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Thursday, April 3, 2008
BARBARELLA is more than a tale of two titties.
With rich guys like Elliott Spitzer and Max Mosley having such well-publicized, decadent fun the staff at Needtovent decided we needed to find something to lift our spirits as well. With severly limited funds the best we could afford was a bowl of Jiffy Pop, a bottle of cheap tequila and a rented DVD of BARBARELLA, the 1968 cult-classic adaptation of Jean-Claude Forest's risque comic book starring Hanoi Jane before she become a McCain in the ass.
One thing is certain, Lady Jayne Semour Fonda sure made us all want to "see more."
Dildano: "Are you typical of Earth women?"
Barbarella: "I'm about average."
If only this were true. Clearly the world would be a far more attractive place, especially when one realizes that the fetching wench parading on screen in a fabulous series of revealing costumes was already thirty-one years old when this film was made.
Playing a sexy, yet innocent space-age heroine in the year 40,000 A.D., Jane gets herself into a never-ending array of highly unusual situations. Luckily, none of these requires her to wear much clothing. During her journey to the city of Sogo (clearly a reference to Sodom and Gomorra), Jane meets, among others, Dr. Ping (Marcel Marceau), Pygar, a blind angel (John Phillip Law), an evil queen (the lovely Anita Pallenberg) and Durand-Durand, a mad scientist (Milo O'Shea) whose name served as the inspirational source for the 1980's mega-successful music group Duran Duran (who dropped the hyphen and a "D" at the end for some unknown reason).
One of the most interesting concepts found in the film is the idea that sex in the future is performed through the consumption of a drug while simply holding hands -- the good old fashioned way being deemed too "inefficient" by the fascist followers of the Protestant Work Ethic. Besides, there's a whole lot of profit in sex pills for the drug companies and they have extremely powerful lobbyists. Wait -- did I say something about the "future?" Seems to me the future is already here to an alarming degree.
This film, flawed as it might be, has a lot of highlights that make watching it a guilty pleasure. Among these:
The opening credits where vivacious Jane does a striptease in zero gravity.
The scene where semi-nude women sit around a hookah inhaling "Essence of Man" -- which is revealed to be a fine-looking fellow floating in a giant fish bowl.
The overall art direction which is so cheesy it had to come from Wisconsin -- a spaceship constructed of shag carpeting being just one example.
A torture machine that "orgasms" its victims to death. Hey, I wonder if Howard Stern has had this device on his show yet.
(Every time I see this photo I cannot help but be reminded of the famous Super Bowl "wardrobe malfunction")
Here's the bottom line -- BARBARELLA remains saucy, naughty and bawdy forty years after it was originally released. It's an hour and a half of hallucinatory hi-jinks and softcore titillation. One could do far worse; the soon-to-be-released SPEED RACER being just one example that comes to mind.
(If your persuasions lean towards more serious decadence, then we recommend THE NIGHT PORTER. Talk about room service!)