Barbarella (1968) [Arrow Video Limited Edition] [Blu-Ray]

In a faraway future, a young woman goes through a string of misadventures while looking absolutely fabulous. 

Based on the comic strip by Jean-Claude Forest, the film adapts the character and her adventures with a screenplay by Terry Southern and Roger Vadim (with collaborators Claude Brulé, Vittorio Bonicelli, Clement Biddle Wood, Brian Degas, Tudor Gates, Jean-Claude Forest, and Charles B. Griffith) with Vadim also directing. The story is simple yet filled with twists and turns, very few of which you see coming if you let yourself really get grabbed by the set-up, the décor, the cast, the costumes, etc. The writing here is very much of its era, so expect lines and bits that feel outdated and some that will feel odd, but the film came out in 1968, thus 55 years ago, so things have changed. However, the film has aged not too terribly and while it looks and feels like a film from the 1960s, there is something about it being set in the 41st century that helps it stay futuristic and still on point on some front. Here, the main takeaway is that the film does feel very much like a film from the 1960s, but it adds to its charm.  

The cast here is mostly solid with that 1960s flare. Jane Fonda (who has recently said in interviews that she’s come back around and loves Barbarella as part of her resume) is charming, demure at times, almost tough at other times, she made the part something iconic here, something many have tried to replicate and failed. She is the original here, the one that has influenced, inspired, and been copied ad nauseum. Seeing Fonda in Barbarella is required for just about anyone who watched scifi, loves futuristic fashion, and wants some inspiration for just about anything. Yes, this is full on fangirling on Jane Fonda and she’s absolutely deserving. Of course, she’s not the only member of the cast, a cast composed of an odd mix of French actors and others, a cast list that looks like it wouldn’t work on paper, but absolutely does on film. Here, pretty much everyone gave exactly what the film needed. Well, a few are a bit off, but 55 years later, overall the performances are decent and work for the film with a couple that will bring out the negative reactions of course.  

The film is one of those that defines an era and for much more than the story, directing, and acting, but also for its music by Bob Crewe and Charles Fox, and mainly for its wardrobe. The work on the costumes here is stunning. It’s fun, it’s colorful, it shows a very 1960s view of what future people would be wearing. The work by designers Paco Rabanne and Jacques Fonteray created a style and a way of seeing the future. Those costumes influenced and inspired for decades to come, all to way until now. The work the designers put into this film is something else and must be appreciated.  

This rerelease on Blu reviewed here looks great. Of course, the film was shot in the late 1960s, so there are limitations, but the presentation here is solid for image and sound with a brand new 4k restoration from the original negative. The options on here include the French track as well with Jane Fonda’s voice in French, which is something fun that may be more fun for French-speakers. Of course, there’s a ton of other features here, some better than the others. The best ones here are easily the interview with camera operator Roberto Girometti about the filming, the isolated score, which is fun to have on randomly, the behind-the-scenes featurette Barbarella Forever!  

Overall, this new release of Barbarella is a solid option for fans of the film casual or hardcore. There is plenty of material here to watch and learn from. The content as well as the art for it is great. The film itself has aged decently with a few things here and there that show the film’s age, Jane Fonda is fantastic in the part. This is a film some love, some will love, and some just don’t. This release is a good one to add to the collection.