Thursday, 25 October 2012


Barbarella Review (1968)

figure 1: the poster

From the beginning of the film, Barberella shows clearly not only that it is a product of its time, but aimed firmly at a male audience. Based off of the French Comic strip by Jean-Claude Forest, the film has a very playful ’60’s feel about it. It was released during an age of ‘free love’, where sexual freedom was embraced. This is a film which appears on one hand to be campy, colourful and innocent; however the amount of sexual situations Barbarella (played by Jane Fonda) is put in, makes the film feel unbalanced. It verges on making some scenes feel uncomfortable, simply down to the fact that the target audience is so clearly male, leaving nothing but colours and cute imagery for a female audience. An example would be the opening scene; Barbarella slowly undresses as the credits roll. 
However, there is still something charming about the character of Barbarella. She seems to channel some of Elizabeth Montgomery’s (T.V show Bewitched) mannerisms; particularly that of always being polite, no matter what situation she is in. 
figure 2: Barbarella

The visuals in Barbarella however, are creative and quirky. It has a cheap, makeshift feel throughout, which fits the tone perfectly. "My then husband, Roger Vadim, came up with all these ideas for how to create special effects and no one had ever done it before, so it's kind of fun." (Fonda, 2011)
Many scenes succeed in creating tension, whilst at the same time, keeping the humor intact. Most notably the doll scene during the beginning of the film; although it is in reality a goofy scene, the scene still offers suspense and at the same time, its humor. 

figure 3: flesh eating dolls

The humor in the movie can fall flat, since the jokes are mainly sexual, leaving not much variety, and becoming boring. "Throughout the movie, there is the assumption that just mentioning a thing (sex, politics, religion) makes it funny and that mentioning it in some offensive context....makes it funnier." (Adler, 1968) 

Today, the star Jane Fonda believes that the film is "a charming camp movie, not very sexy."(Fonda, 2011)
Barbarella is filmly a product of its time, which dates the film greatly. It is a film which could be described as marmite; it is either loved, or its hated. 


RENATA ADLER (accessed 

Jane Fonda


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