A and A's Movie A Day

Watching movies until we run out.

Movie 29 – Barbarella

Barbarella – March 29, 2010

Oh my god, Barbarella. The very best word for this movie (aside from boobalicious) is bizarre. It practically revels in it. The pointy-toothed dolls, Professor Ping, the sex pills, the costumes, the plot, the shag carpeted space ship, it’s all so very over-the-top, it’s clearly intentional. It’s a spectacle of sixties cheesy science fiction and I’m pretty damn sure it was made to be just that.

We watched the preview for the movie once it was over and really, it was played up to be a pulpy sci-fi romp with plenty of naked Jane Fonda and it definitely delivers on that front. Barbarella’s constantly getting undressed and then changing into something new. After the third costume change for Barbarella, it’s pretty obvious you’re not supposed to take this movie at all seriously. Really, it’s obvious before then, but the constant stripping and sex and costume changes would clue in anyone. And while some of the costumes are just mini-dresses with sparkly bits, some, like the one with the one semi-transparent breast cup, are just hilarious.

There’s a lot to convince me that the movie was made as comedy. For example, my favorite line in the entire movie: “What’s that screaming? A good many dramatic situations begin with screaming.” And then Barbarella hums her own theme song whenever she’s just had sex, in some sort of post-coital haze of meta. Every so often the movie “accidentally” bumps up against the fourth wall and goes “Oops! Is something there that I’m not supposed to know about or acknowledge? Silly me!” Personally, I love comedy that breaks the fourth wall. It can be done to great effect. I’m not so sure I’d label this movie great, but it does have a ridiculous sort of charm to it simply because it is so strangely self-aware.

But then too, some of the charm, at least for me, is the whole retro-future vibe the movie has going on. I do love the fifties and sixties views of the future. There’s just something about using a lava lamp as a special effect that makes me want to hold up my hand and say “Love!” But now I’m going to have that theme song stuck in my head for days.

March 29, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , , | Leave a comment

Barbarella: Queen of the Galaxy

March 29, 2010

Barbarella: Queen of the Galaxy

Early on in Barbarella (after the famous zero-g striptease) there is an “action scene.”  Only there’s not much action to be had.  It’s all camera tilting and zooming with Barbarella steering her be-shag-carpeted pink spaceship through a lava lamp.  This, and the fact that Jane Fonda spends the entire first scene of the movie (a huge hunk of plot exposition in which the President of the Republic of Earth sends Barbarella on her mission to find and rescue the lost scientist Duran Duran) completely stark naked, should tell you everything you need to know about this movie.  It’s a non-sensical psychedelic romp, and I love it.

The soundtrack is a combination of great sixties cheese and a jazzy trumpet combo which reminds me a lot of the soundtrack to one of my favorite MST3K episodes: Moon Zero Two.  And speaking of MST3K – here’s John Phillip Law from Danger! Diabolik and Space Mutiny as Pygar the blind angel.  Then there’s famed mime Marcel Marceau (best known to me as a trivia answer from Mel Brooks’ film Silent Movie) as Professor Ping.  In the time before the Chronicles of Narnia movies I always felt that Professor Ping in this movie was what Mr. Tumnus would look like.  And it turns out I was mostly right.

What I love about this movie is that it’s so unashamedly odd.  It makes no attempt to explain itself.  It’s just filled with unnecessary strangeness like naked people half stuck in stone, or people hanging in slings, or evil betoothed dolls, or a giant hookah with a guy floating inside it.  Or any of Barbarella’s many bizarre wardrobe choices.

And maybe I should say something about the movie’s constant casual nudity.  Or maybe not.  It was the sixties.  In France.  I gather that constant casual nudity was par for the course.  If the movie isn’t going to make a big deal about it than neither am I.

The movie also doesn’t care that the technology of the day was not up to the task of showing much that is required of it.  (And raised as I was on Doctor Who neither do I.)  Wires and bluescreens and lava lamps and cheap miniatures are plenty good enough.

Barbarella psychedella indeed.

March 29, 2010 Posted by | daily reviews | , , , , , | Leave a comment