Sunday, January 11, 2015

Movie review - "Barbarella" (1968) ***

The sort of film you wish was better because the whole idea of it is so great - and it may seem better on re-viewings because you know what you're getting into and won't be disappointed. It's Roger Vadim's first English language film, though made in Italy, and was a big budget adaptation of a kind-of popular comic strip (there was a brief vogue of these in the late 60s which also saw Modesty Blaise and Danger Diabolik).

I get the feeling Vadim was found out a bit here - he'd come to fame via exploiting successive lovers on screen (doing it well) and pushing the boundaries of screen eroticism. He had a big budget here, and a supportive studio, and while the set design and costumes are consistently interesting, some of the script funny (Charles B. Griffith was an uncredited writer) and Jane Fonda fabulous in the title role, Vadim fails to get much drama or excitement out of it. I think he was distracted by the design; and after watching a bunch of his movies, I've come to the conclusion he didn't really have much of a grip on story or drama... he was really a photographer and designer rather than a director. None of the action scenes are that thrilling - there's no sense of urgency. It all feels distant.

Still, Jane is heaps of fun in a series of sexy outfits, from her disrobing in the title, to wearing boots and stumbling about, having sex with various men, doing a series of great double takes, and even defeating a sex machine by her ability to have pleasure.

The support cast is excellent - Marcelle Marceau talks as a professor, Milo O'Shea is a mad scientist, David Hemmings alright as a revolutionary, John Phillip Law is objectified as an angel, and Anita Pallenberg perfect as a tyrannical queen. Many visually interesting moments such as the killer dolls.

No comments: