BarbarellaThe girl who took sex into outer space in 1968 was a fabulous sixties phenomenon. 'Cult Status' is just too small a concept to describe it's impact. When multi-billionaire Ted Turner (Turner Classic Movies) married Jane Fonda, I can assure you he was really marrying Barbarella!
1967-1968 was one of those truly creative periods in Hollywood when the 'Smother's Brothers' were still on mainstream network TV voicing the views of the emerging counterculture until it got them fired in 1969. Names like George Harrison, Joan Baez, Buffalo Springfield, Cass Elliot, Cream, Donovan, Jefferson Airplane and The Doors (and many others) were commonplace and revolutionizing the music industry. Here is a complete list of the 6,100 movie titles released during that time period: (CLICK HERE)
At the same time Hollywood was releasing films reflecting the views of the emerging counterculture but you had to read between the lines to 'get the message'. Films like The Graduate, Cool Hand Luke, Bonnie & Clyde, The Dirty Dozen, In The Heat Of The Night, Guess Who's Coming To Dinner, Point Blank, To Sir With Love and In Like Flint were all released in 1967 (CLICK HERE) and reflected almost a caricature of what young people were seeing in their real lives as the sexual revolution was well underway.
Barbarella began life in the spring of 1962 as a SciFi heroine in a French comic strip created by one Jean-Claude Forest. It's commonly accepted that Jean-Claude as with most illustrators of the time had been influenced by earlier underground pornographic comics created in the 30s and 40s known as "Tijuana Bibles". These little gems were generally about eight pages long and generally distributed from Tijuana Mexico, hence the name.
I remember seeing some of these when I was very young and since then they have become eminently collectible. Here are some samples....
Gert Gabbo | Dagwood | Blondie | Joan Crawford | Dick Tracy |
WebSite: CLICK HERE
The illustrators of these little gems capitalized on well established movie stars and popular comic strip characters. Some even said the major illustrators themselves did many of these 'Tijuana Bibles' on the side to supplement their income or illustrate some dark fantasy CLICK HERE.
Enter screenwriter, director, producer and author Roger Vadim. Son of a Russian immigrant and French mother living in Paris with an eye for fabulous ladies. At 22yrs. old he 'discovered' a fifteen year old French beauty he married two years later when she was just seventeen. Her name was Brigitte Bardot. By 1957 they were divorced.
Next came a relationship with beautiful Swedish actress Annette Stroyberg which produced a daughter and they separated in 1960. In 1961 Roger was now 33yrs. old and fell for another beautiful underage French actress and had a torrid short term affair that produced a son (Christian). One month after his birth they broke up. Her name was Catherine Deneuve.
In Paris, late 1963 Roger moved in with 26yr. old American film actress Jane Fonda. It was at this time Jane began to be indoctrinated with Communism and the plans for making the movie Barbarella began. This was before the now famous picture of her sitting on the North Vietnamese Anti Aircraft Gun in-placement in North Vietnam and in which she made all those radio broadcasts exalting communism from North Vietnam. Click the NVA flag on the right to read more on this issue. Here is an interview with Jane and Roger Vadim shortly after they made Barbarella (CLICK HERE).
There is no question that Roger had made Jane one of the most desirable women on earth, or in space for that matter. This movie catapulted Jane to the top of the Hollywood "A" list and she became an icon for the emerging counterculture. Click the Pic on the right to enlarge.
The year is 40,000. As Barbarella's spaceship is zooming through the vast void of space and she is peacefully floating around in zero-gravity inside, suddenly interrupted by a call from the President of Earth and told that a young scientist, Durand Durand (Milo O'Shea), is threatening the ancient universal peace and Barbarella has been chosen to find and stop him to save the universe. And so this very creative adventure begins...
The colorful characters and fantastic situations she runs into are a tribute to sexual arousal. The 'Excessive Machine' known locally as 'The Orgasmitron' was one of my favorites. Barbarella is placed in the 'The Orgasmitron' by the evil Durand-Durand. Played like an organ he begins delicately to introduce the theme which only dis-robes Barbarella. Culminating in a tremendous crescendo of sound inducing multiple climactic moments to the physically innocent Barbarella. It was supposed to kill her with pleasure, instead her ability to absorb ultimate pleasure time after time finally renders the 'The Orgasmitron' a bent and broken mass of burned out wiring.....
Durand-Durand tries to Kill her With Pleasure
(Use The Slider to See Barbarella suffer the Orgasmitron)
The Great Tyrant was another favorite character, a gorgeous (apparently bisexual) dark queen who in her dream chamber, could make Barbarella's fantasies take physical form. A rapacious amazon that could take on Barbarella or Pygar the blind flightless angel played by John Phillip Law. The queen was played Miss Anita Pallenberg, the sometimes girlfriend of Mick Jagger and sometimes girlfriend of Keith Richards from 'The Rolling Stones'. (Remember, it was the sixties and this was the heart of the counterculture)
/ img src="" style="width:570px;border:1px SOLID BLACK; padding:15px; background-color: BEIGE;" title="Barbarella's ship crashes" /> / img src="" style="width:570px;border:1px SOLID BLACK; padding:15px; background-color: BEIGE;" title="Barbarella's ship crashes" />
This has to be one of my all time favorite cult movies. The counterculture were trying to stop the Vietnam War and the message was the anthem of the sixties 'Make Love, Not War' effectively delivered in this tongue in cheek Science Fiction format. Jane Fonda and Anita Pallenberg set the standard for the promiscuous counterculture ideal of beauty and sexual liberation. The hormone levels in the theaters were overwhelming. Make sure you see this one!
Here are some of my favorite Jane Fonda pix.
Click Pic Above for Main Menu