Perfection. So much to say about Barbarella. I think I saw it for the first time in my Trash Cinema course at university and now, many years after—I found out that it was released in restored Bluray 4K quality with all the extra commentaries, booklets, and special materials. Being weak for Jane Fonda then and now—how could I not immediately snatch one for myself?
Barbarella is the pinnacle of Kitsch. The science fiction of likes that we have rarely seen and now, it’s all akin to a forgotten dream, which once warmed us in the shivers of the night. Fantastic Planet, 1973 might be the closest relative I know off top of my head in terms of style, pizzazz, and sheer comfort level of the film unapologetically being itself. Some would even mistake it for shamelessness.
Variety once compared Barbarella to "a beached whale." It represents everything the very best of the 60s. And my god. Jane Fonda. For years, and now confirmed once again—I hold her as the perfection of beauty, really. It’s not even funny. How is it humanly possible? This is beyond my levels of comprehension. She sure proved be too much even for Durand Durand’s Exexsive Machine.
Space Odyssey, Star Wars, Dune, all step aside. Barbarella is what we need, but seemingly don’t deserve. The aesthetics, the glassy and bulky props, crazy funky music, Jane Fonda (yet again), and quoting Véronique Bergen in his essay, “Barbarella, Ambassador of Peace and Love,”
Sixties girl becomes the “Sexties” girl: denouncing consumerism, systems of domination and puritan conservatism, she embodies women’s liberation, the sexual revolution, unhindered pleasure, and political and ethical involvement to uphold peace and love.
It’s like a forgotten dream. What once could have been, now is lost. All left are distilled and sterile consumer-based science-fiction. Barbarella will always stay fresh. As should your free-spirited sense of wonder.