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Barbarella (1968) - Blu-ray Review

{2jtab: Movie Review}

Barbarella - Blu-ray review

3 Stars

“A good many dramatic situations begin with screaming,” says Barbarella (Jane Fonda) on her way to save her winged friend.  Such is the reaction many people have to Fonda in the title role of Roger Vadim’s Franco-Italian science fiction flesh for fantasy film from 1968.  Opening with the now classic zero-gravity striptease, Barbarella might be a bit dated in its effects and its pacing but its camp and costumes are every bit ahead of its psychedelic afterbirth.

The year is 40,000.  Does that matter?  Not really.  It’s an arbitrary made-up date to excuse the psychedelic (and cheaply made) set design that haunt the film like a ghost does a Victorian mansion.  Do we care?  Not in the least.  Barbarella is a long and strange space journey into bare-bottomed fantasies where sexual pleasure is delivered in pills and props and in Barbarella’s many costume changes.  Viva La Revolución indeed!! {googleads}

Loosely designed around a mission to find Doctor Durand Durand (Milo O'Shea) from the planet Tau Ceti and his Positronic Ray, Barbarella gets its playful jollies from its dialogue (“Only an invisible key can open an invisible wall.”) and its tongue-in-cheek handling of sexual material at almost every turn (“I guess I’m not the tube type.”).  There’s even a torture device – the Excessive Machine – that pleasures its victims until they die.  Watch as Fonda “oohs” and “aahhs” herself cross-eyed.  Does she survive?  Does the machine?  Is Barbarella the enegizer bunny?

Yes, kiddos, that’s what Barbarella’s about.  It’s fun and freaky and with a cast that includes John Phillip Law as a blind angel (who has lost the will to fly until he sleeps with Barbarella in his nest) and silent star Marcel Marceau as Professor Ping simply can’t steer itself wrong.  The Great Tyrant, Black Queen of Sogo (Anita Pallenberg, but dubbed by Joan Greenwood) might sound a little overdramatic for her bubble-gum and laser fire surroundings, but the late-sixties sense of style and fun are never diminished by someone (read: ANYONE) taking this psychedelic trip all too seriously.

Barbarella - Blu-ray review

Barbarella is the very definition of dumb fun.  The opticals are drug-heavy and purposely goofy with over-the-top visual gags and effects.  Loopy blobs fill the screen – thanks to the heavy use of an oil-wheel projector – and sets are layered in willowy flowers and neon backdrops.  Yes, this must be what goes on inside a lava lamp.  I always wondered what magic transpired inside there.

Vadim (And God Created Woman) fills the screen with so much kink that the impossibly attractive Fonda nearly bursts with pulp and brown shag carpet.  Flesh-eating dolls manhandle our heroine and many a man attempt (and usually get) their way with her (or is she controlling them?), but Vardim and Fonda’s lovecraft works a mighty spell and alters the audience’s collective mind.

Barbarella isn’t so much a film as it is an event.  Many have done it under the influence and many have failed to appreciate on any level.  Perhaps, it is best described as a rite of passage.  Forty-four years later, it is still – for film enthusiasts – that strange and enchanting rite of passage.  Do YOU know why an angel is love?  Well, do you?  If the answer is no, you should really give Barbarella a spin in the ol’ Excessive Machine and … relax, man.

Relax.

{2jtab: Film Details}

Barbarella - Blu-ray reviewMPAA Rating: PG
Director
: Roger Vadim
Writer: Terry Southern and Roger Vadim
Cast:
Jane Fonda; John Phillip Law; Anita Pallenberg; Milo O'Shea; Marcel Marceau; Claude Dauphin
Genre: Fantasy | Sci-fi | Comedy
Tagline:
The space age adventuress whose sex-ploits are among the most bizarre ever seen.
Memorable Movie Quote: "Your mission Barbarella: find Durand-Durand."
Distributor:
Paramount Pictures
Official Site:
Release Date:
October 10, 1968
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
July 3, 2012

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

{2jtab: Blu-ray Review}

Barbarella - Blu-ray review

Blu-ray

Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - July 3, 2012
Screen Formats: 2.35:1
Subtitles
: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Audio:
English: Dolby TrueHD Mono; French: Dolby Digital Mono; Spanish: Dolby Digital Mono
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD)
Playback: Region-free

Wow.  Wow.  And, again, wow.  Barbarella’s got a brand new coat of paint and my, my, my does it ever shimmy and shake its ass.  The 1080p transfer nearly glistens.  Full of ripe and shiny colors that don’t appear dated in the least, Barbarella’s going to moisten your tastebuds.  You want her.  You need her.  The textures brought out by this transfer are incredible.  The fibers in the costumes; every rip and every tear; the beads of sweat on Fonda’s brow as she … moves; all are clear as day in this transfer.  Paramount have done Barbarella proud.  No specks of debris or dirt were noticeable throughout and skin tones are perfect.  No damages of time or age noticeable in the print.  The clear Dolby TrueHD mono soundtrack might not have the range modern day ears are accustomed to but it still treats listeners with a solid audio experience to go along with a crisp and damn near perfect transfer.

Supplements:

Commentary:

  • Sadly, no.

Special Features:

Poison was right.  Every rose does have its thorn.  No special features.  Only a trailer.  And that answers NOTHING about the film’s interesting production history.  Why drop the ball, Paramount?  Why?

Are you waiting for a remake or something?

{2jtab: Trailer}

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