Barbarella (1968), or Low Tolerance For Nudity

2 06 2009

In the fortieth century, I sure as hell HOPE the world is even remotely as cool as the world painted in today’s picture, Barbarella. There’s all kinds of futuristic gadgets, awesome alien races; the usual bit. But what really gets me is the innuendo in the year 4000. This is one randy century to be living in. Sure, space travel is possible and we’re in contact with intelligent life-forms not unlike ourselves, but look at those knockers!!!

If you are aware of the cultural impact of the movie Barbarella, you probably have a good idea of what this movie is all about. Even for the 60s, the sci-fi plot is extremely flimsy, borderline hilarious. Basically, Barbarella is some super-astronaut-agent-spy-explorer in the 41st century. She gets a call from the President of Earth (we’re all one big family by then), who is telling her to find and kill Dr. Durand-Durand and stop him from writing “Girls On Film”. Or stop him from destroying something. It really doesn’t matter. Every scene is a separate sexy vignette involving Barbarella on different crazy planets with horny guys all around her. Everyone wants to fuck Barbarella, and while I can’t blame them, it seems somewhat insane that despite all the races and all the different species of man floating around in space, the entire universe thinks that Earth girls are easy and wants a shot at the lusty and beautiful human.

This is one of the better exploitation films I’ve ever seen, albeit one of the stingiest. Barbarella promises rampant sex and filthiness, but it appears to be all talk and no real game. It’s actually quite tasteful, only showing off one or two breast shots, and not very close at that. I’m no dirty old man, but when I hear about some sort of carnal iniquity, I’m all the way in or I’m all the way out. You better show some hot stuff or just keep on walking. Barbarella wants to have its cake and fuck it too. I can respect that, but why make that such a big part of the movie? Hell, sex is the linchpin to the whole damn plot! There’s sex torturing devices, sex pills, and actual deaths by sex on screen!

But for what it’s worth, it’s pretty good. I had a hearty laugh with much of the plot, a few amazing one-liners (“De-crucify the angel or I’ll MELT YOUR FACE OFF!”), and some nutty side characters. It’s kind of like a sex comedy, but it doesn’t know if it wants to be a comedy. It’s stuck in that semi-serious limbo between comedic and dramatic called bizarre, and that might be the funniest thing of all! You never know what to expect with this film, and that’s always a good thing to be able to say.

The actors perform well-enough. Jane Fonda is Barbarella, and she exudes space-sex. I caught a little campiness to her performance, which leads me to believe she wasn’t taking this TOO seriously, a very good sign. A young John Phillip Law, the soon-to-be famous character actor, is here as the sexy angel Pygar. With a wooden delivery that would become his trademark, he says dynamite lines like, “An angel does not make love, an angel IS love” with the ambition of someone reading the phone book. And Marcel Marceau plays the wild and crazy Professor Ping. He is a genius, and I love him, even when he appears in very uncharacteristic roles, like this.

I would check it out. It’s not so tame that you could see it with your kids, but it’s probably tame enough for you to see it with your mother or father. It talks a good game, but there’s nowhere near the amount of sex I was expecting out of the 41st century. Alas, I’ll just use good ol’ fashioned 21st century porn for that. Anyway, it’s worth a look as a curiosity, and it might easily become your favorite guilty pleasure very quickly. I give Barbarella 7 De-crucified angels out of 10.

Tomorrow I take a look at Eddie Murphy’s decline with Vampire In Brooklyn!


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One response

2 06 2009
Bren

At any time during the movie, does someone mention that Dr. Durand-Durand is “hungry like the wolf”?

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