Barbarella: The Best and Worst of Science Fiction all in one film

Barbarella offers everything in Science Fiction film-making, all that is bad, and equally so, the good. barbarella2Widely known but little seen, the 1968 film directed by Roger Vadim, is notorious for Jane Fonda’s sexpot character in various stages of undress. fonda nakedThere is more to this film than vague eroticism; the costumes and sets – including Barbarella’s shag-lined spaceship – are awkward and clever at the same time, yes, campy, wildly so. barbarella_shipThe lines of dialogue are equally outrageous; the characters are vapid and the plot pointless and confusing. At one point, Professor Ping (played by Marcel Marceau) tells Barbarella that the angel Pygar no longer has the will to fly and so cannot get her out of the labyrinth of evil in which she is trapped. Barbarella solves that by making love to him; and off they go. It’s as simple as that. barbarella_47The film begins on a fantastical note, mocking the violence of man: “Why would anyone want to invent a weapon?” Barbarella is genuinely confused; after all, anything is possible in science fiction. The answer is overtly stated throughout the film – all you need is love – and resolved in the same way. Pygar rescues not only Barbarella from certain death but also Tyrant, the evil queen. tyrantHis explanation, much like the logic of Chihiro in Miyazaki’s anime film Spirited Away, is that, “An angel has no memory.” chihroBarbarella herself is enigmatic. She repays everyone who saves her life with sex. The President prefers to share matters of state when she is naked. The Mad Doctor tries to destroy her with a sex machine – only to be foiled by Barbarella’s remarkable sexual threshold. She dresses like a space whore, but she isn’t. Why, you may ask, does she not do battle with clever tricks and big guns? As trite and misogynistic as it might sound, she is above it all. She is an innocent who wants to help mankind. excess machineRumor has it that a remake is in the works with a budget of $80 million and Rose McGowan to star.rose mcgowan I am dubious about a 21st Century Barbarella. I envision a multitude of bikinis and an excess of CGI. Fonda’s half-begotten Barbarella, in all of her wide-eyed stupor, is sure to be lost.