Shot directly after Mario Bava’s Danger: Diabolik, this Roger Vadim-directed movie is based on the comic book of the same name by Jean-Claude Forest. The film stars Vadim’s then-wife Jane Fonda as Barbarella, a United Earth agent sent to find scientist Durand Durand, who has created a weapon that could destroy humanity.
Vadim was hired to direct this film after producer Dino De Laurentiis purchased the rights. This led to Vadim looking to cast several actresses in the title role, including Virna Lisi, Brigitte Bardot (that’s who the character was originally based on) and Sophia Loren before ending up picking his wife.
In case you’re wondering why this movie is such a mess, Charles B. Griffith was the last writer to work on it, saying that he had done uncredited work on the script after fifteen other writers — including Terry Southern — worked on the movie.
This film is packed with fashion, amazing sets — you can credit Bava’s film for some of that, and great characters, like John Phillip Law as Pygar the angel, Anita Pallenberg (Performance) as the Black Queen, Milo O’Shea as Durand-Durand, Marcel Marceau in a rare speaking role as Professor Ping, David Hemmings (Deep Red) as Dildano and even cameos from Fabio Testi and Antonio Sabato (who was originally to play the role that Hemmings ended up doing).
So yeah. This is a gorgeous film that makes no sense whatsoever. Is that such a bad thing?
A sequel was planned with producer Robert Evans called Barbarella Goes Down, but it never happened. Nor did a 1990 remake, a Robert Rodriguez idea or a potential project with Nicolas Winding Refn, who moved on to other projects, saying, “certain things are better left untouched. You don’t need to remake everything.”