BARBARELLA: QUEEN OF THE GALAXY  [Blu-ray] [US Import] She’s Out Of This World! Who Can Save The Universe!
The year is 40,000 on Planet Lythion where Barbarella [Jane Fonda] makes a forced landing during a secret mission to find the lost evil scientist Durand Durand [Milo O'Shea]. Once there, she must use her skills, style, beauty and eroticism to vanquish evil in the form of robots and monsters. See Barbarella do her thing in the wild excessive machine, in the biting bird cage, in the chamber of dreams, in the labyrinth of love, in the deadly doll house, in the palace of pleasure. You'll find adventure beyond your imagination, when you get lost in space with Barbarella! It has since become a brilliant cult film.
Cast: Jane Fonda, John Phillip Law, Anita Pallenberg, Milo O'Shea, Marcel Marceau, Claude Dauphin, Véronique Vendell, Giancarlo Cobelli, Serge Marquand, Nino Musco, Franco Gulà, Catherine Chevallier, Marie Therese Chevallier, Umberto Di Grazia, David Hemmings, Ugo Tognazzi, Vita Borg, Chantal Cachin, Fabienne Fabre, Diane Bond, Sergio Ferrero, Corinne Fontaine, Judith Matah, Susan Moren, Robert Rietty (Professor Ping voice) and Joan Greenwood (The Great Tyrant (voice) uncredited)
Director: Roger Vadim
Producer: Dino De Laurentiis
Screenplay: Roger Vadim, Terry Southern, Claude Brulé, Vittorio Bonicelli, Clement Biddle Wood, Brian Degas, Tudor Gates and Jean-Claude Forest (story)
Composer: Maurice Jarre and Charles Fox
Cinematography: Claude Renoir
Fashion Designer: Paco Rabanne
Video Resolution: 1080p [Technicolor]
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1 [Panavision]
Audio: English: 1.0 Mono Dolby TrueHD, French: 1.0 Mono Dolby Digital and Spanish: 1.0 Mono Dolby Digital
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish and Portuguese
Running Time: 98 minutes
Region: Region A/1
Number of discs: 1
Studio: Paramount Pictures
Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: My goodness, this is pulp science-fiction at its finest. Roger Vadim's cult 1960s sci-fi fantasy, starring Jane Fonda. A beautiful young astronaut uses the power of love to fight the forces of evil in the 41st century. ‘Barbarella’ is best known as the famed French comic strip comes to glorious psychedelic life in this 41st-century space opera from director Roger Vadim. Once you get past Jane Fonda's infamous antigravity striptease however, the script turns rather dull and the imaginative sets steal the whole show as Fonda's nubile intergalactic bimbo experiences close encounters of the sexually bizarre kind. A pleasure machine, cannibalistic dolls and Anita Pallenberg's Black Queen help ease the verbal vacuum in Vadim's relentless visual assault, which is sure to delight some and prove tiresome to others.
The film starts out with Barbarella dressed in a spacesuit floating around in a zero gravity room with furry carpet on the walls and ceiling. She then proceeds to strip out of the spacesuit until she is naked, all still while floating in zero gravity and while a 1960s pop song plays. That 5 or so minute opening really sums up the film perfectly. After an in-flight anti-gravity striptease (masked by the film’s opening titles), Barbarella, a 41st century astronaut, lands on the Planet Lythion and sets out to find the evil Durand Durand in the city of Sogo, where a new sin is invented every hour. There, she encounters such objects as the Excessive Machine, a genuine sex organ on which an accomplished artist of the keyboard, in this case, Durand Durand himself, can drive a victim to death by pleasure, a lesbian queen who, in her dream chamber, can make her fantasies take form, and a group of ladies smoking a giant hookah which, via a poor victim struggling in its glass globe, dispenses Essence of Man. You can’t help but be impressed by the special effects crew and the various ways that were found to tear off what few clothes our heroine seemed to possess.
The film never takes itself serious and it even makes fun of itself a few times through. I can only imagine this must have been fun as hell for the actors to film. It's pure light-hearted pulp B-movie goodness. Everything from the film to the poster art and misleading subtitle "Queen of the Galaxy," this film breathes pulp sci-fi. The entire film, from the effects to the plot and also to the visuals, is totally light-hearted nature and experience.
Jane Fonda is of course is beautiful, but so are the great set and costume designs. They intentionally make Barbarella ruin her clothing so she can show off in a new costume. I found myself looking forward to seeing what retro outfit she'd put on next (partly because Jane Fonda is stunning, partly because the costume design is awesome.
Aside from great set and costume design this film, believe it or not, actually has some genuine artistic merit. The cinematography I found to be fairly good, especially for a film of this kind of nature, that is. There were some cool shots and overall the film is pretty visually appealing and I'm not just talking about Jane Fonda. The soundtrack has some great 1960s pop tunes.
It is sexy, it is camp, it is cheesy, it is funny, it is totally retro, and it is 1960s, oh so French-y, and of course it is of totally awesome fun. And ultimately it achieves its goal by translating the erotic pulp fiction “Barbarella” comic strip it is based on to film. Though I personally have not read the comics, it seems that this is one of the best and most truthful adaptions I've seen. Of course the plot is very silly and ridiculous, but that's what makes it a great escapism film. Would you really watch this film for its plot? And sure Barbarella is not a particularly kick-ass heroine. She is very easily knocked unconscious and her best defence is screaming for help. But none of that matters, and it seems that all of it was intentional. And to those who think ‘Barbarella’ is sexist, well sure Barbarella is kind of a helpless young woman, who uses sex to her advantage, but also for pleasure, but the original “Barbarella” comic strip and of course the film as well, I suppose did help start and fuel the Sexual Revolution in the 1960s.
Filled with bizarre scenery and over the top characters, the filmmakers introduced us to things like the Excessive Machine, an organ, if played with enough skill, will cause death from sexual pleasure. Bad guy, Durand Durand, has those skills. Sogo, the space port Barbarella is trying to make it to, invents a new sin every hour. Factor in the lesbian queen that can make fantasies become reality, giant hookah pipes, and every manner of cheesy special effects that 1968 had to offer and you will be glad you will spend 98 minutes watching this film. The score is brilliant of course, and dripping with 1960’s psychedelic and sexuality.
Even with its flaws ‘Barbarella,’ is a joy to watch. Its special effects are kitsch by today’s standards, but are filled with charm and often very well done. The music is suitably “swinging,” “jive” and “cool.” The music is brilliantly composed by Maurice Jarre and this is one of those warts and all experiences that I would like to believe that no-one could truly hate. Surely everyone gets some level of enjoyment from this film, even if it is this joyously silly and daft? I cannot, in good conscience, call ‘Barbarella’ a poor film. This is a work of some kind of pop art type experience and that is what matters. Its influence is spread everywhere from sci-fi, to music to even Avant Garde fashion designs. ‘Barbarella’ is also the first science fiction comic book character to have a feature length film adaptation produced. Prior to sci-fi comics that had only been adapted as serials. When watching this film, I am always reminded at how boundary pushing this must have been in 1968. Regardless of the actual technical quality, ‘Barbarella’ is a bona fide (hehe… bona) cult classic of a film!
Blu-ray Video Quality – Paramount Picture's Blu-ray release of ‘Barbarella’ is totally marvellous. Film grain is abundant, but in a good way. Every image is finely detailed and you can clearly see the unavoidable generation loss in shots that were subjected to an optical effect, mainly the opening titles. The rest looks pretty much like it was scanned from the original negative, which is the best of all possible worlds. The 1999 inferior NTSC DVD was bad by the standards of today, and it never resolved any of the grain problems or the fine detail, and this 1080p encoded image upgrade makes the colour-grading a total benchmark. It does, however, add a significant amount of information to the bottom and right-hand edges of the 2.35:1 frame, noticeably improving the composition of the image proportion shots. The DVD transfer was totally dirty, too, with lots of dust and even thick bits of hair clearly visible on screen in the opening moments and the source material was probably an inter-negative, and none of that nonsense is visible on the Blu-ray Disc. There is some slight damage, but it is only light, that you really have to be looking closely for you to notice. Thanks, Paramount Pictures!
Blu-ray Audio Quality – There's not much to grouse about when it comes to audio, either. Although the 1.0 Mono Dolby TrueHD soundtrack, is spread out across the two front channels, it sounds great at full volume, certainly obviating any need to buy a Compact Disc Soundtrack in hearing "Barbarella Psychedella" theme song, which you will be stuck humming for a week after watching this film. If dialogue can occasionally sound a little bit muffled, I'm sure that's a limitation of the original recordings, not the Blu-ray itself.
Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:
Theatrical Trailer  [1080i] [2.35:1] [3:20]
Finally, this Blu-ray disc is classy from top to bottom. The most I can find to moan about is the decided lack of extras and there is just a 1080p Theatrical Trailer seemingly transferred from a soft release print, so there is a limit to what could be done even if Paramount Pictures had the will. This is still a great 1080p HD version of a film that most viewers would say doesn't deserve the treatment, and for that I'm grateful. If you have never seen ‘Barbarella,’ you are in for a visual treat. A precursor in many ways to the campy, exciting Flash Gordon in the eighties ‘Barbarella’ is a product of its time. It is not a bad film, but there is enough sauciness in the dialogue, sexual plot elements and sci-fi camp to be enjoyed by connoisseurs of this form of entertainment or to be warmly received by long-time fans of the film. This is an all-time favourite film of mine and seeing ‘Barbarella’ once again, and honestly, I had a total blast and you will also with this brilliant sci-fi cult classic! Highly Recommended!
Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Fan
Le Cinema Paradiso
WARE, United Kingdom