was originally a French erotic science fiction comic book series by Jean-Claude Forest, but the title is better known, at least outside France, for the 1968 film adaptation.
It was directed by Roger Vadim, and starred his wife at the time, Jane Fonda
. The film is set to the distant future, estimated to about the 40th century. Planet Earth has been united under a Republic, wars have been abolished and weapons exist only in museums. Sex has been replaced by a ritual involving pills. But Dr. Durand Durand (Milo O'Shea), a scientist, starts developing a new weapon. He and his spaceship vanish in the vicinity of uncharted planet Tau Ceti. Barbarella is sent to retrieve him. The local culture introduces her both to various horrors and to the joys of real sex. She has to face the evil Black Queen (Anita Pallenberg) of the city SoGo, the so-called City of Night.
When first released, Barbarella
was a critical and commercial failure. However, it later became a cult film (as a Guilty Pleasure
Contains examples of:
- Adorkable: Dildano. Of course, it was a very young, slim & very cute David Hemmings doing a more comedic role.
- Agony Beam: Inverted. Villain Dr. Durand Durand tortures the heroine by hooking her into a device which plays her sexual responses like organ pipes, the goal being to orgasm her to death. As mentioned further down, it doesn't work.
- All Women Are Lustful
- Anything That Moves
- Black Comedy Rape: The Excessive Machine from Barbarella surely qualifies, at least until she proved Too Kinky to Torture to such a degree that it broke down.
- Boldly Coming: Barbarella, the pretty blonde envoy of an Earth that left behind such outdated concepts like violence or physical sex, gets used to both rather quickly after being introduced to them on a more... uhm, anarchic planet. She doesn't decline to try other things too. In one memorable scene, Durand-Durand tries to kill her with his orgasm machine, but she overloads it.
- Broken Angel: Pygar. He has been blinded and has lost his will to fly.Then Barbarella raises his morale...
- Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": In the evil doll kid's hangout (the remains of Durand Durand's crashed space ship), there's a bunch of blue bunnies. Not seen in the film but in promotional photos are some blue goats & an anteater).
- Changing Clothes Is a Free Action: Justified/played straight with the eponymous heroine of Barbarella. She doesn't only spend the movie going through an Unlimited Wardrobe, but gets put into dozens of situations that justify the wardrobe change.
- Character Title
- Cool and Unusual Punishment: The Excessive Machine.
- Comic Book Fantasy Casting: Barbarella as she appears in the comics was drawn with Brigitte Bardot in mind.
- Creepy Doll: In a scene, razor-toothed killer dolls attack Barbarella. They belong to a group of feral children, led by...
- Creepy Twins: The first people she meets on Tau Ceti. They knock her out with a loaded snowball, tie her up and take her away on a sled pulled by a stingray.
- The whole gaggle of feral kids is made up of pairs of twins.
- Department of Redundancy Department: The Black Queen says to Barbarella: "You're very pretty, Pretty-Pretty."
- Dilating Door: Played for Laughs. At some point Barbarella is wearing (little more than) an animal-skin suit with a long tail. The tail gets trapped in the closing iris.
- Disco Tech: Dr. Durand Durand's "Orgasmic Organ" resembles a real Organ and plays music.
- Disc One Final Boss: The Black Queen/Great Tyrant because The real villan is the Concierge who is Durand Durand & he is also The Starscream & thereby, The Big Bad. If anything, The Black Queen is the real heroine, or at least an Anti-Hero with a Pyrrhic Victory due to letting loose the Mathmos, which destroys the evil city, Durand Durand & saves The Queen, Barbarella & Pygar. Apart from the big Black Guard air battle, Barbarella is the most useless space heroine in history
- Do You Want to Copulate?
- Electric Instant Gratification: The so-called "Excessive Machine", that can kill people.
- Enfant Terrible: The weird kids & their killer death dolls.
- Mr. Fanservice: John Phillip Law as the angel Pygar, a handsome, tall, blond, blue-eyed shirtless ornithanthrope.
- Fanservice: Most of the film, but the most famously the scene where Barbarella takes off her spacesuit in zero gravity.
- Vadim was quoted as explaining why he put this under the opening credits: "Lots of men will only watch the film to see Jane Fonda naked, so I put that at the start so they don't have to sit through a load of science fiction."
- Feathered Fiend: Vicious man-eating songbirds.
- Femme Fatale: The Black Queen.
- Fetish-Fuel Future
- Free-Love Future: Their salute is even "love," although they don't practice physical sex any more, considering it to be impractical. Barbarella changes her mind when she meets Mark the Hand on Tau Ceti
- Fur Bikini: One of Barbarella's outfits. Some humorous scenes reveal how impractical it is. She quickly discards it for another outfit.
- High Altitude Battle: Barbarella & Pygar's mid-air battle with the Black Guards air patrol. The only time Barbarella does anything heroic, she's a pretty good shot.
- Homage: The (in)famous opening scene was the base for the video of Kylie Minogue's song Put yourself in my place.
- How Would You Like to Die?: Barbarella wanders into a walk-in suicide booth, which offers world-weary beings a choice of ways to terminate their unendurable existence.
- Incorruptible Pure Pureness: When the city starts to sink into a pit of sentient, liquid evil at the end of the movie, said liquid evil specifically protects Barbarella because her purity and innocence would hurt it. This same woman who basically sexed her way across the planet and had an erotic threshold so high she broke a machine meant to make her die of orgasmic bliss.
- Informed Ability: Barbarella. She's hyped as one of Earth's greatest space explorers by the President of Earth but turns out to be a bit of The Ditz & The Ingenue & Faux Action Girl rolled into one....played by Jane Fonda of all people!
- I Have You Now, My Pretty: Quoted practically verbatim.
- Karma Houdini: The Black Queen is saved by Pygar in the end, despite her actions as a tyrant and her repeated attempts to kill him and Barbarella. Because, as Pygar explains, "An angel has no memory." What?
- And that's one of the few scenes quoted verbatim from the original comic.
- Killer Rabbit: Early in the film, Barbarella is menaced by a group of dolls whose mouths show very pointy teeth. The scene ruins her clothes and leaves her bleeding. Later in the movie, she is nearly killed by vicious killer budgies [parakeets]. With similar bloody effects.
- Lampshade Hanging: "What's that screaming? (pensively) Dramatic situations often start with screaming." This lamp needed a shade, because what our heroine finds is some mooks tormenting Pygar the angel: they've got nothing to scream about, and Pygar is too angelically dignified to scream. So it looks like nobody screamed, it really was just a dramatic device.
- Given all of the other stuff that goes on in SoGo, it would probably be more surprising if somebody in it wasn't screaming at any given time.
- Mad Scientist: Durand Durand turns out to be one.
- Mental Affair: The "Earth Way" of having sex. Demonstrated by Barbarella and Dildano, leader of the Resistance.
- Mohs Scale of Science Fiction Hardness: Among the softest anyone could find. Other than the very airiest of explanations, expect nothing at all but bizarre fetishy goings-on in bizarre fetishy Space Clothes. Never mind "creative" violation of special relativity and Heisenberg uncertainty, some technologies featured violate basic physics, [[such as a yacht with wheels that can move by sail-power when there's no wind because there's a fan on it: such a vehicle is possible (as recently demonstrated), but would be hideously inefficient. Point the fan astern and you'll get much better results.
- Mooks: The Black Guards, spooky, robot-like Stormtrooper figures that are nothing but leather Animated Armor. Also involves a bit of Double Entendre in that they are described as "Leathermen" & have whips for hands.
- Ms. Fanservice: Barbarella again.
- No Sex Allowed: In Barbarella's world, physical sex has been replaced with a ritual involving so-called 'Exaltation Transference Pills'. When she tries the old style versions though, she's quite pleased.
- The Nudifier: The Excessive Machine removes the victim's clothes first.
- Ominous Pipe Organ: The Excessive Machine, with Durand-Durand playing it.
- Only One Name: Everybody, except Durand Durand.
- Out with a Bang: The Excessive Machine causes its victims to die of pleasure.
- Parrot Exposition: Barbarella could give the entire Metal Gear series a run for its money.
- Pinball Protagonist: Barbarella's primary role in the story is 1: Get into trouble through own stupidity. 2: Get rescued by some guy. 3: Have Rescue Sex with her savior. 4: Repeat. The only reason she manages to find Durand Durand is because he accidentally steps on the sensor designed to locate him, setting it off.
- Please Put Some Clothes On: Subverted. Barbarella takes a videophone call from the President of Earth while she's naked. She says that she'll "slip something on", but the President (of course) tells her not to bother.
- Plucky Comic Relief: Dildano & his secret base of operations. His "Earth Hand/Pill-Sex" scene with Babs could be counted as Crowning Moment of Funny.
- Punny Name: A character is called Dildano.
- Repetitive Name: Guess who.
- Rescue Sex: With three different people over the course of the movie. Dildano explicitly states that he rescued Barbarella just so he could get this.
- Robosexual: In the comic.
- Role Called: In the US, the film was marketed as Barbarella: Queen of the Galaxy.
- Samus Is a Girl: No one knew who was in the spacesuit at the beginning of the movie until one of the greatest moments in Fanservice history began.
- Slippy-Slidey Ice World: The Icen Forests of Weir.
- Space Clothes: Taken to the point of absurdity.
- Stripperific: And how!
- Too Kinky to Torture: Barbarella overloads the Excessive Machine.
- Too Spicy for Yog Sothoth: The city is swallowed by a Big Evil Blob... except for Babs. The Black Queen (who gets saved by being — nudge nudge — close to her) explains that it can't stand the taste of her innocence.
- Torture Technician: Dr. Durand Durand's profession in his new culture.
- More like a hobby, and one shared by the majority of Sogoites, it seems.
- Translator Microbes: Barbarella's "Tongue Box" whose name can be seen as a Double Entendre.
- Unfamiliar Ceiling: At some point Barbarella wakes up after getting knocked out and thinks she's dead. Not surprisingly, since the first person she sees is Pygar the angel (or ornithanthrope).
- Unlimited Wardrobe
- Yandere: The Black Queen, apparently. After Barbarella rejects her advances, she aims a knife at her. Though she didn't go through with it.
- You Can Leave Your Hat On: Barbarella stripping off constitutes the entire opening credits sequence.