Camp classic 'Barbarella' turns 50 in 2018

By: H&I Staff    Posted: December 7, 2017, 3:52PM

Image: Paramount Pictures

Barbarella is quite the spectacle of a movie. From Jane Fonda's outlandish outfits to the cringeworthy dialogue, there is a reason it's gone down in history as one of the campiest films of all time. It takes the 1960s' obsession with space and turns it into a movie unlike anything that had been seen before. 

Director Roger Vadim had been quoted as saying that Barbarella was "just a lovely, average girl with a terrific space record and a lovely body," and that he wasn't going to intellectualize the character. Though there is some satire in the film, it wasn't meant to become the B-movie only shown late at night that it's been known as. As a whole, Barbarella isn't taken all that seriously, due to the ridiculous sexual overtones and fact that the story really doesn't go anywhere, but it's surely a film you'll remember. In 2018, Barbarella celebrates its 50th anniversary, so let's talk about some fun facts you might not know about it.

1

The opening credit scene that features Barbarella floating through the spaceship was achieved by having Jane Fonda lay on plexiglass and holding a picture of the spaceship beneath her. According to Grindhouse Database, you can see her reflection in the glass when she takes her gloves off.

Image: Paramount Pictures

2

Raquel Welch, Virna Lisi and Sophia Loren turned down the role before it was offered to Jane Fonda.

Image: Wikipedia

3

Surprisingly, there has never been a reboot of Barbarella. However, Roger Vadim, co-writer, director and Fonda’s ex-husband, wanted to make a sequel in the early 2000s with Drew Barrymore or Sherilynn Fenn as Barbarella. He died in 2000 and the sequel never happened. 

Image: Wikimedia Commons

4

The author of the comic book based the character of Barbarella on Brigitte Bardot. She was originally an outlaw, instead of the naive protagonist we all know and love.

Image: Wikipedia

5

According to IMDB, despite Barbarella being set in space, many of the set directions and art were inspired by The Wizard of Oz. The director of photography was Claude Renoir — painter Pierre-Auguste Renoir ’s grandson.

Image: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

6

TV Tropes claims that Ian McKellen auditioned for the movie, but didn’t get a part. All wasn’t lost, though. Jane Fonda made him breakfast as he waited to audition. 

Image: AP Images

7

Despite the fact that Marcel Marceau was a famous mime, he was cast as Professor Ping — his first speaking role ever.

Image: Paramount Pictures

8

Barbarella was the first sci-fi hero to have an entire feature-length film based on her. Previous science fiction heroes like Buck Rogers and Flash Gordon had serials based on their stories. Their movies didn’t come until after Barbarella.

Image: V Magazine


9

Barbarella’s costumes are frequently the subject of mockery, because they’re so sexy and clearly not fit for space travel. But, most notably, her green plastic dress, was designed by the legendary Paco Rabanne, known for his mod, outrageous designs in the ‘60s, not NASA.

Image: Paramount Pictures