Ben Oliver

Banner image for Barbarella


What’s that screaming? A good many dramatic situations begin with screaming…
19 January 2022

An astronaut in the distant future (Jane Fonda) is tasked with finding and stopping a scientist gone mad.

Open on a figure in a chunky space suit, floating in a space ship. Slowly, she takes her gloves off then piece by piece takes the rest of her clothes off; it’s a naked and unashamed Jane Fonda and a sign that Barbarella might be the campy sexy 60s fun I signed up for.

Sadly, it’s sort of downhill from there. Some striking and psychedelic set design and several saucy costume changes don’t really save the film from its more tedious parts; and there are plenty.

Jane Fonda is magnetic though (yes, even clothed), bringing a wide-eyed charm to the role that just about carries the film to the end.

Barbarella has left an indelible mark on pop culture with its striking visual imagery and offbeat cheery tone, but ultimately I found it hard to engage with.