Adapted from a French comic book by director Roger Vadim, BARBARELLA’s rambling, episodic structure is merely an excuse to revel in eye-popping art design, flagrant sexual hijinks and just a dash of social commentary (in the distant future, only the lower classes still make in love in the physical sense). This psychedelic sexploitation romp is a candy colored ode to the joys of comic books, with all the stylized sets and charmingly retro special effects you can find in the eighties’ Flash Gordon movie, only way dirtier.
Barbarella (Jane Fonda), an astro-navigatrix and adventuress from the year 40,000, receives an assignment from the President of the Republic of Earth who reaches her via a nude statue that doubles as a video-phone viewing screen. He happens to catch her in the middle of a zero-g striptease as she wriggles out of her spacesuit, the opening credits doing a barely sufficient job of covering her prurient parts. A renegade scientist named Dr. Durand-Durand has created a weapon called the Positronic Ray and he’s going to use it to rule the Universe. It’s up to BARBARELLA to stop him. Embarking on a swirling pop art journey of intergalactic adventure and sexual discovery, BARBARELLA crosses galaxies searching for the sinful city of SoGo, surviving an attack by children armed with sharp-toothed mechanical dolls, crossing vast icy wastes in a sled powered by space stingrays, escaping a machine designed to kill its victims with sexual pleasure, and making love to a blind angel and restoring his self-confidence.