Monday, 15 November 2010


Director: Roger Vadim
Producer: Dino Re Laurentiis
Cast: Jane Fonda, John Phillip Law, Annita Pallenberg
Year: 1968

Barbarella is a 1960's science fiction film based on the comic of Jean-Claude Forest. It is cheesy, sexy and frequently quite entertaining- a sex comedy. The story takes part in space during the 41st century where Barbarella is on a mission assigned by the President of Earth to retrieve Dr. Durand- Durand from planet Tau Ceti in order to save planet Earth. On her quest she encounters various unusual people.
Even from the opening credits the viewer gets to have a first taste of the film's attitude to sex. A person in a space suit is slowly stripping off in zero gravity. As the pieces of the suit are slowly taken off a beautiful, sexy female figure is revealed. It's Barbarella and she is willing to do whatever it takes to save planet Earth- even if that includes sleeping with a lot of men!
A lot of strange characters took place in this movie such as the  wicked children who set up   flesh-eating dolls against her, ripping her clothes and giving her some painful nips. Also the fury  cave man Barbarella had the opportunity to have a 'traditional' sexual intercourse with and Pygar the blind angel she seduced and  finally fell in love with.

The first highly noticeable thing of this film ( or maybe second for those who can't keep their eyes off sexbomb Barbarella) is the heavy 1960's style in terms of decoration, fashion and even music. Barbarella's spaceship for instance is colourful, full of flashy lights and was all covered in fur- a sign of luxury perhaps.The '60's were about more than just mid-century modern- hippie pads, glamorous digs, Early American dreams.. A bit like this:
"Interior decorating and home furnishing designs weren't exempt from change and experimentation. A typical mid-1960s living room would have been decorated in bright colours such as purple and orange - carpet, wallpaper and curtain patterns were semi-abstract with bold angles and striking lines, and you were nobody in the modern world unless you had a lava lamp bubbling away on your coffee table."

The 60's was a decade that broke many fashion traditions, mirroring social movements during the period. It was the time when woman's fashion had a breakthrough and had the chance to be more revealing. Before that time a woman's outfit required to be modest, covering as much flesh as possible. Barbarella is the kind of film that depicts the rapid change from one decade to another and  supports the belief that women have the right to sexual fulfilment. 

As for the sound of the movie: "There is a plethora of weird sound effects and a sixties pop soundtrack is constantly playing, so naturally, all this doesn't seem tremendously futuristic nowadays, but the filmmakers' maxim seems to have been, if it looks cool, if it looks weird, then put it onscreen."

A memorable scene is the one where Barbarella was captured by the evil Durand-Durand. She was placed into some kind of organ-looking torture machine which was giving her fatal pleasure. But the machine broke down, unable to pleasure her anymore. It might sound weird but this could be a as strong scene which symbolises woman's breakthrough as a sexual being rather than a sexual object.

"The biggest problem that I had with the movie is that while it’s nice to see a woman’s sexual liberation positively portrayed, it’s a shame that the film continually robs her of her agency, turning her into the damsel in distress that gets saved and screws her savior."


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