In addition to the Divine Language, the film showcases other constructed languages, such as the language of the Mangalores. These languages were crafted to reflect the alien cultures and to establish a sense of believability within the movie's universe. The process of constructing these languages involved developing vocabulary, grammar, and phonetics, contributing to the overall richness of the film's linguistic landscape.

Cultural and Historical Influences on Language in the Film

The Influence of Ancient Egypt

"The Fifth Element" draws inspiration from various cultures and historical periods, including Ancient Egypt. The ancient Egyptian language and hieroglyphs are subtly referenced in the film, contributing to the visual and linguistic aesthetics. This interplay of real-world cultural influences adds depth and intrigue to the story.

Inspiration from Science Fiction Literature

Luc Besson's film is also influenced by science fiction literature, particularly the works of authors such as Isaac Asimov and Philip K. Dick. These authors often explored the power of language and communication in their stories, and their ideas find resonance in "The Fifth Element." The film pays homage to these literary influences by integrating their themes into its narrative.

Language and the World-Building of "The Fifth Element"

Creating a Diverse and Immersive Universe

Through its intricate use of languages, "The Fifth Element" constructs a diverse and immersive universe. The multilingualism of the characters and the inclusion of constructed languages help establish the futuristic society portrayed in the film. This attention to linguistic detail enhances the world-building, making the fictional universe feel vivid and realistic.

Enhancing the Film's Atmosphere

The various languages in the movie contribute to its overall atmosphere and tone. From the melodic and elegant Divine Language to the harsh and aggressive Mangalore language, each linguistic element adds texture to the storytelling. The careful selection of languages enhances the emotional impact of the film and transports the audience into the futuristic world of "The Fifth Element."

Impact and Reception of Language in the Movie

Audience Engagement and Fascination

"The Fifth Element" captivated audiences with its unique use of languages, sparking curiosity and intrigue. The incorporation of diverse languages and the creation of constructed languages fascinated viewers, drawing them further into the film's narrative. Language became an additional layer of engagement for audiences, elevating their viewing experience.

Critical Analysis and Appreciation

Critics and scholars have praised "The Fifth Element" for its linguistic intricacies. The film's use of languages has been the subject of academic analysis, exploring the role of language in storytelling, the construction of fictional worlds, and the representation of diverse cultures. "The Fifth Element" stands as a testament to the power of language in cinematic narratives.


"The Fifth Element" demonstrates the transformative power of language within the realm of cinema. Through its diverse array of languages, both real and constructed, the film captivates audiences, enriches the narrative, and contributes to the immersive world-building. From the enigmatic Divine Language to the aggressive Mangalore tongue, each linguistic element adds depth, symbolism, and cultural significance to the movie.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can the Divine Language be translated?

In the context of the film, the Divine Language remains mysterious and untranslatable. Its symbols and meaning hold great importance within the story, but their specific translations are left to the imagination of the audience.

Are there any real-world languages used in "The Fifth Element"?

Yes, the film incorporates several real-world languages, including English, French, and Russian, to reflect the multicultural society depicted in the movie.

Who created the Divine Language?

The Divine Language was created through a collaboration between director Luc Besson and linguist Maud Bodkin. Their aim was to develop a visually striking and spiritually evocative language for the film.

Did the use of multiple languages affect the film's accessibility?

While the film features multiple languages, translation devices and subtitles are utilized to ensure accessibility for viewers. The inclusion of language barriers adds depth to the narrative without compromising comprehension.

Has "The Fifth Element" influenced the use of languages in other films?

"The Fifth Element" has had a significant impact on the use of languages in science fiction and fantasy films. Its creative approach to constructing languages and its emphasis on linguistic diversity have inspired subsequent filmmakers to explore similar techniques.