Barbarella is noted for its title sequence, which features Jane Fonda undressing in zero-gravity. The whole film is played in a tongue-in-cheek manner, especially when it comes to the frequent (but not explicit) sex scenes. The most controversial of those scenes involves Barbarella being tortured by the use of an organ-like instrument that delivers sexual pleasure in doses that can be lethal, although Barbarella survives the ordeal and is visibly disappointed when it is discovered she has overloaded the machine.
The film was simultaneously shot in French and English. Some characters' lines were performed by the same actors in both languages; others were not. For instance, Fonda is fluent in French and performs her own lines for the French version, while Marcel Marceau's lines are dubbed for the English film.
The film was both a box office and critical failure on its release. Variety's review stated that "Despite a certain amount of production dash and polish and a few silly-funny lines of dialogue, Barbarella isn't very much of a film. Based on what has been called an adult comic strip, the Dino De Laurentiis production is flawed with a cast that is not particularly adept at comedy, a flat script, and direction which can't get this beached whale afloat." Despite this, in the years since its initial release, Barbarella has garnered a cult following. It was re-released from 1977-1980 with a PG rating; the re-release found a bigger audience.
A remake of Barbarella has been planned for years, starting soon after plans for a sequel with Fonda fell through in the mid to late 1970s. Original screenplay writer Roger Vadim voiced that he would be open to making a sequel with actresses Sherilyn Fenn and Drew Barrymore as the title role, yet nothing came of it.
- Jane Fonda as Barbarella
- John Phillip Law as Pygar, the angel
- Anita Pallenberg as The Great Tyrant, Black Queen of Sogo
- Milo O'Shea as Doctor Durand Durand
- Marcel Marceau as Professor Ping
- David Hemmings as Dildano
- Claude Dauphin as President Dianthus of Earth
- Ugo Tognazzi as Mark Hand