Movie Review – Barbarella

1968 Dino de Laurentiis Entertainment Group

Three Stars

During the sixties and early seventies there were numerous movies released that simply could not be made today because of changes in society, advances in special effects, or other factors. Barbaralla is one of those movies. You couldn’t duplicate the simple quirky and totally bizarre tone of this movie if you tried. Not to mention if you tried to pass the ratings board with all the nudity and sexual situations you would wind up with an R or NC-17 rating.

Based on the serialized French comic by Jean-Claude Forest Barbarella tells the tale of a beautiful space vixen who travels to other worlds encountering strange life forms and having a lot of sex. In this movie she is tasked by the President of Earth with landing on the planet Tau Ceti to retrieve Doctor Durand Durand the creator of the destructive Positronic Ray.  She winds up in the middle of a power struggle between Durand Durand, the Great Tyrant, and Dildano, leader of the resistance.  While trying to accomplish her mission she ends up in the sack with just about every guy she meets after she discovers that good old primitive sex is better than using the sex pill that Earthlings have been using for centuries after declaring sex a major distraction.

Featuring wacky sixties set design, the perfect sixties soundtrack, and special effects light years behind 2001: A Space Odyssey which was released the same year Barbarella has all the makings of a cult classic.

What surprised me most about this movie is that Jane Fonda is actually terrific in the role of the gorgeous protagonist. I grew up at the time she focused on heavy dramas and didn’t see this movie until I had already formed an opinion of her as being a great actress but one whose movie roles didn’t interest me that much.  I was a little shocked to see her in this.

This is a movie you just have to watch in order to really understand the wacko nature and offbeat sense of humor. It must be said that this movie is not for everyone. If you take your movies too seriously or you are easily offended stay away. However if you are like me and enjoy movies from any decade and are not offended by much then take a look.

The good:

Jane Fonda

Jane Fonda looks stunning in this movie and shows she has a knack for comedy.

Barbarella’s wardrobe. Fonda changes outfits every ten minutes wearing nice skimpy outfits (or no clothes at all).

It’s such a bother putting clothes on under your spacesuit. They get all wrinkled.

Damn letters.

My personal favorite outfit.

This movie has a great supporting cast playing crazy characters.

Durand Durand. He’s hungry like a wolf.

The Great Tyrant. She’s hot. Nice horn.

Dr. Ping played by the famous mime Marcel Marceau. Yes he does talk in this movie.

Pygar the angel. Yes Barbarella has sex with him too.

Last but not least Dildano. Played wonderfully by David Hemmings.

The sixties psychedelic vibe is everywhere whether it be in the sets or special effects.

Barbarella’s spaceship. Very streamlined.

The city of Sogo overlooks political prisoners in the labyrinth.

Barbarella’s spaceship is lined with shag carpet. Yeah baby!

Barbarella holds her arsenal of ancient bizarre weapons.

The super funky chamber of dreams.

Just plain weird.

The not so good:

That all depends on how seriously you take this movie. I don’t take it seriously at all so I have no complaints. It’s all just silly.

Random thoughts and observations:

It amuses me to think how our perceptions have changed over the years. In the late sixties to late seventies restrictions on the amount of nudity allowed in movies were relaxed and a more open minded attitude seemed to exist. Then of course the prudish attitudes returned and now there seems to be an even greater intolerance towards sex and nudity in the media. Violence is fine but sex is a no no.  Strange society we have.

I love the odd special effects and model designs. The scale is totally screwed up and there isn’t much detail but it’s all in good fun.

Look out for the Leathermen, totally evil.

They blow up nicely though.

I am surprised that nobody has marketed the killer dolls that attack Barbarella. Great for Christmas.

My favorite scene is the one where Barbarella meets Dildano. David Hemmings is funny as hell as the leader of the resistance.

I also love the scene where Barbarella short circuits Durand Durand’s pleasure machine.

Barbarella is too much for the machine to handle. What a woman.


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