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Barbarella (Blu-ray) Official AVSForum Review

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )

Film: attachment.php?attachmentid=109942&d=1210373647

Extras: attachment.php?attachmentid=109939&d=1210373637

Audio/Video total rating:

( Max score: 100 )

Studio and Year: Paramount - 1968
MPAA Rating: PG
Feature running time: 98 minutes
Genre: Sci-fi/Adventure

Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.35:1
Resolution: 1080p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby TrueHD Mono, Spanish/French Dolby Digital Mono
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Starring: Jane Fonda, John Phillip Law, Marcel Marceau, David Hemmings
Directed by: Roger Vadim
Written by: Terry Southern
Region Code: A,B,C

Blu-ray Disc release Date: July 3, 2012

"The space age adventuress whose sex-ploits are among the most bizarre ever seen "

Film Synopsis:

Barbarella is marked by the same audacity and originality, fantasy, humor, beauty and horror, cruelty and eroticism that make comic books such a favorite. The setting is the planet Lythion in the year 40,000, when Barbarella (Jane Fonda) makes a forced landing while traveling through space. She acts like a female James Bond, vanquishing evil in the forms of robots and monsters. She also rewards, in an uninhibited manner, the handsome men who assist her in the adventure. Whether she is wrestling with Black Guards, the evil Queen, or the Angel Pygar, she just can't seem to avoid losing at least a part of her skin-tight space suit!

My Take:

In the year 40,000, Barbarella, a beautiful, provocative, space traveling heroine is tasked by the President of Earth with tracking down Durand-Durand, inventor of the Positronic Ray, before it falls into the wrong hands. She puts her beguiling sexuality and feminine wiles to good use in an adventure filled with challenges she is quite capable and eager to meet.

Based on Jean Claude Forest’s French comic Barbarella must have seemed pretty far out there when it was released back in 1968. Certainly reflective of the time period with its shaggy style carpeting, psychedelic aesthetics, and cheesy special effects, this is more than your typical 60’s sci-fi adventure. Unfortunately more doesn’t equate to better as this is a pretty bad movie. The funny thing (not funny ha ha) is that it is one of those films that is so overtly bad it kind of grows on you.

I remember the talk around school when I was younger when it would air on cable TV, which is how I first saw it. I never actually watched it from start to finish but have clear recollections of my motivation to see it. Back then Jane Fonda was pretty popular both in films and through her workout videos etc. and seeing her prancing around in those revealing/form fitting outfits was worth sitting through what was even back then to a preteen boy, a terrible movie.

Fast forward thirty plus years and it lands on my doorstep for review. Here I was sitting down preparing to watch Barbarella and deep down couldn’t help but feel a little bit of that preteen nostalgia especially during the opening sequence. The storyline takes place in an alternate time and is elementary and reminiscent of the type that you might expect from a base level comic book narrative. The word “secret” is used countless times to describe everything from clothing to doorways to plans in an attempt to impart a sort of espionage authenticity. Barbarella is the titular heroine who is well equipped in more ways than one as the plot has an air or eroticism that comes attached to the proceedings.

The situations are audacious and the dialogue/character designs are campy but there is a low level of satire that underscores them which sort of makes the overt silliness of it all kind of tolerable. When you add Jane Fonda’s lithe figure in the variety of scantily clad outfits featured throughout, the tolerance level (depending on your point of view) could be even higher. While I appreciated that I couldn’t escape the feeling of interminability that accompanies the droning plot.

Barbarella has amassed a cult following which given its blend of titillation, nostalgia and genre bending is probably understandable. It’s really not a very good movie but I must admit that all these years later its original appeal remains intact. I guess there’s something that can be said for that.

Parental Guide:

This film contains sexual references, thematic material and brief nudity.

AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

Audio: 78

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Dynamics: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373692

  • Low frequency extension: attachment.php?attachmentid=109944&d=1210373692

  • Surround Sound presentation: attachment.php?attachmentid=109943&d=1210373692

  • Clarity/Detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373699

  • Dialogue Reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373699

Video: 90

(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

  • Resolution/Clarity: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

  • Black level/Shadow detail: attachment.php?attachmentid=109946&d=1210373692

  • Color reproduction: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

  • Fleshtones: attachment.php?attachmentid=109947&d=1210373692

  • Compression: attachment.php?attachmentid=109948&d=1210373692

Barbarella comes to Blu-ray Disc from Paramount HE featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 32 Mbps and lossless Dolby TrueHD Mono audio that has an average bitrate of 1.1 Mbps.

Here is another solid catalog release title from Paramount that delivers excellent overall picture quality. Images are resolute with appreciable levels of refinement that bring out discernible detail in the large variety of objects, backgrounds and aliens/people featured in the film. Blacks are nice and deep, contrast is spot on, and shadow detail provides a discerning sense of depth. There are instances where the video takes on a slightly smoother/softer quality but this innate to the photography. “Earth” tones and primary colors are naturally rendered and noticeably delineated. Fleshtones are on target and lifelike in depiction. The video has a noticeable veil of grain that gives it a filmic texture that while obvious is never obtrusive. This is an excellent high definition presentation that appears faithful to the film’s original elements.

The monaural soundtrack is presented in Dolby TrueHD lossless and while it won’t knock your socks off I found it delivered the components of the original recording beautifully. The auditory is clean and free of unwanted clicks, pops or background hiss. Dialogue intelligibility is excellent as it is never lost amidst the other sounds coming through the central channel. There are a few occasions where the low end support adds punch but otherwise things remain in the limited dynamic spectrum provided by the recording. The end result is a satisfying and appropriate audio presentation that compliments the source quite nicely.

Bonus Features:

  • (HD) Theatrical tralier

Final Thoughts:

Barbarella is a campy, silly and dated sci-fi experience that can hardly be taken seriously as a film. That isn’t to suggest that at some level, depending on your point of view, it doesn’t qualify as entertainment. I look at it like it is what it is and if that appeals to you than you’re going to be pleased with its debut on Blu-ray Disc from Paramount Home Entertainment. The faithful high definition video presentation looks terrific and is complimented by the lossless Dolby TrueHD Monaural soundtrack. Bad or not it would be unfair to say that I didn’t get a kick out of Barbarella. If you’re a fan this Blu-ray offering is a must have plain and simple.


Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

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Onkyo PR-SC5508 THX Ultra 2 Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-93 Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Panasonic DMP-BDT310 3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
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SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
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Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
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post #2 of 14
You're candor is always appreciated Ralph. I can't help but to feel a little nostalgic preteen embarrassment even reading your review about Barbarella (more embarrassment just saying the title - lol). At any rate, I feel this at the very least is a must see because it's one I also remember from my younger days, similar to that of Flash Gordon, that's just burned into my eternal memory. Great job!
post #3 of 14
Wow, can't believe this has made it to Blu-Ray!
post #4 of 14
Originally Posted by JDLIVE View Post

Wow, can't believe this has made it to Blu-Ray!

Even more amazing, Netflix will carry it. eek.gif
post #5 of 14
Thanks for another fine review, Ralph. I can see why you say this is a bad movie; however, for me, it will always be held in high regard. In my opinion, Jane Fonda is nothing short of stunning and voluptuous! biggrin.gif
post #6 of 14
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by freeman4 View Post

In my opinion, Jane Fonda is nothing short of stunning and voluptuous! biggrin.gif


freeman4, if that's the case then you are definitely going to want to add this one to your collection. wink.gif

post #7 of 14
Neat , now we want valley of the Dolls next wink.gif

Awesome review Ralph...

post #8 of 14
Well, I saw "Hanoi Jane" when she was touring our infamous school cafeteria. W/o make up and costume, she was a plain Jane and could have been anybody, but Barbarella and Klute definitely put her on the map. I need to trade up my dvd for this BR.

This is one of those movies w/ such an opening sequence, sort of makes the rest irrelevant.

Thanks, Ralph.
post #9 of 14
A silly movie that grew on me ,too. I still watch it occasionally on laserdisc. Maybe I should go the blu-ray route.smile.gif
post #10 of 14
I meant to ask of Ralph, or anyone that might know, that the review states Barbarella was tracking down Durand-Durand and I wanted to know if this was the actual scripted name? I ask because the pop group, Duran Duran, said long ago that their name came from this movie but obviously the spelling is different.
post #11 of 14
Great review.
I still haven't seen this movie.

post #12 of 14
Who cares if the movie sucks or not,,,,, Fonda was a total babe back in the day which makes this movie well worth watching,,,,, I might or might not turn the volume on.

post #13 of 14
Originally Posted by Ralph Potts View Post

freeman4, if that's the case then you are definitely going to want to add this one to your collection. wink.gif

I fully intend to do just that, good sir! wink.gif
post #14 of 14
The BD cover is not the original artwork. There was no "Queen of the Galaxy" when this was orignally released. However, in the wake of STAR WARS, this film was re-released to theaters with the new artwork and "Queen of the Galaxy" was added to draw in the STAR WARS audience.:

Edited by cinema13 - 7/2/12 at 9:50am
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