Unit One: Cinematic SpacesBarbarella (1968)
Fig 1. Barbarella (1968)Barbarella is breath of fresh air; postured with no intentions to objectify statements,messages or meanings through cinematic space; the production instead aims merely to reflect thesocial and cultural reform of the 60
s, with its whacky characters, strange environments and sets andunderlying sexual imagery. Barbarella, played by the young sex symbol Jane Fonda undergoes an
Alice in Wanderland-like
sexual adventure to retrieve a weapon from the evil Durand Durand.
Various alien men take a keen interest in Fonda, especially when they discover her fun-lovingnature. Even when the mad Durand Durand is trying to kill her in his 'Excessive' machine she onlypurrs with delight. The harder he drives it, the greater the pinnacles of intergalactic ecstasy shereaches until the device is left a smouldering wreck.
The portrayal of sexualimagery alludes to the invention of the pill in the 60
s introducing the acceptability to have sexualintercourse for sheer pleasure for the first time. This is conveyed through the chronology of
journey, she moves from environment to environment with a kittenish innocence whichis slowly depleted through each alien sexual encounter. Not only does Roger Vadim representchanges in sexual desires through the 60
s with the character of Barbarella he also conveys thedramatic change in relationships since the introduction of the pill. This message comes throughstrongest in dialect of Barbarella herself when describing Earth or as we know it, the past before thepill. Barbarella speaks of people having to be a perfect match or perfectly in love to have sexualintercourse just before agreeing to
using the pill. This reflects the change on society thatfor the first time people did not have to have emotional values in the act sex and that for the 60
sthis process could be entirely based on the physical pleasure of the act itself.
"Barbarella" wasreleased the same year as "If . . ." and "2001: A Space Odyssey" -- when sex and language barrierswere evaporating onscreen and films that broke ground won automatic attention.