Written by: Michael Den Boer on April 13th, 2007
Theatrical Release Dates: USA, 1968
Director: Roger Vadim
Cast: Jane Fonda, David Hemmings, John Phillip Law, Ugo Tognazzi, Marcel Marceau
DVD Released:June 22nd, 1999
Approximate running time: 98 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono English, Dolby Digital Mono French
DVD Release: Paramount Pictures
Region Coding: Region 1 NTSC
Retail Price: $9.99
Synopsis:In the year 40,000 Barbarella (Jane Fonda) is given the assignment of tracking down a scientist named Duran Duran who was last seen of the planet of Lythion. Barbarella’s mission starts off badly when her spaceship crashes. Along the way when she isn’t battling robots, monsters and children she rewards the men who help her. Will Barbarella be able to find Duran Duran and stop him form using the deadly weapon he has created or will she lose herself in her new found pleasures?
They don’t make films like Barbarella anymore. Its free love message and psychedelic style are both products of the late 1960’s. Director Roger Vadim (Pretty Maids All in a Row) has worked with and been married to some of cinema’s most beautiful women. While making Barbarella he was married to its star Jane Fonda (Spirits of the Dead) and this film would also serve as the last time they worked together, though they remained married for another five years. Barbarella oozes with style, as Vadim creates a world that defies logic as it resembles Barbarella’s comic book source material more then real life.
This film is filled with a copious amount of eye candy and most of it comes from its leading lady Jane Fonda who entrance in the opening credits is without a doubt the most erotic to ever grace any film opening ever. The fun doesn’t end there as Roger Vadim concocts several scenes that are specifically designed to showcase the Jane Fonda’s undeniable sex appeal. The two scenes that immediately spring to mind are when Barbarella has sex the old fashion way and not via a pill for the first time. And the scene where Duran Duran tortures her and she destroys his torturing machine with her sexual desire.
Performance wise this film is a virtual who’s who of late 1960’s cinema. David Hemmings (Deep Red) is delightfully bizarre as Dildano who is part of secret underground movement to overthrow The Great Tyrant who is played by the seductive Anita Pallenberg (Performance). The scenes with Pallenberg and Fonda together are pure ecstasy. Marcel Marceau (Shanks) gives a deliriously witty performance as Professor Ping and Milo O’Shea (Theatre of Blood) as Duran Duran perfectly captures the essence of super villain. The only performance the I didn’t care for is that of John Phillip Law (Danger: Diabolik) as Pygar.
The films wonderfully cheesy score includes the following songs “Barbarella”, “Drag Me Down”, “Love Theme from Barbarella” and “An Angel is Love”. All of which where composed by Charles Fox who would later rise to fame writing music for classic televisions shows like Happy Days and The Love Boat. The look of Barbarella is one of its main factors why it works so well as a film is because of cinematographer Claude Renoir’s (Blood and Roses) impeccable lighting and photography. Ultimately Barbarella is one of those films that never gets dull no matter how many times you watch it and Jane Fonda taking her clothes off.
Barbarella is presented in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the films original aspect ratio. This DVD release marks the first time that the film has ever been presented in its original aspect ratio since its original theatrical release. Outside of some noticeable nicks and scratches the transfer looks colorful and details look sharp through out.
This release comes with two audio options English and French. Both are presented in a Dolby Digital mono. The French audio mix sounds fuller and background noise is not as noticeable. The English audio mix has noticeable hiss that is present through most of the film and the amount of hiss varies through out. Dialog is easy to follow on both audio mixes and music and sounds robust. No English subtitles have been included despite the inclusion of the French audio track.
Barbarella has long been one of my all time favorite films and the lack of extras outside of the films original theatrical trailer is a huge disappointment.
Paramount’s current DVD edition of Barbarella is more then affordable and until this film gets the special edition DVD that it’s truly deserves the release will have to do.