Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Barbarella (1968)

A film critique describes Barbarella as being “bright and loud and trashy with a little soft porn thrown in for good measure” this pretty much sums up Barbarella. Many of the sets are busy and alive with colour which is a backdrop for a “trashy” and sexist storyline full of cheesy gags.     
Being made in the sixties the loud and colourful hippy influences channel through in the set designs especially the interior to Barbarella’s space ship with the faux fur flooring and psychedelic arrangement of flashing lights. Alongside this are some strange yet bold choices made in the concept designs later in the film like an angel that lives in a nest also a man floating around in a bong under the name of essence of man...Certainly not your typical view of the future. However the film did achieve a terrifying scene when Barbarella is being violently attacked by carnivorous china dolls, especially when china dolls can look haunting at the best of times.
Interior of Barbarella's Spaceship

Barbarella Dolls
“The designs are 1960s psychedelic with as many Freudian twists as the film's makers can come up with, and when all is said and done you can't help but roll your eyes in amusement.” The film is full of these sexual gag's some coming across in a sexist way.
The film picks up on the breakdown of social stigma surrounding the sexual behaviour women from with introduction of the contraceptive pill to the public. The pill gave women sexual freedoms that lead to the idea of women becoming more promiscuous and the character Barbarella embraces this promiscuous attitude. References to the pill can be interpreted within the film when they refer to the sex pill leading to “space sex” by touching hands and synchronised bobbing.

Barbarella "Sace Sex"
The storyline starts off with the world’s number one secret agent being assigned a top secret mission then Seventeen minutes into the film she is kidnapped by two 8 year old girls... and it goes downhill from there. The basic outline of the plot consists of Barbarella crashing her spaceship all over the universe having sexual relations with various different male life forms that do the detective work for her. Overall the film sums up a very clumsy yet helpless view of women who rely on men coming across as being sexist on a number of levels.

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