Barbarella 1968

“The important thing in writing is the capacity to astonish. Not shock – shock is a worn-out word – but astonish.”
Terry Southern

Barbarella 1968


Aware of this movie but never having seen it, lets take a chance now that it is on cable for free. I was delighted in many ways to see this layered smart movie which, really, on the surface almost looks like soft-porn.

There needs to be some context and that is the time that the movie was made. Jane Fonda was the star and she has always been a beauty. Her brother Peter would make Easy Rider in 1969. They are the kids of acting royalty.

1969 was also the year that Midnight Cowboy won the Oscar for best picture, the only X-rated movie to do so in the history of film. This suggests that we might view Barbarella by the standards of the time and less by our values of today.

With a strange aside note: what is it about directors who marry beautiful women and then put them naked in film? Bo Derek, Julie Andrews and Jane Fonda all did a little extra for their husbands. Strange, right?

Barbarella is based on a comic book. She is sexy and there is sex as part of the plot. The opening is famous for its strip scene because it was pretty cool: in zero gravity.

If you have four minutes, check it out; it’s pretty great.

Her costumes were sexy. Designed by Jacques Foneray and Paco Rabanne, watching the film one sees the incredible influence on fashion still seen today. In film but for sure Halloween.

Here is a picture of Ciara at the recent 2018 AMA awards. That costume was almost lifted straight from Barbarella!

2018 American Music Awards Show In Los Angeles
Cardi B, Ciara, Jennifer Lopez and more celebrities onstage at the 2018 American Music Awards at the Microsoft Theatre in Los Angeles, California.
Pictured: Ciara,Jennifer Lopez
Ref: SPL5032058 091018 NON-EXCLUSIVE
Picture by:
Splash News and Pictures
Los Angeles: 310-821-2666
New York: 212-619-2666
London: 0207 644 7656
Milan: +39 02 4399 8577
Sydney: +61 02 9240 7700
World Rights, No Austria Rights, No Germany Rights, No Switzerland Rights

The entire movie looks low budget. The scenery looks like it was made of stuff that would only last a week. That said, the ideas are fantastic. A giant martini glass with a man floating in it with hookah-like tubes where women “feed” on his energy comes to mind. That is only one example you’d see through the film.

This is what drew me into the movie was the abundance of ideas. The script was written by the great Terry Southern. It is loaded with “things archetypical” like a blind angel, as if the characters were representing something far bigger even though they are presented as single character.

Finally, I think that there are many “firsts” in this movie. We see two creepy twin girls with black hair and severe bangs, way before The Shining. We see a doll that attacks Barbarella and chews on her, way before Chucky. We see (a version) of the orgasmatron, way before Woody Allen’s Sleeper. The ideas nested in the movie have been inspiring directors for a long time!

It looks cheesy and cheap. Maybe a little too sexy for today’s viewers. But it is stuffed with really smart ideas. If you have a chance, take the time and really watch it deep; there is a lot there.

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