Barbarella (1968)

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Released 6-Jul-2001

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Theatrical Trailer
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 1968
Running Time 94:00
RSDL / Flipper RSDL (57:52) Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Programme
Region Coding 4 Directed By Roger Vadim
Studio
Distributor

Paramount Home Entertainment
Starring Jane Fonda
John Phillip Law
Marcel Marceau
David Hemmings
Ugo Tognazzi
Case Amaray-Transparent
RPI $39.95 Music Bob Crewe
Charles Fox


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None German Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0 mono (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
English for the Hearing Impaired
German
Swedish
Danish
Norwegian
Finnish
Dutch
Portuguese
Turkish
Spanish
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Barbarella began as a French comic book. It was the adventures of a female astronaut (well, astral navigatrix) with a tendency to get her clothes shredded, revealing her curvy body.

     Back when this film was made, Jane Fonda was not the woman we know now. This was before the political activism, before the marriage to Ted Turner, and before the aerobics tapes. When this film was made, she was an attractive woman (Ed. she still is an attractive woman) who was not afraid to take her clothes off. And that's exactly what she does during the opening titles. I'm not sure if this is the only strip-tease in zero-gravity sequence ever filmed, but there can't be many. 

    During this film, she loses several outfits to various perils - they get shredded by killer dolls, and berserk budgies, amongst others. Fortunately there's always another skimpy skin-tight outfit for her to wear. Peril isn't the only reason she loses her clothes, either. She is shocked the first time one of her rescuers wants to make love to her "the old-fashioned way", but she seems to like it. She appears to have a considerable sexual appetite, too - she even seduces an angel. Jane Fonda is the perfect actress for this role - she exudes a mixture of naiveté and enthusiasm. In her own way, Barbarella is like Sean Connery's James Bond - muddling through her mission, and sleeping with several of the opposite sex on the way.

    Don't get the wrong impression, though. Apart from the opening titles, and shortly thereafter, we don't see that much of her body. There are no lovemaking scenes - we see her before and after. Even when she is subjected to the infernal machine that is supposed to induce death by sexual ecstasy we see only her head and the tops of her shoulders.

    The special effects are pretty awful - this film was made in the 60s, after all. It is part of the charm of the movie, in a way. I doubt you could make this movie today - it requires corny special effects to "work". Her bright pink spaceship, with its shag pile carpet interior, is part of the image, too.

    Some of the names in the movie have since been used for other things. The liquid monster is called the Mathmos, and that is now the brand name of a lava lamp. Barbarella has been sent in search of a scientist called Duran Duran - I'm assuming this is the source of the name of the pop group.

     All up, this is a light-hearted movie that I'm very glad to see come to DVD. 

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Transfer Quality

Video

    This movie was made in 1968. That makes it 33 years old. Considering that, the video transfer is amazingly good.

    The movie is presented in an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, and is 16x9 enhanced. As far as I can tell, that is the original aspect ratio.

    The sharpness of interior scenes is very good indeed, but exteriors seem a bit soft - this may, in part, be attributable to the source material. Shadow detail is good. There seems to be little (if any) low-level noise

    Colours look good - Jane Fonda's eyes are unbelievably blue in close-up. There are no deeply saturated reds to be seen, but the pink of her spaceship shows up well. 1960s film stocks usually look a bit washed-out - this looks better than most. The opening titles have some very hot whites in them, but that appears to be deliberate - the titles look over-exposed to cover parts of Jane Fonda's body. There's a scene at 9:21 where the colour changes for a moment, but that scene looks the same in the Region 1 disc - I suspect it is inherent in the source material.

    Film artefacts are numerous, and varied - we get white flecks, black flecks, hairs, even one frame (10:06) with what looks like two pins in the centre of the image. Given the age of the film, and the clear signs that very little restoration work has been done, this is to be expected.

    I saw little aliasing, and no MPEG artefacts - looks like they put some effort into encoding this film carefully.

    The disc is RSDL-formatted, with the layer change at 57:52 - it is quite obvious, unfortunately.



Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    There are three soundtracks on this disc; English, German, and Spanish. All of them are in Dolby Digital 2.0 mono. I listened to the English soundtrack.

    Dialogue is clear and easy to understand most of the time, although one or two phrases slip by. There are a couple of obvious failures in ADR, with the worst showing very early, as Jane Fonda asks her spaceship to wake her before they arrive at Tau Ceti - her voice and lips are completely unsynchronised - I blame the source material. 

    The score, by Bob Crewe and Charles Fox, is well-suited to the movie - it has a 60s sound.

    This is definitely a mono soundtrack - no surrounds, no subwoofer, not even left and right. This kind of movie is not the reason you invested in all those extra speakers...



Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Menu

    The menu is static and silent.

Trailer (3:08)

    This trailer is a bit louder than it ought to be, and is not presented in the correct aspect ratio.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The only differences between the Region 4 and Region 1 discs is the mix of languages - R1 gets French and English instead of German, Spanish, and English. The artwork on the covers and labels is nearly identical. The trailer on the R1 is in the correct aspect ratio, and has fewer artefacts and better sound. 

    The Region 1 video is slightly sharper, has slightly fewer film artefacts (no pins!), but is visibly lower in resolution - the NTSC vs PAL difference is quite visible.

    It's a tough call, but I'd suggest that our disc is very slightly better.

Summary

    Barbarella is a charming film, looking pretty good for its age.

    The video is not bad at all.

    The audio is adequate.

    The extras are minimal.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Tony Rogers (bio-degrading: making a fool of oneself in a bio...)
Monday, July 23, 2001
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-737, using Component output
DisplaySony VPH-G70 CRT Projector, QuadScan Elite scaler (Tripler), ScreenTechnics 110. Calibrated with Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Video Essentials.
AmplificationDenon AVC-A1SE
SpeakersFront Left and Right: Krix Euphonix, Centre: Krix KDX-C Rears: Krix KDX-M, Subwoofer: Krix Seismix 5

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