December 14, 2010

SPACE CAMP: BARBARELLA

It's Space Camp week on Spy Vibe! As I busy myself with end-of-term grading and holiday plans, I thought it would be fun to look at quick and campy snapshots of some of the classic space-age moments in 1960s entertainment. Our last post featured David Bowie's first mix and video for Space Oddity (1969). Today we look at the infamous title sequence from Vadim's Barbarella (1968). Before we blast off, let's just mention the imagery. The opening sequence, which features a strip tease in outer-space zero-gravity, is pretty stunning. The film was shot by cinematographer Claude Renoir (nephew of director Jean Renoir), who would later go on to shoot The Spy Who Loved Me (1977). Jane Fonda's wonderful space-age costumes were inspired and designed by Paco Rabanne and Jacques Fonteray (Moonraker). Rabanne was famous for incorporating unconventional materials and technology in his work, often integrating fabrics and sculptural forms. To me, the costumes are really the star of the film! (more about Paco at our pages, Fear & Fashion, Mods to Moongirls). Unfortunately, that's where the main thrusters of the film burn out. The actors, Jane Fonda, David Hemmings (Blow Up), and John Phillip Law (Danger Diabolik), do what they can with the overall static/stage quality of the directing and ridiculous dialog. The film, like its weightless strip tease, is a campy come-on that doesn't quite deliver (especially if you saw the edited-for TV cut). But it is a wonderful time capsule of our fascination with space, stylish adventure, and the open, playful sexuality of the era.


Barbarella was based on the French comic by Jean-Claude Forest (official website here). The current buzz regarding a feature film re-make is that Anne Hathaway is being considered for the title role. The movie has been in development for quite some time, however, so don't use up your air tanks waiting for a quick premiere. As we wrote in our review for the new Green Hornet trailer, I hope that Universal is aiming high for a relaunch that will add to the franchise mythology and not just be another flash in the pan. Caution to younger Spy Vibers, both the opening credit sequence below and Barbarella comics contain nudity. Still image from Fashion Windows here.

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