Barbarella is a 1968 erotic science fiction film directed by Roger Vadim and based on the French Barbarella comics from Jean-Claude Forest.
Tagline: Who can save the universe?
Barbarella is famous for a sequence in which the title character, played by Jane Fonda, undresses in zero gravity during the opening credits.
The whole film is played in a tongue-in-cheek manner; especially when it comes to the frequent (but not explicit) sex scenes. The most controversial of those scenes involves Barbarella being tortured by the use of an organ-like instrument that delivers sexual pleasure in doses that can be lethal, although Barbarella survives the ordeal and is visibly disappointed when it is discovered she has overloaded the machine.
The film was simultaneously shot in French and English. Some characters’ lines were performed by the same actors in both languages; others were not:
- In the French version, Fonda performs her own lines in French.
- Marcel Marceau’s lines are dubbed into English.
De Laurentiis returned to camp science fiction (but with far less erotica) with the 1980 cult classic Flash Gordon.
- When Virna Lisi was told to play the part of Barbarella, she terminated her contract with United Artists and returned to Italy.
- SoGo, the evil city Barbarella travels to, is a reference to Biblical cities Sodom and Gomorra.
- Future Pink Floyd guitarist David Gilmour was one of the session musicians who performed the film’s original score.
- The scenes during the opening credits where Barbarella seems to float around her spaceship were filmed by having Jane Fonda lie on a huge piece of plexiglas with a picture of the spaceship underneath her. It was then filmed from above, creating the illusion that she is in zero gravity. (If you look carefully, you can see the reflection in the glass as she removes her gloves.)
- Anita Pallenberg was dubbed by Fenella Fielding.
- Dildano’s password, “Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch”, is the name of a real village in Wales, United Kingdom (unsurprisingly, it’s the longest place name in the UK).
- The names “Stomoxys” and “Glossina”, the Great Tyrant’s nieces, are actually the names of flies. Stomoxys calcitrans is the stable fly, and glossina is the African (or tsetse) fly.
- The film’s missing scientist character famously inspired the band name of 1980s pop stars Duran Duran.
- Barbarella’s costume was inspired by designer Paco Rabanne
- Barbarella was the first science fiction hero from the comics to be adapted into a feature film as opposed to a serial (Flash Gordon and Buck Rogers, her male predecessors, had only appeared in serials up to this point).
- This film is listed among The 100 Most Amusingly Bad Movies Ever Made in Golden Raspberry Award founder John Wilson’s book THE OFFICIAL RAZZIE® MOVIE GUIDE.
- The original author Jean-Claude Forest based the character of Barbarella on Brigitte Bardot – who ironically was director Roger Vadim’s previous wife.
- Sixties sex symbol Raquel Welch turned down the title role.