After an in-flight anti-gravity striptease (masked by the film's opening titles), Barbarella, a 41st century astronaut, lands on the planet Lythion and sets out to find the evil Durand Durand in the city of Sogo, where a new sin is invented every hour. There, she encounters such objects as the Exessive Machine, a genuine sex organ on which an accomplished artist of the keyboard, in this case, Durand Durand himself, can drive a victim to death by pleasure, a lesbian queen who, in her dream chamber, can make her fantasies take form, and a group of ladies smoking a giant hookah which, via a poor victim struggling in its glass globe, dispenses Essance of Man. You can't help but be impressed by the special effects crew and the various ways that were found to tear off what few clothes our heroine seemed to possess. Based on the popular French comic strip. Written by
If you're looking for a cult classic, they don't come much stranger than sexed-up and super-silly BARBARELLA, the peculiar tale of an intergalactic secret agent (Jane Fonda) sent to a rebel planet to find a mad scientist named Duran Duran (Milo O'Shea.) Directed by Fonda's then-husband Roger Vadim, the film is less concerned with creating a coherent storyline than it is in finding inventive ways to strip Fonda of her already skimpy outfits.
In this it is remarkably successful, and Fonda actually has both enough sex appeal and round-eyed innocence to carry the thing off, emerging as something like a Barbie doll; John Philip Law strikes a similar note as the sexy but equally innocent "angel" Pygar. The designs are 1960s psychedelic with as many Freudian twists as the film's makers can come up with, and when all is said and done you can't help but roll your eyes in amusement.
True enough, BARBARELLA was probably much more entertaining back in the days LSD, and indeed one might read the entire thing as an acid trip time machine. No one in the cast takes the film very seriously, and neither should you; when all is said and done it has all the depth of a pancake, not so much funny as merely amusing and appealing to a very high-camp sensibility. But as cult movies go, it ranks right up at the top. Give a party and show it on a double bill with FLESH GORDON! Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer
42 of 48 people found this review helpful.
Was this review helpful to you?