Directed by Roger Vadim. France. 1968. NR. 98 minutes. Paramount. Digital.
Sun., July 24, 2016
Those who only know Jane Fonda from her recent hit TV show Grace and Frankie are in for a bit of a surprise when they see Barbarella, one of Lady Janes earliest starring roles. For instance, the title credits roll over Miss Fonda as she performs what is basically an anti-gravity strip-tease, as she slips out of her space suit (the film takes place in the 41st century) into her birthday suit. (Well, almost – the titles hide most of the naughty bits). Based upon a popular French comic strip, and directed with tongue firmly in cheek by Fondas then-husband, Roger Vadim, this is part futuristic sci-fi adventure, part pre-feminist erotic fantasy, and all fun. The plot, such as it is, is simple: Fondas Barbarella is a nubile James Bond-like outer-space spy (with touches of Little Annie Fanny) who searches the universe for a lost scientist and his positronic ray (!?) If you ever wondered what the 1960s concept of camp was all about, this is about as good an example as you will find. (And yes, its true. The famed 1980s pop group did take their name from that of the scientist that Barbarella is searching for, Duran Duran. Just thought you might like to know.) (Bill Roth)