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Monday, July 29, 2013

Sean Kelly

Blindspot: The Cult of 2013: Barbarella

barbarella

When I was compiling my list of cult films for this year’s blindspot series, my way of thinking was “the weirder, the better.”  That said, I’ve been purposely holding off on some of the more unusual films for the second half of the line-up. 

As such, it is only appropriate that my next film to be featured is this 1968 campy sci-fi film, based on the French comic book of the same name.  Barbarella stars Jane Fonda as the titular character, who travels to a distant planet in search of a lost Earth scientist by the name of Durand Durand, as well as save the people from The Great Tyrant.  Along the way, Barbarella encounters evil children with vampire dolls, a hunky angel named Pygar, and a whole lot of sexual innuendo.

The tone for Barbarella is established within the opening minutes of the film, which consists of Barbarella doing a zero gravity strip tease during the opening credits.  Going into the film, I was expecting quite a bit of campy sexual content and the film definitely delivers in that regard.  Quite possibly the most outrageous scene in the film comes when Barbarella is tortured by a literal sex organ, which definitely needs to be seen to be believed.  It also becomes a bit of a running joke in the film that Barbarella ends up sleeping with every male character she comes across, including a very odd moment of having sex by touching hands.

Sexual content aside, Barbarella in general is a very weird film.  There are so many odd visuals early on, ranging from a sled pulled by a giant stingray to evil dolls biting away at Barbarella, I was just going with the flow by the time the film got to the film’s main love interest, who just happened to be a shirtless blonde man with angel wings.  I’m certain that Barbarella likely set the stage for future campy sci-fi films, such as 1974’s Zardoz and 1980’s Flash Gordon.

When it comes down to it, Barbarella doesn’t really have all that much of a story.  In fact, the plot of the film is more or less just a way for Barbarella to move from one sexcapade to another.  This is probably best exemplified by the final shot of the film, and a certain line by Pygar the Angel, which will likely result in facepalms by any feminists watching the film (and believe me, this is not a feminist-friendly film).

I guess I will conclude by saying that Barbarella is very much a product of the late-60s time period it was made in and I wouldn't be surprised if people watched the film on acid trips.  All and all, this film sits firmly in the “so bad, it’s good” category of films, though I’d probably won’t be rushing into a rewatch.

6 | WATCHABLE

Sean Kelly

About Sean Kelly -

Sean Patrick Kelly is a self-described ├╝ber-geek, who has been an avid film lover for all his life. He graduated from York University in 2010 with an honours B.A. in Cinema and Media Studies and he likes to believe he knows what he’s talking about when he writes about film (despite occasionally going on pointless rants).