Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Film Review: Barbarella

The fifth film from the ‘Worlds Apart’ film programme to watch was Barbarella, which was directed by Roger Vadim and released in 1968.

Truth be told Barbarella doesn't solely stick to a particular genre and if you've seen the film you'll understanding what is meant by this. It picks on a bit of everything as reviewer Kim Newman writes for Empire Magazine; 

"Barbarella is cheerfully catch-all in its mix of notional sci-fi elements (spaceships, other planets, super-weapons) with even more fantastical fairytale gambits (angels, suits of living leather, invisible keys) and bits of business taken from genres as far afield as the swashbuckler, the avant garde art movie ("psychedelic" and decadent imagery courtesy of Fellini and Godard) and even the porno film (Fonda does a zero-g strip under the credits and has bizarre sex with most of the male character"

Barbarella is an exploration of genres, Roger Vadim didn't appear to want to stick to a single genre, no that was too boring. Instead he takes a little of every and mixes it up so that the audience can't tell or begin to guess what is next to come (unless you've seen the film of course). It is rare to find a film that does everything and that is meant literally. 

Sexual intentions are a very obvious and vital role in this film as Film4 relay in their review;

"...consisted of Fonda either in peril or preparing to have another other-worldly, futuristic sexual experience."

Barbarella doesn't just use sexual scenes, it abuses them and thrives on it. It would be difficult to find a scene in which Jane Fonda isn't stripping or having some sort of sexual encounter which begs the question of why this film is rated as a 15. If you're really pushing it, Barbarella isn't much more than a high budget fantasy/sci-fi porno film which would be completely inappropriate for adolescents. 

And then there's the story. Cliche but in a sexual way. The 'must save the universe from an evil force' has been done before and leads to the belief that Vadim couldn't be bothered to invent something new for a film that's so exploratory.  Almar Haflidason writing for the BBC says;

"With peace at threat, Fonda is forced to battle through an incredible amount of indignities on increasingly fur-lined planets"

We all know that the cliche story works but to use it for something as original as Barbarella is a bit of an insult. It isn't that hard to come up with something new that fits more to the characters and if Vadim chose to do something like it the story would be so bad.

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