- Nov 15, 2001
- Real Name
- Neil Middlemiss
Barbarella, based on Jean-Claude Forest’s comic of the same name, is quintessential camp. It is a breezy avant-garde escapade into the colorful, shaggy and absurdly sexual future. And it is ridiculously involving. Bereft of a serious tone and laden with symbols of the free-love 1960’s, this mish-mash of ideas born of the hippy movement (love not war) and the burgeoning fascination with outer-space is an oddity. It isn’t a good movie, structurally or meaningfully, but it is certainly endowed with a strange charm.
Studio: Paramount Pictures
US Rating: PG (though in all likelihood, this is not the ‘cut’ version)
Film Length: 98 Minutes
Video: MPEG-4 AVC 1080P High Definition
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audio: English Mono Dolby TrueHD, French Mono Dolby Digital, Spanish Mono Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese
Release Date: July 3, 2012
Review Date: July 6, 2012
“I'll do things to you that are beyond all known philosophies! Wait until I get my devices!”
In the future, Barbarella (Jane Fonda) is given an assignment by Dianthus, Earth’s president, to save Doctor Durand Durand, the creator of the Postitronic Ray weapon, from the planet Tau Ceti. Earth, a utopia without weapons, fears the ray will fall into evil hands. Barbarella sets of to save the day but crash lands, is captured by young girls, set upon by dolls with razor-sharp teeth, rescued by the gruff Mark Hand (Ugo Tognazzi), and discovers a new way to have sex – and all this in just the first twenty minutes.
Barbarella is an exercise in psychedelic indulgence and has achieved cult status. It is clearly best remembered for its delicious opening credit sequence as Jane Fonda’s Barbarella strips in a zero gravity environment. Directed by Roger Vadim (Fonda’s husband at the time) and produced by the once prolific Dino De Laurentis productions, there is much to be enjoyed but exclusively as a guilty pleasure. Vadim directs intently by wistfully, Claude Renoir’s cinematography captures the camp and the cast eat up the fun. Fonda is without a doubt the main attraction here in a sensuous, playful, wistful and entirely capable performance that is memorable as they come. There is limited extent to her character’s capabilities but they are married to a boldness of spirit that transcends the character from sexist pitfalls. The larger cast includes John Phillip Law as Pygar, Sophie Marceau as Professor Ping, Anita Pallenberg as The Great Tyrant, and David Hemmins as Dildano (yep, Dildano).
It’s all just so silly. Thankfully it is played with a camp flair and embrace of the flimsy sets and unnatural studio lights that it is near impossible not to feel the sway of the ridiculousness of it all or be enamored by the gorgeous Jane Fonda. Multiple outfit changes, persistently seductive demeanors and deliciously silly elements in the story such as the Chamber of Dreams, the Excessive Machine and the Mathmos combine to give Barbarella a tasty flavor of the bizarre and of the unusually entertaining.
Barbarella has been lauded as a film so bad that it’s good, and that pretty sums it up.
Barbarella looks gorgeous in high definition – as does Jane Fonda. Presented with a 2.35:1 aspect ratio in 1080p HD, this is a wonderfully crisp, defined, bright and bold looking film. Grain structure is intact, black levels are solid and, quite frankly, this 44 year old film looks far better than a large number of releases half its age. Paramount has knocked this one out of the galaxy.
With an English Mono Dolby TrueHD, the audio presentation for Barbarella is faithful. Clean and clear, the silly dialogue is without issue, the music playful and smooth and the sound effects appropriate and suitably shallow in the audio space. Just right.
If you have never seen Barbarella, you are in for a visual treat. A precursor in many ways to the campy, exciting Flash Gordon in the eighties (though Flash Gordon wasn’t nearly as bodacious in style), Barbarella is a product of its time. It isn’t a good movie but there is enough sauciness in the dialogue, sexual plot elements and sci-fi camp to be enjoyed by connoisseurs of this form of entertainment (or to be warmly received by longtime fans of the film). This was my first time seeing Barbarella, and honestly, I had a blast.
Overall (Not an average)