Barbarella (1968)

Theater PosterRated: PG
Duration: 1h 38min
IMDB Genre Listing: Adventure, Comedy, Fantasy
Released (USA): October 10, 1968
BIYF Year: 1998 (BIYF I)

Director: Roger Vadim
Producer: Dino De Laurentiis
Writer: Terry Southern, Roger Vadim
Music: Charles Fox
Starring: Jane Fonda, John Phillip Law, Anita Pallenberg, Marcel Marceau, Ugo Tognazzi

IMDB Description: In the far future, a highly sexual woman is assigned with finding and stopping the evil Durand-Durand. Along the way, she encounters various unusual people.

NY Times | Black Hole | 366 Weird Movies

Yep, pan and scan.
An actual image of “Barbarella” (on VHS) playing on Bricker and Malla’s classic cathode ray tube TV during the first “Beer Is Your Friend” weekend in 1998.

I could take a moment here to comment on Barbarella‘s place in BIYF History. Perhaps I would talk about its spot as a foundational brick in the BIYF Viewing temple. (See previous post for “BIYF Historical” context. -Editor)

I could use this space to write about how this film also fits into the three criteria that my theoretical construct of what makes a “successful” BIYF film proposes. How it overreaches some high ambitions of trying to mash-up a dozen different, disparate genres. How, while undoubtably camp, it is played very, very straight – taking its camp very seriously. How, despite critics and commercial failure, people keep trying to make the next, new Barbarella but are unable to capture the charm or essence of the ways the original managed to succeed. (See previous post for “Successful BIYF Film” context and reviews linked near the top of this post for critique & Barbarella-specific information. -Editor)

I could spend this post trying to talk about the context of Barbarella in the history of film, even feminist film, or please Sandman by taking a contrary, off-topic stance and blasting Hanoi Jane for her actions unrelated to this film. (See contextual links above. -Editor)

I could do any and all of these things, but let’s face it: We’re really just here for the fashion, aren’t we?

Outfit #1
Perhaps everyone’s least favorite Barbarella outfit, the full-body spacesuit.
Nude Interlude #1
After removing the spacesuit, Barbarella spends some time between outfits while she takes a call. Hey buddy, those aren’t her eyes.
Outfit #2
Good for piloting and crashing your spaceship as well as crawling around in deep shag carpeting and sleeping on a clear vinyl sheet, Barbarella’s next outfit makes time fly by in style aboard the Alpha 7. Why yes, those ARE peekaboo panels in the top for all your cheesecake needs!
Outfit #3
Whether it’s taking on creepy sets of wig-wearing twins, blue bunnies, killer dolls, or hirsute rescuers, this outfit has you covered. Until the dolls shred it with their shrike-like metal teeth.
Nude Interlude #2
After ditching the remnants of her last outfit and learning how to do things the old-fashioned way with a guy in a bear suit, Barbarella pauses to stretch and bask in the moment au naturel aboard his transport.
Outfit #4
When her rescuer tells her to choose an outfit from his collection of furs, Barbarella selects this fetching number that should have Pepé Le Pew chasing after her in no time.
Outfit #5
After getting her tail repeatedly stuck in things and literally screwing her ship into the planet, Barbarella picks out this outfit for exploring the labyrinth near the city of Sogo and making friends with its inhabitants.
Nude Interlude #3
I’m not sure what happened to the last outfit, but it’s MIA after Barbarella gives Pygar the blind angel the will to fly again.
Outfit #6
For her assault on Sogo, home of the evil Great Tyrant, Barbarella selects this versatile combination. Whether it’s a flying dogfight while being carried in the arms of an angel, navigating a local hive of scum and villainy, or being caged with and pecked by all of the parakeets money can rent, this ensemble will go the distance. Until it disintegrates.
Outfit #7
After meeting and engaging in modern, pill-based relations with Dildano, the leader of Sogo’s resistance, Barbarella dons an outfit he provides for a secret mission. Even a snazzy outfit with a couple peekaboo windows won’t hide you from Durand Durand, however.
Nude Interlude #4
That suit doesn’t stay on for long as it is soon stripped off by the Excessive Machine in a bit of mechanized foreplay. But Barbarella has the last moan when she proves excess is never enough.
Outfit #8
When Durand Durand’s Excessive Machine whimpers and bursts into flame, the crazed scientist thoughtfully provides Barbarella with her final outfit, presumably assembled from the remnants of clothing worn by the machine’s earlier victims. Versatile enough for a visit to the evil queen’s bedchamber or for witnessing the destruction of an evil realm, this flattering apparel will make you green with envy.

But Barbarella isn’t the only one with style in this film:

So pretty, pretty.
Whether undercover among her subjects or ruling with a deliciously evil and supple iron fist, the Great Tyrant refuses to be denied her pretty, pretty… couture.

And just in case you thought this film was only about the ladies, check out these slices of Grade A Beefcake:

That is not a bear.
Does this count as a Guy in a Bear Suit? I’m saying yes.
We'll meet again, JPL.
He’s heavenly!

OK, you got me. It’s all about the ladies and their fancy get-ups.

Even so, the film itself doesn’t spend a lot of time taking long, lingering shots that show the outfits full-length which makes it difficult to grab any really good screenshots of them. To rectify that, here’s a selection of publicity stills for you as a parting gift:

What’s your favorite outfit? Should I have actually written a review? Is this too much cheesecake? Is that possible? Should I have spent some time talking about that deleted scene? You know the one. Well, I’m betting Rollerballer does, anyway. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.

6 thoughts on “Barbarella (1968)”

  1. I am partial to the final, green outfit myself. Another delightful trip back to BIYF I! Also, I enjoy both your words and pictures. Whatever you want to provide us with will be enjoyed.

    1. I also like the green one, though the labyrinth outfit and the Alpha 7 outfit appeal as well. And the between outfits outfit.

      That labyrinth one as pictured in the publicity still would make a good silhouette icon to go with our BIYF X Zed one. Just swap out the hair dryer gun for a bottle. Her white boots vs. Zed’s black boots. Hmm… maybe after the Binge.

  2. I remember how hard we laughed when the one guy unzipped his feather suit and then appeared to have a fur suit on underneath. Maybe he’s more of a Bear (in the modern sense) in a bird suit.

    Also, first appearance of BIYF favorite John Phillip Law!

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