Barbarella: Silliness in a 1960s space suit
This movie is just silly. Whether or not you'll like it really depends on how tolerant you are of silliness in your science fiction, and if you were looking for something meaningful with thought-provoking themes, "Barbarella" is not it.
If, on the other hand, you just want some silly fun and to see Jane Fonda in various stages of undress, this very well might be the movie for you.
Jane Fonda plays the titular character, a young woman who is given a mission from the President of Earth to track down a rogue scientist named Durand Durand (Milo O'Shea), who vanished in the vicinity of the uncharted planet Tau Ceti. As Durand was apparently working on a new weapon called a positronic ray (in an age where humanity has transcended war and weapons have been consigned to museums), this is a concern. Barbarella sets out for Tau Ceti, but once she gets there her ship is grounded thanks to a convenient magnetic storm.
As Barbarella explores Tau Ceti, she discovers its inhabitants are significantly less advanced than humanity, stil reveling in violence and engaging in sex (something that humanity has apparently transcended, although Barbarella discovers she rather likes it). The capital city of Sogo, ruled over by the Black Queen (Anita Pallenburg), is full of depraved and perverted individuals, while the virtuous--including the handsome and literally angelic winged man Pygar-- have been driven out to the Labirynth around the city. Amongst all this mess, will Barbarella be able to find Durand Durand?
in the end, it barely matters. The story as a whole is somewhat picaresque (which makes some sense, as its an adaptation of a whole series of French erotic comics), going from one mess to another as Barbarella runs into all sorts of weird characters and unusual situations. As I said before, this movie has approximately the emotional and thematic heft of a bag of potato chips, but it does keep up a light and humorous tone throughout, so it's able to run on fun alone.
One issue with the plot and how Barbarella acts is the rather shockingly casualness of the sex in this movie. At least twice a man saves Barbarella, and when she asks what he wants in return, the answer is sex. Now, one of these times, the man in question is the silly resistance leader Dildano whose sheer goofiness somehow alleviates the inherent issue, but this is still a man being paid with sex to save a woman. it's more than a little disturbing. Then again, this movie features an execution machine that orgasms its victim to death, so some slack can be given if the viewer deems it appropriate.
All in all, although this is basically just Jane Fonda in various silly costumes falling into one weird situation or another, it's still entertaining and fun. Check it out if you want some classic 1960s silliness
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