Site created 12/15/97.
review added: 2/22/01
of the Galaxy
1968 (1999) - Paramount
review by Dan Kelly of
The Digital Bits
Disc Ratings (Video/Audio/Extras): B/B/D-
Specs and Features
98 mins, PG, letterboxed widescreen (2.35:1), 16x9 enhanced,
single-sided, single-layered, Amaray keep case packaging, theatrical
trailer, film-themed menu screens, scene access (19 chapters),
languages: English and French (DD 2.0), subtitles: none, Close
is one of the big hallmarks of grade B cinema. It has everything
drive-in fans have come to love - unnecessary nudity, low production
values, absolutely horrible special effects, scary dolls with sharp
teeth and horny old men with obscenely furry chests. The funny thing
is, for the period this movie was made, it was relatively
big-budgeted. You have to wonder, looking ahead to the award-winning
films that Jane Fonda would go on to make, what made her choose this
role. I don't know how she managed to walk through this movie and
still look like she's taking it seriously. But she did... even while
doing a zero-gravity strip routine. Needless to say, the film
wouldn't be the same without her in the lead role.
Barbarella lives in the future, the year 40,000 to be exact. This
is a future of peace, love, hallucinogenic drugs and shag-carpeted
walls. Since she is a "five star, double rated,
astronavigatrix," the president (of the world, universe, solar
system?) enlists her help in locating Duran Duran, the inventor of
the positronic ray. It seems that he was abducted and taken to Tau
Ceti while on his way to the North Star.
The actual rescue of Duran Duran from Tau Ceti is not the
centerpiece of the story in Barbarella,
rather it is her journey there. She crash lands on a planet, where
she uses her God-given assets to help her along. It's on Tau Ceti
that she discovers the joys of lovemaking that employs actual human
contact and not sensation through a pill. Later, she encounters
Pygar, a winged man without sight who lost his ability to fly. She
needs him to get to the city of Sago, which is high on a hill.
Through the miracle of sex, the power of flight is restored in
Pygar, and he helps her gain access to the city.
Barbarella is a fun movie, if
you're not looking to answer the questions of the universe. It
dwells too long in its campiness at times, and this really makes the
movie drag out longer than it should. But if ever there were a movie
of pure eye candy, this is it. The sets are a visual wonder unto
themselves. The set designers obviously made no attempt to hide the
fact that these are sound stages. If you thought the sets on the
original Star Trek series were
something, get a load of these. No words can express how kitschy,
provocative and alluring the costumes are. Never has one person
seemed so naked in a costume than Jane Fonda in this movie.
It saddens me (yes, I'm being dramatic) that they're considering
remaking this movie with Drew Barrymore in the lead role. I hope the
rumors are false. Drew's cute, likeable and she's shown her
willingness to disrobe, but I think a role like Barbarella requires
a higher level of... tackiness. I present to you my choice for the
role of Barbarella - Samantha Fox. Okay, so she hasn't proven her
acting ability any more than she has her singing ability, but let's
make it a comeback vehicle for long-lost 80's pop stars. Or better
yet, just don't remake it.
Paramount has prepared an adequate looking anamorphic transfer of
Barbarella for this DVD. The
print shows its age sometimes and exhibits some flaws (minor
scratching) on the source print. But the color palette is broad and
vibrant, and DVD is the perfect format in which to display it.
Colors are solid with minimal bleed, but are prone to occasional
artifacting. The mono sound mix gets the job done, but will not
knock your socks off. All sound sources are intact, and dialogue is
always clear and decisive, with no hissing, scratching or popping to
which older soundtracks are prone.
The only extra on the DVD is the theatrical trailer, which is shown
in its original aspect ratio of 2.35:1. It too is enhanced for
widescreen sets - a nice touch. All things considered, the trailer
is in pretty good shape. What's missing from this disc are
subtitles. Paramount usually includes one or two sets of subtitles,
but not so with this disc. It is Close Captioned, so if you really
need to see the witty and winning dialogue, it's there.
Barbarella is definitely not
for everyone. More than anything else, the movie is an excuse to
laugh at the expense of others. It wasn't until I prepared to write
this review that I actually paid attention to the plot, but that's
not what matters in this movie. As far as camp value goes, it's
almost near the top of the list with another classic from Paramount,
Mommy Dearest. No other movie
has provided as much inspiration for drag queens and go-go dancers
as Barbarella. The inspiration
could be just the reverse, but if cleavage, knee-high hooker boots,
big hair and outrageous outfits are your cup of tea, by all means
get this DVD. Either that... or make a trip to Dollywood.