Roger Vadim made a career out of highlighting the attraction of the women he was connected with, and in 1968 he wedded Jane Fonda, whom he had previously directed in two passionate dramas. As a result, he casted Fonda in a lighthearted, sexually uninhibited sci-fi film Barbarella, that was the polar antithesis of the year’s sci-fi juggernaut 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Although both 2001 and Vadim’s Barbarella are hallucinogenic journeys, Stanley Kubrick’s 2001 is chillier and more philosophical, taking itself very seriously even when spinning through surreal mindscapes. Fonda’s title character, hovering in zero gravity and executing a sort of interstellar burlesque performance as she tears off her heavy spacesuit one piece at a time, proclaims Barbarella’s underlying absurdity right from the outset.
Barbarella, The Siren of Space and Alien Ass-kicker
The interior of Barbarella’s spaceship is carpeted with wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling shag carpeting, and the airlock door features a blowup of Georges Surat’s iconic artwork A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. It is the type of swanky bachelor apartment where Austin Powers may appear at any moment. Yeah Baby!!!
The film is entirely predicated on a comic book series by French writer and artist Jean-Claude Forest and takes set in a much further future where the galaxy has been unified in romance and conflict has vanished. She is an intergalactic explorer and an official representative of the Earth’s government.
Right after she removes her spacesuit, Barbarella obtains an emergency communication from Earth’s President, which she, of course, answers naked. He orders her to go to the Tau Ceti system and find a scientist named Durand Durand, who has gone missing with a powerful weapon he designed.
After crash-landing on the world where Durand is hiding, Barbarella embarks on an epic trip akin to Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz, only with a lot more coitus. She is first abducted by a group of scary children, who transport her to their stronghold through an arctic landscape on huge skis attached to a stingray-like beast. “But I haven’t skied in years!” Barbarella has a valid point. A muscular outdoorsman known as the Catchman saves her from the children’s hands (Ugo Tognazzi).
What Other Comic Books Can Learn from the Film and Comic Stip
“5-star double-rated astronavigatrix Earthgirl, whose specialty is… love.” The picture bombed at the box office and was lambasted by reviewers, but it rose to cult significance in the decades that followed. To be honest, we are all blessed to have Barbarella in a film society that is fascinated with comic book adaptations that rides the line between sincere genre-wackiness and sardonic fun. It’s the comic book film we desperately need but scarcely feel entitled.
Its most visible influence is its joyful and open use of sexuality. The erotic freedom of women was linked into the movies marketing pitch, which used language that would appear explosive by today’s standards. “Who is the girl of the twenty-first century?” Posters for the film enquired of moviegoers. “Who abandons the pill? Who travels into space? “Who dies from pleasure?” Jane Fonda’s Character did important work as both a science-fiction film and a superb adaptation of a comic book strip, in addition to sensationalizing feminine pleasure.
The popular comic series aren’t just for titillation; they’re also supposed to make readers chuckle and appreciate the world-building of science fiction. Each biosphere she visits have its own culture and set of physical rules, thus seeing her choose to have sex with a robot, a monarch, or a horde of women who get euphoric by breathing the “essence of man” embraces the same premise as Star Trek: The Original Series. Fonda’s character’s aim is frequently the same as Kirk and Spock’s; she simply prefers to bed new creatures to learn more about species, whilst Spock tries to prevent Kirk from doing so.
One of the most astonishing aspects of the film is that it captures the same thematic richness that Forest labored hard to maintain in his publications. Though Barbarella is frequently in jeopardy, her storylines avoid any actual gloom. There is always a solution out of the situations in which she finds herself, and it typically involves intimate relations.
Comic Book Logic is Directly Brought Onscreen
The idea that tales don’t have to outlive their attractiveness is one of the most rewarding and distinctive parts of reading comic strips and literature. If Barbarella lands on a location with a single big joke, Forest may hold her there for a few pages before blasting her off again, before the concept grows boring.
Fonda’s character is subjected to bizarre experiences that have no lasting impact on her. This quick dismissal of some minor narrative threads is aided by Fonda’s significant acting skill; we embrace her emotions to the weirdest stuff, but we also believe her “out of sight, out of mind” approach to outer space. Murderous dolls, for example, materialize and then vanish.
What is the significance of developing a world of distinct superheroes, each with their own set of skills and limitations, if each of their standalone film’s crescendos in the same way? Big baddie wants a brawl, and Superhero of the Day is the only one with the brawn to halt them.
She spends the entire film on a single goal, and she partners up with characters whose abilities are valuable in some scenarios but not in others. Her big confrontation features one of the greatest sci-fi machinery in cinema history; American cinemas dubbed it The Excessive Machine, but French audiences recognized it as “The Orgasmostron,” which is amazing. My point is that Barbarella defeated her huge villain in a way that felt natural to her character’s abilities.
It Died and is Now Being Resurrected
Dynamite Entertainment is recreating the space diva with a reimagined midsummer event called Barbarella. This vibrant sci-fi series, written by bestselling author Sarah Hoyt, features illustrations by Madibek Musabekov (Vampirella vs Purgatori), colorist Ivan Nunes, and letterer Carlos Mangual.
While bouncing from planet to planet, Barbarella’s adventure opens in Camelot, a world populated by the ultra-rich aristocracy eager to escape a congested and decaying galactic imperial power. Barbarella retrieves a desperate message sent by Camelot’s poor underclass, and she swoops off to evaluate the terrible SOS, revealing a plethora of hidden truths on the planet.
Sarah Hoyt is a Prometheus Award and Dragon Award-winning author best known for her sci-fi Darkship Saga and co-writing the Arcane America piece of literature Uncharted with Kevin J. Anderson. This is her first writing project in the realm of comics.
This new iteration looks to not be as sexually charged as the original. Which, in our opinion at Geek Impulse, is a shame. Yes, we believe people should be treated respectfully, but the character was meant to be a sexually liberated women who is skilled and beautiful and gets the job done around the Galaxy. She is the Queen of the galaxy and a strong one at that so we hope it will stay true to the originals while expanding her story in new creative ways.