Monday, 22 October 2012

Cinematic Spaces: Barbarella - Review

Barbarella is a Franco-Italian movie made in 1968 by Roger Vadim. The story was based on French series of comic books Barbarella by Jean-Claude Forest.

The movie presents a story of a young heroine Barbarella (Jane Fonda) traveling through the Galaxy in her furry, fancy space-ship. In the beginning of the movie the President of Earth (Claude Dauphin) calls her to give orders. Barbarella’s new mission is to find a man called Doctor Durand Durand (Milo O’Shea) who possesses a killing laser and wants to rule the world.

This plot is not really a complicated one but basing on comic books, what else could have the film makers done? At first Barbarella seems to be a true heroine, strong woman who can defeat all enemies effortlessly but the truth is she’s more of a weakling in fancy costumes, looking pretty and seeking for physical pleasure and fun.
Just as At-A-Glance representant states in his review:

“I’ll say this for Barbarella; it is successful in its effort to put something on the screen that’s never been put there before. But it begs the question: should this have been put on the screen?”(At-A-Glance, 2011)

Jean-Claude Forest’s comic series was created in 1962 for French magazine V-Magazine and was stated to be a ‘first adult science-fiction comic book’, quite scandalous though. However for its author, the character represented a modern emancipated woman in the era of sexual liberation. With such plot filled with sexual tension the movie couldn’t have been any different. If anyone tried watching Barbarella without previous knowledge of the comic they might have had a very hard time understanding the sense of it.

“The overall look of the film made me want to punch the production designer square in the face. Absolutely everything was tacky and cheap.”

In his review Padolf seems to state a very subjective opinion, not taking under consideration the fact of the time that the movie was made in, and doubting the feeling that all set decorations give off. Perhaps it was the luck of budget, perhaps an informed decision of the film makers and director, but for sure they made a production full of positively overdone environments, starting with Barbarella’s amazing costumes, designed by Jasques Fonteray and Paco Rabanne, through pastel-coloured surrounding and almost sugar-sweet, plastic objects around all characters. This movie is like a pack of candies; you open it expecting something great, you taste it and it’s not your dream flavor but you enjoy it either way, because it’s candy.

“A movie you either love or hate. If you don’t appreciate high camp silliness you’re well advised to sit this one out. And if you have a thing for Serious Film-Making that has profound things to say about the human condition, this is not the movie for you.”
(Dfordoom, 2011)

This quote states the obvious truth about the movie. It can be considered as a pointless production that is both plain and meaningless, but if one decides to look deeper, they might as well find something very interesting in it. For example the scene when Barberalla’s space-ship is being damaged by the magnetic-storm, on the screen in front of her, different abstracts paintings appear. They might be compared to some XX century’s animators who used the paint on celluloid to achieve the effect of moving paint splashes. Also, interesting machines, environment and characters designs can make one’s eyes stare at the movie for its whole duration. Both original comic creator and the movie makers did a great job creating Barbarella’s world.

Vadim’s Barbarella comic book adaptation is worth seeing, either for stating one’s opinion about it or just being a part of cinematic sweetness and world of sexual freedom and sillines for an hour and a half.


2. Stills:

1 comment:

  1. "This movie is like a pack of candies; you open it expecting something great, you taste it and it’s not your dream flavor but you enjoy it either way, because it’s candy".

    I laughed 'out loud' when I read this - pretty much sums up the experience, I think!