Discerning comic nerds, film geeks and big-time pervs are no doubt extremely aware that 1968’s Barbarella was based on a series of comics from author/illustrator Jean- Claude Forest, but what they may not know is that the sexy, cheesy, crazy film is coming to Santa Fe’s very own Jean Cocteau Cinema for their viewing, uh, pleasure.
Dripping with Bond-girl sex, “futuristic” set design, outrageous costumes and no small amount of 60s-ness crammed into each and every frame, Barbarella may have come to the freelove revolution of the decade a tad late, but still represented an odd step forward in feminism in that the titular hero was a trailblazer of sorts.
Contemporary-ish sci-fi heroes like Buck Rogers or Flash Gordon had appeared in filmed serials and shorts prior to Barbarella’s release, but Jane Fonda’s search for scientist Durand Durand (not to mention her nude zero-G spacewalk) marked new beginnings for both science fiction and comics-based material in film, as the first major motion picture based on both to enter the public consciousness.
The plot is thin (Barbarella crash lands in her search for the illustrious scientist and then proceeds to bone just about everyone and everything she comes across), as are the costumes, and there is no denying how goofy the whole thing feels. But, even a billion years later, the impact is undeniable. Notable for its positive attitude toward female sexuality, a talkative Marcel Marceau as well as the inspiration for band names such as Duran Duran and Matmos, Barbarella would also play a part in the underrated 2001 film CQ. There are even rumors of newer films in the works based on untold exploits from the comics.
And though it is generally agreed that Roger Vadim’s vision of future sex and female sci-fi heroism is fairly tame by today’s standards, there is still something ridiculously enjoyable about the whole affair—probably that Jane Fonda just can’t seem to keep her space clothes on no matter how hard she tries. Look, film doesn’t always have to be some heavy handed lesson in morality, and Barbarella provides the perfect level of escapism and sex that many of us could probably use in our lives.