Saturday, December 5, 2015

#1,937. Barbarella (1968)

Directed By: Roger Vadim

Starring: Jane Fonda, John Phillip Law, Anita Pallenberg

Tag line: "The space age adventuress whose sex-ploits are among the most bizarre ever seen"

Trivia: Sophia Loren turned down the title role

Barbarella, a 1968 sci-fi / adventure from producer Dino De Laurentiis, grabs your undivided attention the moment it begins: Jane Fonda, the film's star, performs a striptease as the opening credits flash on-screen, shedding her spacesuit one layer at a time while floating weightless in the air until she’s wearing nothing but a smile. 

In the long history of science fiction films, you’d be hard pressed to find an opening scene more memorable than this one!

At the request of Earth’s president (Claude Dauphin), the sexy, somewhat naïve explorer Barbarella (Fonda) heads to the Tau Seti region of space to track down a lost scientist named Durand Durand, the inventor of the positronic ray, the most powerful weapon in the universe. 

Durand Durand and his ship disappeared somewhere in the vicinity of Tau Seti, and Earth’s government is holding out hope that: 
1. He’s still alive, and 
2. His deadly invention hasn’t fallen into the wrong hands.

Soon after entering the region, however, Barabrella’s ship crash-lands on a remote planet, where she’s assisted by (and has sex with) a variety of men, including a heroic hunter (Ugo Tognazzi); a living, breathing angel named Pygar (John Philip Law); and Dildano (David Hemmings), a revolutionary intent on ending the reign of The Great Tyrant (Anita Pallenberg), a gorgeous. sultry monarch who rules her planet with an iron fist. 

But as Barbarella soon discovers, there’s someone more devious than The Great Tyrant lurking behind the scenes, and receives the shock of her young lifetime the moment she realizes who that person is!

Barbarella would make a great double feature alongside 1980’s Flash Gordon, yet another space adventure produced by Dino De Laurentiis. Both have their share of colorful set pieces and garish fashions (Barbarella’s ship has brown shag carpeting… on the floor, walls, and ceiling!), but even more to the point, they are both entertaining as hell. 

Fonda is positively stunning as the title character who finds herself pulled into one crazy situation after another. Aside from being attacked by porcelain dolls, Barbarella also flies through the air in Pygar’s arms; is locked in a cage with hundreds of angry parakeets; and is placed inside an orgasm-inducing piano that doubles as a torture device! Though the ending is a bit of a downer (for most of the characters, anyway), I guarantee you’ll have a great time watching this movie.

That said, I was surprised to learn that Barbarella was given a PG rating (Parental Guidance suggested) as opposed to an R (Restricted to those under 17) by the MPAA. While the nudity is, for the most part, harmless, there’s plenty of sexual innuendo scattered throughout the film that, at the very least, might confuse younger viewers. Even a scene where Barbarella and Dildano take a pill and join hands (which, at that point in the future, is the accepted form of sexual contact) gets pretty damn hot.

But never mind: even without the sex, Barbarella is a visual delight, and a whole mess of fun.

1 comment:

Evil Punk Demon said...

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