When viewing the 1968 cult classic, "Barbarella," today's audiences may find it difficult to accept high-power activist/feminist Jane Fonda portraying the airheaded, intergalactic nymphette. Yet one must forgive a great deal of this film, an absurd amalgam of science fiction, anti-war propaganda, and soft-core porn.
With over a dozen films to her credit, Fonda was already a star when she opted to stay in France with her then husband, director Roger Vadim, and bring to life the sexy, comic-strip heroine. To do so, she turned down the leads in Hollywood's "Rosemary's Baby" and "Bonnie and Clyde." Directly following the critical and box-office fiasco, she managed to redeem herself with two great films, "They Shoot Horses, Don't They" and "Klute." Undeniably,"Barbarella" first brought notoriety to the ingénue, who was to remain controversial in both her public and private lives.
Living in a groovy space pad, completely covered in harvest-gold shag-carpeting, Barbarella is skyped by the President of Earth, who seeks her help in preventing war, an antiquated concept in the year 40,000. It is not clear why she was singled out for such a vital task, since her sole credentials are confined to a tight-fitting leotard. Facing a variety of male adversaries, she copulates her way through a series of "sticky" situations, ultimately achieving her goal.
Having suffered several croppings on prior video releases, "Barbarella" looks sensational on Paramount's new widescreen/high-definition Blu-ray. The colors are luxurious, and the picture, save for a few shots, is lucid and sharp. The only disappointment is that the extras (plural) turn out to be only the theatrical trailer.
Not intended as a sequel to "War and Peace," "Barbarella is played fairly tongue-in-cheek---and there are a slew of sexy men to watch. In Paramount's terrific new Blu-ray transfer, the film can be thoroughly enjoyed as a kitschy curio from the Peace and Love generation.
Barbarella, Queen of the Galaxy