Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Psychedelic Free Love Utopias and Friendly Angels, or Thoughts on Jane Fonda’s Barbarella

One of the most scandalous, and now by contemporary standards, not even slightly risqué, Barbarella (1968) opens with Jane Fonda’s zero gravity strip tease in her fur-lined space ship to a mod bossa nova theme.  This breezy, flirty, and super-stylish erotic sci-fi adventure set in the year 40,000 is based on the 1962 French comic of the same name by Jean-Claude Forest, and pretty much single handedly created the entire genre of the modern sexy sci-fi action heroine.
Directed by then-husband Roger Vadim of And God Created Woman (Et Dieu… créa la femme, 1956, with Brigitte Bardot), Jane Fonda portrays the eponymous space adventurer who is recruited by the President of Earth to track down Durand Durand, a missing scientist.  And if that name sounds like 80’s New Wave super group Duran Duran, that’s no coincidence, this is the movie that inspired their name.  Along the way she has a number of sexy adventures, no different than any James Bond movie at the time, but with the sexes reversed and no double standard (it’s the future).
A lady Flash Gordon (1980, and also produced by Dino De Laurentis) with a wardrobe by Paco Rabanne, Barbarella also features John Phillip Law as Pygar, the blind angel and David Hemmings, most remembered for Antonioni’s Blow Up (1966) as Dildano, a very friendly resistance leader.  And watch out for Rolling Stones muse Anita Pallenberg as the Black Queen of SoGo.

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