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I find it odd that a campy science fiction movie from the sixties like BARBARELLA ($30) would arrive on DVD before a lot of more mainstream titles. Still, BARBARELLA is worth the price of admission, just to see a naked and very nubile Jane Fonda in her pre-workout days. BARBARELLA takes place in the year 40,000 A.D. and stars Ms. Fonda as the title character. As it turns out, Barbarella is the best "astronavigatrix" in the business, so she has been assigned the unenviable task of tracking down a dangerous renegade scientist named Duran Duran.

Barbarella's search for Duran takes her to the planet Lythion, where she does battle with the forces of The Great Tyrant (Anita Pallenberg). Of course, Barbarella gets a bit of help from a blind angel named Pygar (John Phillip Law), as well as Dildano (David Hemmings), the leader of the rebel forces that oppose The Great Tyrant. BARBARELLA is a campy delight, that features all the production values of a STAR TREK episode, as well as the swinging sixties sensibilities of AUSTIN POWERS. Director Roger Vadim maintains a tongue-in-cheek style that includes sixties psychedelia and making sure that his leading lady shows as much skin as a 1968 PG rating will allow. The international cast of BARBARELLA also features Milo O'Shea, Marcel Marceau, Claude Dauphin and Ugo Tognazzi.

Paramount has made BARBARELLA available on DVD in a delightful wide screen presentation that includes the 16:9 component. The film element occasionally shows its age, as well as a bit of grain. However, the good-looking Letterboxed transfer recreates the film 2.35:1 theatrical framing quite admirably. Image quality is excellent for a film of this vintage; sharpness and detail are only slightly less than that of a brand new Hollywood production. Color reproduction is also very good for a 1968 production. The bright vivid hues of this Technicolor movie are immaculately recreated without any signs of distortion. Blacks are faithfully reproduced, while the image boasts solid contrast and very good shadow detail. Paramount has done a first rate job really with BARBARELLA, thus showing that a brand-new anamorphic transfer truly brings out the beauty of an older movie. Digital compression artifacts are well concealed on this DVD.

The two-channel monaural Dolby Digital soundtrack is reasonably good, especially when one considers the age of this movie. Dialogue is cleanly reproduced, and the track is worth amplifying for its oh-so-sixties musical accompaniment. A French language soundtrack has also been encoded onto the DVD. The interactive menus are fairly basic, providing the standard scene and language selection features, as well as offering access to a theatrical trailer.


Barbarella (1968)


DVD reviews are Copyright 1999 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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