Film Style: Barbarella (1968)

barbarella screencap 60s jane fonda space age 12

The 1968 film Barbarella stars Jane Fonda and was directed by her then-husband Roger Vadim. It was something of a flop when it was first released, though has since become a cult classic.

I can certainly appreciate the reasoning behind the initial ‘flop’ ranking the film received. This is not high art. Terrible script, hammy acting, nonsensical storyline. However Jane Fonda’s nipples managed to keep the film in circulation, cementing its cult status. Poor Jane, Vadim sounds as though he was quite the cretin, and the whole film comes across as more or less a personal perv-fest on his wife.

What really makes this film stand out are the fabulous and totally over-the-top (and not a little saucy) space age 60s costumes and props. This film really couldn’t have been made in any other era, and it is a great example of the space age style that was so popular at the time. Barbarella manages to keep falling into scrapes in which all her clothes fall off, which luckily for us means numerous outfit changes. She even does a space-suit strip tease over the credits at the start of the film, which I am guessing was the inspiration for Kylie Minogue’s 1994 video clip for ‘Put Yourself in My Place’.

In short, the film is a turkey, but an enjoyably cheesy turkey at that. The costumes are great fun, the pink spaceship has orange shagpile carpet and perspex furniture (can I live there please?) and Jane Fonda is a total babe. Worth watching for her enviable hair and costumes alone.

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Barbarella is put into the ‘Excessive Machine’, which kills you with pleasure. But she can take so much pleasure the machine blows up. Ahem. barbarella screencap 60s jane fonda space age 33 barbarella screencap 60s jane fonda space age 34