Barbarella (US Import)

Jane Fonda's sexy space siren scrubs up extremely well in high-definition

Roger Vadim’s 1968 star vehicle for then wife Jane Fonda is an extremely odd movie. Based on a French comic book series, Barbarella wastes no time on such niceties as plot or characterisation. Instead, it’s all about a sultry babe playing dress-up and having a series of erotic encounters in outer space. It should, therefore, be absolute rubbish, but the tongue-in-cheek nature of the whole endeavour, coupled with Fonda’s brilliant central performance, lifts Barbarella to a higher plateau. Not necessarily a ‘good’ film in the traditional sense, but still a lot of fun.

Picture: Lightweight in plotting it may be, but Barbarella is a true heavyweight in terms of art design. And, even if few of the aesthetic decisions make any sense, you can still see their influence on furniture and fashion in expensive boutique shops throughout the world.

Given the above, there was an awful lot riding on how the film would look on Blu-ray. The answer is that the film’s AVC 2.40:1 1080p encode, like Barbarella herself, is an absolute stunner. Colours are richly saturated, textures are intricately detailed and fine grain is accurately rendered. All told, with the exception of a few speckles here and there and some soft optical shots, it looks like it could have been filmed last year. Exceptional.
Picture rating: 5/5

Audio: Rather than waste time cooking up a new-fangled surround sound mix, Paramount has instead taken the decision to simply make the most of Barbarella’s original acoustic charms for this Blu-ray release. As such, the only soundtrack on offer is a Dolby TrueHD 2.0 presentation of the original mono mix.

And you know what? It actually sounds rather good. The audio is clean and precise (with no annoying pops or hiss to be heard), dialogue sounds natural and the groovy score exhibits plenty of range. A satisfying presentation for a film of this vintage, but unlikely to trouble your AVR.
Audio Rating: 4/5

Extras: Sadly, this is where things start to go a bit wonky. As with all of the movie’s previous DVD incarnations, Barbarella’s Blu-ray debut is devoid of any extras beyond the film’s theatrical trailer (albeit here presented in 1080p). That’s a real shame, as surely somebody involved in the film’s production (or even a genre historian) would have interesting things to say about the movie if anybody could be bothered to talk to them.

The only other item of note is the packaging, with this US release boasting a gorgeous gatefold slipcase that showcases the movie’s stunning poster art.
Extras rating: 1/5

We say: A sultry high-definition release spoiled only by a lack of extra features

Paramount, All-region BD (US Import), £18 Approx (, On sale now