Sci-fi Fans Fonda
Paramount Home Video's
DVD release of Barbarella won't go down in history as a major sci-fi classic,
but it's the type of film that sci-fi movie buffs will want in their libraries
The movie is based
on the French comic strip of the same name, and follows a young Jane Fonda
- as the titular interstellar "secret agent" - on a mission
to the Tau Ceti system in search of missing scientist Durand Durand. Along
the way she's attacked by demon devil dolls, birds, leather men, and the
Concierge to the Great Tyrant herself.
But fresh, "innocent"
Barbarella gains a lot of allies, too - all of whom with the exception
of one are very male and interested in exploring Barbarella's feminine
an enjoyable interplanetary romp, though the film itself has virtually
no pacing. Still, the production values are good, as is the cast. Fonda
sparkles radiantly as the wide-eyed Barbarella (the movie was directed
by her husband of the time and he does a good job of making her look good),
along with John Phillip Law (who went on to play the lead in "The
Golden Voyage of Sinbad") as the angel Pygar. Legendary mime Marcel
Marceau actually has a speaking role as an eccentric scientist, and Milo
O'Shea makes an appropriately mad scientist with delusions of grandeur.
The DVD doesn't break
a lot of new ground, but that's okay. It's presented in a 2.35:1 widescreen
aspect ratio and is enhanced for 16:9 TV's. This latter point may not
mean much now, but over the next few years it'll become increasingly important
as we move into the era of widescreen digital TV's.
In fact, it isn't
a bad idea to look for this feature on your DVD purchases. We recently
tried some "non-16:9-enhanced" DVD's on a 16:9 TV and they end
up with black bars above and below - and to the sides - of the
screen, whereas 16:9-enhanced DVD's fill the wider screen from side to
side - as they should.
Anyway, the audio
is Dolby Digital mono, but rather than direct the audio signal to the
front center channel, Paramount's techs have sent them to the main front
stereo speakers. This means that, depending upon where you sit in the
room, the "ghost image" that should localize sounds at the TV
could put it somewhere else. Not the biggest deal, but something to consider.
Other extras are limited
to chapter stops and the theatrical trailer. Audio tracks are limited
to English and French; there are no subtitles.
The video transfer
is good, though the DVD medium is capable of much better. Still, as usual,
the DVD pressing beats the pants off VHS! Audio quality is okay considering
the film's age and the fact that it doesn't appear this disc has been
given any special remastering.
On the whole, Barbarella
- the movie and the character - still looks good after thirty years. It's
a typical Dino De Laurentiis production (lots of money spent on it, but
relatively mindless for the most part) - but that's not necessarily a
bad thing. Just don't do in expecting a science fiction masterpiece.
We wonder how Jane
Fonda feels about it now.
of the Galaxy, from Paramount Home Video
98 minutes, widescreen (2.35:1), Dolby Digital mono
starring Jane Fonda, John Phillip Law, Marcel Marceau, David Hemmings,
Ugo Tognazzi and Anita Pallenberg
Screenplay by Terry Southern, Produced by Dino de Laurentiis
Directed by Roger Vadim
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