Thursday, 4 February 2016
Barbarella: Queen of the Galaxy
Based on the most famous creation of French comic maker Jean-Claude Forest, the 1968 film Barbarella (also known as Barbarella: Queen of the Galaxy) is fantastically fun, enjoyably camp, wonderfully sexy and it is very very 60's. Jane Fonda stars as the titular character with main supporting roles been played by John Philip Law, Anita Pallenberg, Milo O'Shea, Ugo Tognazzi, Marcel Marceau and David Hemmings.
Never having read the comic I can't speak to its accuracy to the source material but the plot here is pretty straight forward, space adventurer Barbarella is ordered by the president of earth to retrieve Doctor Duran Duran, one of the few humans still creating weapons in this enlightened future, one weapon the Earth government fear more than any other is the Positronic Ray, so deadly powerful they fear the repercussions that could result from it landing in the wrong hands. So Barbarella heads to the 16th planet of Tau Ceti to find the Doctor, but things are not so easy as she must face robots, murderous children, mad scientists, and The Great Tyrant, though a few allies aid her including the resistanc against the Tyrant and even an Angel.
Barbarella hertself is a wounderfull character, a dearing space adventurer but with a kind innocence about her, Fonda herself said that 'Barbarella is not a vamp and her sexuality is not measured by the rules of our society. She is not being promiscuous, but she follows the natural reaction of another type of upbringing'. Director Roger Vadim also commented on this by saying 'She is going to be an uninhibited girl, not being weighed down by thousands and thousands of years of Puritan education.' He also said 'She is just a lovely, average girl with a terrific space record and a lovely body.' I feel these quotes perfectly describe the character, they aimed for the character to be a certan way and they sucseeded.
The first thing you'll notice about this film is it is the absolute definition of abstract 60's weirdness, there is not one set or location that isn't interesting just to look at and the same goes for the costume design (Barbarella herself goes through many costume changes), I don't even know where to begin describing it, it's just something that must be seen for oneself.
There are some wonderful idea's such as Sogo, the City of Night where evil is rewarded and anyone good is cast to The Labyrinth beneath where they seem to either eventually fade from existence or merge with the stone walls that entrap them. Or how on this planet Children are left to fend for themselves in the wilderness until they become of age when they are captured by the Catchmen and brought to Sogo. Little things like this can really build up what this alien world is like and how different it is from Earth and what we would consider normal.
We get some ideas of what future Earth is like too, weapons are no longer been made as there is a new era of peach and enlightenment, sex has been replaces with pills that give you a similar sensation. You know the more I describe this the more it sounds like this could be the same future from Demolition Man... now there's a crossover idea, Barbarella vs John Spartan!
Now saying that sex has become old hat and replaced with a non physical contact variation on Earth, by as said it the quotes I used above Barbarella does become intimate with a few of the sexy men she encounters, the 16th planet of Tau Ceti still practices what Barbarella describes as a 'distracting and a danger to maximum efficiency', though once she experiences it herself she changes her mind towards it, though she still thinks she was right about it been a distraction. And lets not forget the famous 'death by orgasm' machine one of the villains attempts to kill her with.
This film is a hoot and really must be experienced, so blast off for the 16th planet of Tau Ceti and watch Barbarella as your in flight film!