French theatrical poster
|Directed by||Roger Vadim|
|Produced by||Dino De Laurentiis|
|Written by||Vittorio Bonicelli
Clement Biddle Wood
|Screenplay by||Terry Southern
by Jean-Claude Forest
|Music by||Maurice Jarre (score)
Bob Crewe & Charles Fox (songs)
|Editing by||Victoria Mercanton|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Running time||98 minutes|
|Budget||$9 million (estimated)|
|Box office||$613,285 (USA) (1977)
AUD 14,376 (Australia) (1997)
ITL 648,900,000 (Italy) (1969)
Barbarella is a 1968 French-Italian science fiction film based on Jean-Claude Forest's French Barbarella comics. The film stars Jane Fonda in the title role and was directed by Roger Vadim, who was Fonda's husband at the time.
The film was not popular at its release, but received greater attention afterward with a 1977 re-release. It is regarded by some as a cult classic, and Jane Fonda's appearance in the film has become iconic.
In an unspecified future (the video release states it is the year 40,000), Barbarella (Jane Fonda) is assigned by the President of Earth (Claude Dauphin) to retrieve Doctor Durand Durand (Milo O'Shea) from the Tau Ceti region. Durand Durand is the inventor of the Positronic Ray, a weapon. Earth is now a peaceful planet, and weapons are unheard of. Because Tau Ceti is an unknown region of space there is the potential for the weapon to fall into the wrong hands. Donning the first of many outfits, Barbarella sets out to find the missing scientist. She crashes on the 16th planet of Tau Ceti, on an icy plain.
Barbarella is soon knocked unconscious by two mysterious girls who hit her on the forehead with a snowball and then capture her. Barbarella is taken to the wreckage of a spaceship called the Alpha 1. Inside the wreckage, she is tied up and several children emerge from within the ship. They set out several dolls which have razor sharp teeth. As the dolls begin to bite her, Barbarella faints but is rescued by Mark Hand (Ugo Tognazzi), the Catchman, who patrols the ice looking for errant children.
While taking her back to her ship, Barbarella offers to reward Mark and he asks to make love to her. She reveals that people on Earth no longer have penetrative intercourse, but make love by consuming exaltation transference pills, and pressing their palms together when their "psychocardiograms are in perfect harmony". Hand prefers the bed, and Barbarella agrees. Hand's vessel makes long loops around Barbarella's crashed vessel while the two make love, and when it finally comes to a stop, Barbarella is blissfully humming. Hand repairs her ship, and Barbarella departs, promising to return, and agreeing that doing things the old-fashioned way is sometimes best.
Barbarella's ship burrows through the planet, coming out next to a vast labyrinth. Upon emerging from her ship, she is knocked unconscious by a rockslide. She is found by a blind angel named Pygar (John Phillip Law). He states he is the last of the ornithanthropes, and that he has lost the will to fly. Barbarella discovers the labyrinth is a prison for people cast out of Sogo, the City of Night. Pygar introduces her to Professor Ping (Marcel Marceau), who offers to repair her ship. Ping also notes that Pygar is capable of flight, but merely lacks the will.
After Pygar saves her from the Black Guards, Barbarella shows her thanks by making love to him. As she hums to herself in his nest afterwards, Pygar soars overhead, having regained his will to fly. Pygar flies Barbarella to Sogo, using some of the weaponry she brought with her to destroy the city's guards. Sogo is a decadent city ruled over by the Great Tyrant and powered by a liquid essence of evil called the Mathmos.
Barbarella is briefly separated from Pygar, and meets a one-eyed wench who saves her from being assaulted by two of Sogo's residents. Barbarella soon reunites with Pygar and the two are taken by the Concierge (O'Shea) to meet the Great Tyrant. Pygar is left to become the Great Tyrant's plaything, while Barbarella is placed in a cage, to be pecked to death by birds (something Barbarella says is "much too poetic a way to die").
Barbarella is rescued by Dildano (David Hemmings), leader of the resistance to the Great Tyrant. Barbarella eagerly offers to reward him. As she begins to remove her torn suit, Dildano says he has the pill, and wants to experience love the Earth way. Dildano offers to help Barbarella find Durand Durand in exchange for her help in deposing the Great Tyrant. Barbarella is given an invisible key to the Tyrant's Chamber of Dreams, the only place she is vulnerable.
Barbarella is captured by the Concierge and she is placed inside the Excessive Machine. As the Concierge begins to play, Barbarella experiences increasing pleasure, and her clothing is expelled from the machine. The Concierge tells her when they reach the crescendo, she will die of pleasure. He then begins to play faster and more furiously, while Barbarella writhes in ecstasy inside the machine. Eventually, the machine overloads and burns out, unable to keep up with her. Barbarella then discovers the Concierge is none other than Durand Durand, aged thirty years due to the Mathmos.
Durand Durand traps Barbarella in the Tyrant's Chamber of Dreams, taking both keys and locking them inside. As he prepares to crown himself lord of Sogo, Dildano launches his revolution. Durand Durand uses his Positronic Ray to decimate the rebels. The Great Tyrant then releases the Mathmos, which consumes all of Sogo and Durand Durand with it. Barbarella and the Great Tyrant are protected from the Mathmos by Barbarella's innate goodness. They emerge from the Mathmos to find Pygar. Pygar then flies Barbarella and the Tyrant away from the Mathmos. When asked by Barbarella why he saved the Tyrant after everything she had done to him, Pygar responds, "An angel has no memory."
- Jane Fonda as Barbarella
- John Phillip Law as Pygar, the angel
- Anita Pallenberg (dubbed by Joan Greenwood) as The Great Tyrant, Black Queen of Sogo
- Milo O'Shea as Durand Durand / Concierge
- Marcel Marceau as Professor Ping
- David Hemmings as Dildano
- Claude Dauphin as President Dianthus of Earth
- Ugo Tognazzi as Mark Hand
- Fabienne Fabre as the tree woman
The film was both a box office and critical failure on its release. Variety's review stated that "Despite a certain amount of production dash and polish and a few silly-funny lines of dialogue, Barbarella isn't very much of a film. Based on what has been called an adult comic strip, the Dino De Laurentiis production is flawed with a cast that is not particularly adept at comedy, a flat script, and direction which can't get this beached whale afloat." Despite this, in the years since its initial release, Barbarella has garnered a cult following. It was re-released from 1977-1980 with a PG rating; the re-release found a bigger audience. Howard Stern talked about watching the film while on LSD in his book Private Parts. The film has garnered a 74% "fresh" rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
The film earned $2.5 million in North American theatre rentals in 1968.
A remake of Barbarella has been planned for years, starting soon after plans for a sequel with Fonda fell through in the mid to late 1970s. Original screenplay writer Roger Vadim said that he would be open to making a sequel with actresses Sherilyn Fenn or Drew Barrymore in the title role, but nothing came of it.
The most serious planning of the long proposed remake began in early 2008. This remake would have been produced and released by Universal Studios, with one time James Bond screenwriters Neal Purvis and Robert Wade penning the script, and Dino and Martha De Laurentiis heading as producers.
Sin City director Robert Rodriguez was soon after announced as the slated director for the remake. Early candidates for the role of Barbarella were actresses Erica Durance of the WB's Smallville, Sienna Miller, and Rodriguez's Grindhouse star Rose McGowan. Later news articles confirmed that McGowan had been cast as the title role. Universal Studios eventually backed out of the movie with some news sources speculating that it was due to studio executives doubting McGowan's ability to carry a big budget movie and that the studio had slashed the budget after learning of McGowan winning the role. Rodriguez denied this, stating, "Universal had initially signed on for $60 million, but then when we were done with the script it wound up at closer to $82 million."
Due to Universal insisting on lowering the cost of the film and on recasting the role of Barbarella, Rodriguez shopped the remake to other studios in the hopes of gaining a larger budget allowance and retaining McGowan as Barbarella. Rodriguez has stated that the large budget needs stem from the fact that the majority of the movie takes place in outer space, and that "we don’t want the movie to look like the original." Rodriguez said he abandoned the project in May 2009 after he turned down a $70 million budget that required shooting in Germany. Expressing regret for the undone film, he thought he could not be away from his five children for as long as it would take if shot in Germany.
Director Nicolas Winding Refn is currently attached to the project.
In popular culture
- The name of 1980s music group Duran Duran was inspired by the name of Dr. Durand Durand in this film.
- In the Absolutely Fabulous episode "Schmoozin'", Patsy Stone acted in a sexploitation film 'Boobarella' in a satiric film evoking elements of Barbarella.
- In Pretty Little Liars, Emily dresses up as Barbarella for the Halloween episode, "This is a Dark Ride."
- Mathmos is the name of a company specializing in the design and manufacture of lava lamps.
- The music video of Kylie Minogue's 1994 song "Put Yourself in My Place" is similar to the opening scene of Barbarella, where she slowly removes her space suit while floating in zero gravity. Likewise, the music video of the 1997 Bee Gees song "Alone" echoes the same scene.
- The video to Fuzzbox's 1989 hit, "International Rescue", partly spoofs this film with lead singer, Vicki Perks, dressed as Fonda's Barbarella.
- The Arctic Monkeys song "Arabella" from their fifth album AM describes the space age lover Arabella: "She's got a Barbarella silver swim suit"
- The Internet Movie Database
- "Barbarella – Queen of the Galaxy (France – Italy)". Variety. 1 January 1968. Retrieved 17 May 2008.
- "Barbarella Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 24 December 2010.
- "Big Rental Films of 1968", Variety, 8 January 1969 p 15. Please note this figure is a rental accruing to distributors.
- "Barbarella". Archived from the original on 7 March 2009. Retrieved 30 May 2012.
- Fleming, Michael (11 April 2007). "'Barbarella' back in action". Variety. Retrieved 17 May 2008.
- "Robert Rodriguez to Direct Barbarella". ComingSoon.net. 22 May 2007. Retrieved 26 September 2011.
- ELLE (30 September 2007). "Breaking News". Fashion.elle.com. Retrieved 26 September 2011.
- Matt Holmes (18 October 2007). "Universal not Fonda of Rose as BARBARELLA". Retrieved 30 May 2012.
- Morgan, Spencer (16 October 2007). "Barbar-hella! Robert Rodriguez Is Fonda of Rose McGowan in Queen of the Galaxy Role, But Universal Winces". New York Observer. Archived from the original on 19 October 2007. Retrieved 17 October 2007.
- "Robert Rodriguez scraps Barbarella remake". Thaindian.com. Sampun Wire. 7 May 2009. Retrieved 13 August 2010.
- Wendy Mitchell (6 August 2009). "New 'Barbarella' expected to be sexy but less campy". News-briefs.ew.com. Time Inc. Retrieved 13 August 2010.
|This article needs additional citations for verification. (October 2011)|
|Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Barbarella|
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Barbarella (film).|
- Barbarella at the Internet Movie Database
- Barbarella at the TCM Movie Database
- Barbarella at allmovie
- Barbarella at Box Office Mojo
- Barbarella at Rotten Tomatoes
- Heavy Metal Magazine Fan Page for 1968 movie
- Overview of the development of the remake film