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Förening Film i Malmö presents
Dir. Roger Vadim
english w. swedish subtitles
The first of three colourful, sexy, trivial, endearing Dino De Laurentiis productions adapted from popular comic strips – all literally episodic, they preserve the plot lurches of a medium given to introducing new characters and settings every week, and have a bubbly, pop-art sensibility that spends more time on the art direction, the costuming and the psychedelic music track than the plot. Barbarella (played by Jane Fonda, pre-70s politics and 80s exercise guru) embarks on a journey – like the central character of a Fellini movie (De Laurentiis produced Nights Of Cabiria and La Strada) – to a big city which turns out to be hideously decadent underneath its attractive bustle.
Fonda brings to Barbarella a strange, saluting squareness that is as big-sisterly as it is sirenlike (“Oh, how darling,” she exclaims over cute children, nice dollies or pretty little birds — all of which then try to kill her), but she wears (and unwears) a succession of truly amazing fashion creations with all the confidence of a generation that thought sex was, above all, fun.
Over 30 years on, there is still an irresistible sexiness to Barbarella’s post-coital langours, as she sings her own theme song (“Barbarella, Psychedelia!”) while stroking her face with an angel-feather plucked during passion. The plot, which everyone treats as a joke (“a good many dramatic situations begin with screaming”), has Earth girl Barbarella despatched to Tau Ceti in search of missing scientist Duran Duran (yes, that’s where those 80s gits got their name from) and his deadly “positronic ray” (“Why would anybody want to invent a weapon?”). Earth has been civilised and harmonious for centuries, but Tau Ceti exists “in a primitive state of neurotic insensitivity” and the naive heroine runs into a succession of oddballs who want to kill her or have sex with her or both.