Monday, August 22, 2011

Leeloo's Name

For today's post I would like to tackle Leeloo's name.  Her entire name.

Long before I had ever seen her name in actual print, I could say it.  And I learned by continually watching the scene in the film where she and Korben have their nervous introductions, with Leeloo aiming a gun to Korben, offended that he'd kissed her without her permission.  Eventually I had it down, but spelling it was another task entirely.  The official film site from 1997 spelled her name as such:

Well, I could get behind that, as that's what I heard too.  A "T" sound in Lekatariba.  Then some sites started popping up, claiming it was Lekarariba.  I never did agree with that contention, however, because I could hear the "T" sound and the flow was more appropriate.

It wasn't until I'd landed a copy of the video game (which has an excellent remix of The Diva Dance, by the way, over an intro movie), that I noted the gaming manual listed her name spelling as Leeloominaï Lekatariba Lamina-Tchaï Ekbat De Sebat.  Well, that actually looked official!

Some more digging led to the discovery of an early script draft, which also spelled Leeloo's name with Lekarariba.  Soon after this discovery, if you're still following me, that is, I came upon and bought a copy of Luc Besson's film diary.  On the last page of this book was a poster of Leeloo leaping off the building after escaping the Nucleolab, and underneath that photo in bold print was her name, as such:  Leeloominaï Lekatariba Lamina-Tchaï Ekbat De Sebat, shown here:

This image is one I have scanned from my book, so it's cut off a little as the book itself is too large for my scanner.  I do, however, own the poster as well and it's huge, about 4x6' - meant to be displayed where its size can be handled.  I've heard it called the French Metro poster too.  The caption next to this poster in the book is "a post-release promotional poster."  Not to also mention, Luc Besson himself spelled her name the same way in his diary, albeit with slightly different syllable emphasis:  Leeloominai Lekatariba Lamin-atchai Ekbat Desebat.

So where did Lekarariba come from, and how did it become transposed as an official spelling?  I don't think we'll ever truly know, however it's also used this way in the film subtitles as well as the novelization of the film, which was also written based off of that earlier draft.  In this draft and novel as well, Ruby Rhod isn't Ruby yet, he's Loc Rhod.  I guess we're lucky Korben Dallas didn't remain as Zaltman Bleros, either, as the initial title of The Fifth Element was Zaltman Bleros and the Fifth Man.

Official Trivia:

leeloo min aï is translated in the Divine Language as "precious stones."

Other trivia with fun connotations (2) and some with no back-up sources at all (1):

(1) Luc Besson said in a radio interview that "The first part means the light, the second one is her family name, the third one is her dynasty and the last one means she is the 17-th."  I had heard a long time ago that part of her name, particularly the last part, was an honorific.  

(2) Oddly enough, other than leeloo min aï, no other parts of her name are translated in the published Divine Language glossary, though over at T. Leah Fehr's Divine Language site, she has researched and come up with a pretty awesome educated guess about the meaning of Leeloo's entire name!  Please see here:  What's in a Name?

With all this stated, I think it's safe to assume that "Lekatariba" is the correct spelling of Leeloo's second name, and "Lekarariba" simply being transposed wrong at some point down the line.  If anyone has any information they would like to add, please feel free leave a comment!  Comments are moderated, and I have another writing gig as an advocate for chronic migraine sufferers, as well as an income-generating job, so don't fret if your comments don't show immediately.

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