Review of Barbarella (1968)

17 Aug

Barbarella (1968) is a Franco-Italian sci-fi/comedy/adventure film, based on the Barbarella comic book series by Jean-Claude Forest.

Directed by Roger Vadim (Et Dieu… créa la femme (1956), And God Created Woman (1988)).

Written by Terry Southern (Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964), The Loved One (1965)) and Roger Vadim (Spirits of the Dead (1968),Don Juan ou Si Don Juan était une femme… (1973)) and others.

Starring: Jane Fonda, John Philip Law, Anita Pallenberg, Milo O’Shea, Marcel Marceau, David Hemmings and others.

To be fair, I think every movie should start with a naked Jane Fonda flying around in zero gravity inside after stripping out of a spacesuit inside a spaceship, with its entire interior covered entirely in shag-carpets. Ok, maybe not, it’s enough with one movie that starts like this.

So here we are with this Barbarella chick, who is some sort of law-upholder in a very hippie-ish vision of the far future, where greeting is „love”, people aren’t ashamed to be naked (at least Jane Fonda isn’t) and there’s nothing that doesn’t scream 1960’s.

To give the film some real credit, even though it’s cheesy beyond imagination, the people involved must have been aware of it, it’s not like they tried to do some epic space opera and unintentionally created this cheese-factory.

At one point Barbarella is bitten by some creepy dolls with nutcracker mouths, then rescued by a guy who speaks an unknown language, until she adjusts her „tongue box”. I think they thought it was hilarious themselves. It is often considered a classic ‘so-bad-it’s-good’ movie, but really, it’s so tongue-in-cheek, that I don’t really consider it appropriate.

Then later on it turns out that on Earth in the future, people have sex by holding hands, which, I suppose, is the reason why it’s a peaceful, weapon-less planet now. Because everyone stops waving their dicks around while shooting from machine-guns. However, Barbarella is polite and agrees to do it „the old-fashioned way” and enjoys it quite a lot.

The movie has some really good 1960’s music, which doesn’t change, but distracts you from the plot that makes little to no sense. The set-designs are campy and as actual locations don’t make sense either, but at the same time, they’re very detailed and in a way fascinating.

The only way I could describe the plot is by summarising its structure: Barbarella goes somewhere, someone tries to kill her, she has some sexual experience and then it repeats. We even get to see the hilarious hand sex.

David Hemmings appears as a rebel leader and he is great, his scenes were the highlight of the movie, since when he’s on screen the movie starts feeling like a straight-up comedy or a spoof, but then he goes away and we’re back to weird shit, that is funny in its own ‘who came up with this?’ way, like a scene, where a bunch of chicks are smoking the „essence of man”, which is a guy boiling in a huge fishbowl.

I learnt a lot from this movie, but not one of these things are of any use. I doubt if I’ll ever have the chance to perform CPR on an angel, by cranking his wings from the back.

Overall, I got kind of bored, because the movie threw too much nonsense at me, for me to keep caring what’s going on. Might be fun with some friends and alcohol, otherwise, not recommended.

I don’t… what’s happening? I saw the movie, didn’t I?

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