BARBARELLA—-in-vogue kink from back in the days of LBJ & LSD is just forced weirdness now; lacking the novelty of erotic naughtiness, it’s merely an enduring cinematic showcase to the ability of director Roger Vadim to make his star & then-wife Jane Fonda look like a front-row horse’s rear in front of the rest of the planet—a trick she’d fine tune soon enough on her own.
Fonda’s considerable appeal as ingénue comedienne is sabotaged by the writing from Vadim and Terry Southern, who, despite the help of at least nine collaborators, couldn’t seem to agree on what was funny (none of it), or what was scary (ditto), ending up with a series of agonizingly leaden vignettes salvaged mainly by the set designers and enough teasing views of the famous Fonda figure that you faintly regret not catching it when you were thirteen.
A $9,000,000 adaptation of a profitably lewd French comic-strip, it’s about the adventures of the title heroine as she climaxes her way through the 401st-century, looking for ‘Duran Duran’, the inventor of the ‘Positronic Ray‘. En route to her quarry, Barbarella is subjected to sado-sexual titillation from a variety of spaced-out types, all of whom, male or female, have her peaking in mind. Barbarella (rhymes with ‘psychadella ‘, in the horrible title song) is one hot cadet, over-coming all attempts to force her field.
None of this bizarre array of sappy sickness is funny, but the sets and color are remarkable, striking enough to keep you hooked while you’re waiting for the amoral absurdities to get down to some bona fide lust, which they don’t.
From 1968, only 98 minutes long, in America in grossed $15.700,000, putting its sexy heroine on spot #21 for the year. Featuring John Philip Law, Anita Pallenberg, Milo O’Shea, David Hemmings, Marcel Marceau (gag), Claude Dauphin, Ugo Tognazzi, Veronique Vendell. Cinematography by Claude Renoir, music by Maurice Jarre.