In the 40th century, when peace & love prevail on earth, earth
scientist professor Duran Duran, who has developed something as unheard of
as a weapon (in this case the posictronic ray, whatever that is), has
disappeared on Alpha 7, so the earth's president (Claude Dauphin) sends
his best agent Barbarella (Jane Fonda) to find him ... but the mission
doesn't go quite as planned from the beginning, when Barbarella crashes
her spaceship onto the üplanet's surface, & is promptly attacked by a
bunch of children who promptly subject her to mechanical dolls that are
supposed to bite her todeath ... but she is saved by catchman (called so
because he catches shildren) Mark hand (Ugo Tognazzi) after most of her
oputfit is fashionably torn apart. As a reward, Mark Hand wants to make
love to her (but not by way of pills as they do on earth these days but
the old--fashioned way, with nakedness & penetration & all.
Slightly irritated but also curious, Barbarella agrees ... & it seems
from here on she's hooked on IT.
Before parting, Mark hand tells her that she might find Duran Duran in
the city of Sogo, but she soon gets lost in the labyrinths surrounding the
city, where all the outcasts who are not evil enough to be inside are
kept. There, Barbarella makes the acquaintance of a blind angel, Pygar
(John Phillip Law), who might be able to fly her to the village, but alas,
he has lost the will to fly ... so Barbarella invites him o a night of
you-know-what with her that would wake up the dead ... let alone make an
angel fly again ...
Once inside the city, it doesn't take long before Sogo's evil tyrant,
the Black Queen (Anita Pallenberg) & her sadistic right-hand-man, the
Concierge (Milo O'Shea) have taken both Barbarella & Pygar captive.
Pygar has soon become the Black Queen's stoic lovetoy, but after
he fails to truly satisfy her, she has him thrown to the Matmos, an acidic
lake of pure evil floating under Sogo. Barbarella meanwhile is thrown to
the birds, who are supposed to peck her to death - but fortunately she is
saved by Dildano (David Hemmings), a rebel who desperately wants to make
love to her - but the earth-style way, with pills, which has pretty much
lost its appeal to her, but she agrees anyways. She can persuade him to
organize a revolt while he can persuade her to take care of the queen
& gives her the key to the Black Queen's Chamber of Dreams, the
only place where the queen is vulnerable ...
But heading to the chamber, Barbarella is agian captured by the
Concierge, who this time around subjects her to his orgasm organ (not an
organ as in penis but still able to give orgasms), a torture device that
overpleasures women to death ... but not so Barbarella, who has by now
become so experienced in all things sexual that she exhausts the organ.
Only when emerging from multiple orgasm land does Barbarella realize that
the Concierge is really Duran Duran & tht he, like herself, wants to
overthrow the Black Queen ... if for other reasons, as she soon has to
find out when he locks her & the queen into the Chamber of Dreams,
& then takes over Sogo ... but by now, Dildano's rebel forces have
formed & attack the city, bringing down its defense forces &
forcing Duran Duran to use the positronic ray to destroy them all ...
which is when the queen decides to have her ultimate revenge (& the
only thing she can do being locked into her chamber of dreams), float the
whole city with Matmos & have it (& herself too) devoured.
Duran Duran of course is devoured int he process, but the queen
actually survives as she is with Barbarella, & since Barbarella is so
good, the Matmos can't devour her & builds a bubble around her big
enough for them both.
Once having emerged from the Matmos, the 2 women find Pygar still alive
(who was also too good to be devoured), who flies them both to safety. But
why the Black Queen too, you may (or may not) ask. Because Angels ahve
The comicstrip Barbarella made its debut in the French V-Magazine
in 1962, & instantly became famous & notorious because it was
(sexually) incredibly explicit for its time (but might be regarded tame by
today's standards). It was only a question of time until it was made into
a film (which was actually way more (sexually) restrained than the comic.
About the film, many not too flattering things were said: that it is a
futuristic stripshow with a weak storyline, that it has an episodic
structure, a style-over-content execution, & that Roger Vadim in
general is an overrated director of cinematic kitsch.
All of this is essentially true ... & it is missing the point. Barbarella
is not a film to watch for its story, it's a tongue-in-cheek psychedelic
piece of consciously cheesy 60's erotica in outrageous sets & costumes
(from Barbarella's fur-lined spaceship interiors to her ever skimpier
outfits - provided she wears any), like a trip to another planet, a silly
one, granted, but also a very enjoyable one.