Blu-ray: Jane Fonda is ‘Barbarella’ – Space-Age Sex Kitten

Barbarella (Paramount), a campy psychedelic romp produced by Italian Dino de Laurentiis, directed by French eroticist Roger Vadim, adapted from a risqué French comic strip by American satirist Terry Southern, and featuring an international cast, was Buck Rogers reworked as a sex kitten in space for the 1960s culture of free love and pop art. Jane Fonda is the shagadelic space-age heroine, a galaxy-hopping agent and adventuress ready to make love and war with equal fervor, and she opens the film with a teasing zero-gravity strip tease just barely obscured by the credits. The rest of the film, an odyssey to rescue a missing scientist and his newly-developed weapon, mixes Flash Gordon and the Marquis de Sade with director Roger Vadim’s love of undressing beautiful women on the screen: psychedelic fantasy posing as science fiction with Fonda (who was married to Vadim at the time) as an innocent who embraces sex without self-consciousness and approaches every situation with a wide-eyed naïveté.

It’s pure adolescent fantasy, like a pulp paperback cover populated by Hugh Hefner’s stable of playmates, and somehow it still manages to remain PG! Vadim’s fantastic imagery is still retro-cool, a triumph of set design and wild color over story and character, but his special effects have all the sophistication of a fifties B-movie in fetish gear and pop-art color. John Phillip Law shows off his physique as a blind, blond angel, Anita Pallenberg (her voice dubbed by the purring Joan Greenwood) is the sadistic Black Queen, and David Hemmings, Milo O’Shea and Marcel Marceau co-star.

More Blu-ray releases, plus the “Barbarella” trailer, at Videodrone

Author: seanax

I write the weekly newspaper column Stream On Demand and the companion website (www.streamondemandathome.com). I'm a contributing writer for Turner Classic Movies Online, Keyframe, Independent Lens, and Cinephiled, and the editor of Parallax View (www.parallax-view.org).. I've written for The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, The Seattle Weekly, GreenCine.com, Senses of Cinema, Asian Cult Cinema, and Psychotronic Video, among other publications, and I am a contributing editor to Parallax View. I currently live and work in Seattle, Washington, with my two cats, Hammet and Chandler.

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