BARBARELLA

Director Roger Vadim
Year 1968
Starring Jane Fonda, John Phillip Law
Rating PG
Run Time 98min
More Info IMDb

Barbarella (Jane Fonda), an astro-navigatrix and adventuress from the year 40,000, receives an assignment from the President of the Republic of Earth who reaches her via a nude statue that doubles as a video-phone viewing screen. He happens to catch her in the middle of a zero-g striptease as she wriggles out of her spacesuit, the opening credits doing a barely sufficient job of covering her prurient parts. At this point in your first viewing of BARBARELLA you probably already have enough information to realize this is the movie you’ve been waiting your whole life to see. Did I mention the cockpit of her ship is covered in brown shag carpet and her only companion is a lisping A.I. abicus?

A renegade scientist named Dr. Durand-Durand (yep, this is where the band got their name) has created a weapon called the Positronic Ray and he’s going to use it to rule the Universe. It’s up to BARBARELLA to stop him. Embarking on a swirling pop art journey of intergalactic adventure and sexual discovery, like an erotic Candide or a swinging sci-fi Gulliver’s Travels, BARBARELLA crosses galaxies searching for the sinful city of SoGo, surviving an attack by children armed with sharp-toothed mechanical dolls, crossing vast icy wastes in a sled powered by space stingrays, escaping a machine designed to kill its victims with sexual pleasure, and making love to a blind angel and restoring his self-confidence.

Adapted from a French comic book by horndog director Roger Vadim, BARBARELLA's rambling, episodic structure is merely an excuse to revel in eye-popping art design, flagrant sexual hijinks and just a dash of social commentary (in the distant future, only the lower classes still make in love in the physical sense). This psychedelic sexploitation romp is a candy colored ode to the joys of comic books, with all the campy, stylized sets and charmingly retro special effects you can find in the eighties’ Flash Gordon movie, only way dirtier and more subversive. Jane Fonda turned down offers to star in both Bonnie and Clyde and Rosemary’s Baby in favor of completing this movie and she clearly made the right choice.

The supporting cast includes John Phillip Law, the same year he starred in the equally wild, visually thrilling, Euro-pop super crime wonder Danger: Diabolik. Famous mime Marcel Marceau shows up as the talkative Professor Ping. Model, jet-setter and Rolling Stones love interest Anita Pallenberg plays The Great Tyrant, the Black Queen ruler of SoGo. And David Hemmings, as the underground rebel leader Dildano, gets Barbarella to give up her exaltation transference pills and find pleasure “the old fashioned way.”

A true masterpiece of bubblegum sci-fi pop, erotic camp, and visual inventiveness, BARBARELLA dares to imagine a bright and optimistic future where love and sex are the only things that will redeem any of us.

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