Don't Forget the Dirt

So yesterday I was rewatching THE FIFTH ELEMENT. Brilliant movie. And while I was watching, there was one thing that stood out to me.

The dirt.

There's a lot of dirt in that movie. On the people, in the setting, everywhere. Take a look here, as Leeloo presents her multipass:

See that? A giant pile of garbage behind her.

The thing that makes this movie so amazing is the dirtiness of it. It doesn't make a show of the dirt--but the dirt is very much present throughout the whole movie. It makes everything more realistic.

We all here at the League read and write books about the future, and if there's one thing I think is missing in many of these works, it's simply this: dirt.

I know I'm guilty of it. I'm working on the sequel for ACROSS THE UNIVERSE right now--it's called A MILLION SUNS--and there's a lot that's going wrong for Elder and Amy. As I edit the manuscript, the number one thing I'm cutting (thanks to the brilliant guidance of my editor!) a lot of the "pretty" scenes. And adding more dirt.


Stef said...

That's a really good point. It seems that the majority of science fiction novels (and movies) portray the future as this sterile, plastic environment, and I very highly doubt that as plausible. I've actually been reading a little science fiction myself as of late, and I have found that Stephen R. Donaldson has done a wonderful job of creating a gritty, futuristic environment in his The Gap Into Vision series. Another good example of that in television is Firefly.

Hmmmmm... Perhaps I should think about putting more dirt into my writing. :)

Lesli Muir Lytle said...

Beth Revis, you ROCK!

Thanks for the dirt. I'll rub a bit on my characters noses tomorrow. And when someone calls my book gritty, I'll send you chocolate!!!!

Lesli Muir Lytle

Emily said...

So true! Don't forget to get down and dirty with your scenes. Even in the future, the world will have filth. I doubt we'll ever get to a point when dust doesn't settle. :-)

Tere Kirkland said...

The grittiness is part of what made this movie so fun. The smog, the spare, one-room apartment Corbin lives in, especially in comparison with the luxury of Phloston Paradise.

I love that Besson et al imagined a future just as imperfect as our current society, but with the additional problems of overpopulation, laser-gun control, pollution, and waste management.

Fun post, Beth, thanks!

Also, because it had to be said:
"Leelu Dallas multi-pass."


Kathryn Packer Roberts said...

Ha! I never noticed. I mean, I noticed the big dirt heap, but you're right. There is more. This can be taken other ways as well. Putting in personality flaws, etc. A good thinking post.

Katie L. Carroll (KT) said...

"Negative, I am a meat popsicle."

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