Few films start out more promisingly than the 1968 sci-fi spoof “Barbarella,” when Jane Fonda performs a zero-gravity striptease, shedding a bulky space suit piece by piece while strategically-placed opening credits keep the audience from ogling too much of her — almost.
Directed by Fonda's first ex-husband, French filmmaker Roger Vadim, this galaxy-galloping sex romp succeeds in titillating and tickling the funny bone in a PG sort of way — which is all it sets out to do — while its colorful and wildly imaginative otherworldly studio sets and special effects never looked better than they do in Blu-ray, even if they are often cheesy and dated.
This Franco-Italian production was filmed at the height of the psychedelic era and certainly looks of its time. Barbarella's spaceship is lined floor to ceiling with orange shag carpet and most of the visual effects — even space itself — look like the inside of a lava lamp or a Jefferson Airplane light show.
Based on the French comic strip by Jean-Claude Forest, the screenplay by Terry Southern (“Dr. Strangelove,” “The Magic Christian”) is set in the 41st century, when Earth has long been a peaceful planet and weapons are almost unheard of.
Renegade scientist Durand Durand (Milo O'Shea) has invented the Positronic Ray, and the president of Earth (Claude Dauphin) calls on sexy space adventurer Barbarella to retrieve the doctor from the planet Tau Ceti. The president warns her that little is known of the planet's inhabitants.