The Secret Life of Melanie O.
Friday, July 13, 2007
I can remember the night my parents went to see Barbarella at the cinema. My sister and I sat at home with a babysitter (possibly the guy we used to terrorize) and waited for our parents to come home.

Afterwards, the next day, we asked what the movie was about. They explained it was a funny science fiction movie. They mentioned the biting dolls and space ship and provided a brief plot synopsis. I was all of eight years old, and pronounced afterwards that that didn't sound so bad, so why weren't kids allowed in? Then my father explained about Jane Fonda's nude scene during the credits. I replied with "Oh."

Two years later, at Man and His World in Montréal, in the French Pavilion, I got to see the real biting dolls that were used in the film. I remember the French Pavilion was quite surreal, with moving lips broadcast on monitors throughout the space.

Years after that, when films were finally available to the public, curiosity got the best of me, and I purchased a copy of Barbarella on VHS for myself. I figured that if it was campy, sexy, and funny, then it was the perfect film for me. I was right. Nestled in all of the shag carpet, Perspex scenery and lava lamp effects, was Jane Fonda, looking stunning and soft - the American version of Brigitte Bardot.

Her co-star, John Philip Law, was one of my first ever crushes. I remember seeing him in a TV presentation of The Russians are Coming, the Russians are Coming. I am stunned to find out that he's my mother's age. In my mind, he'll always be Alexei Kolchin, or Pygar the angel.

One year, for Halloween, I suggested that my (then) boyfriend and I attend a Halloween event as Barbarella and Pygar, but I don't think he relished the thought of appearing in public in nothing but a loin cloth and wings. Besides, wings are problematic when you try to go through doorways. We opted for Robin Hood and Marian instead.

Tonight, Dan and I watched Barbarella together for the third or fourth time. Every time we watch it, we get the giggles and notice something new. There's something so seductive about a film that makes no pretenses about what it wants to convey. Watching it, though - I get wistful for an era where people seemed much freer to express themselves sexually in such a fantastical and innocent way. The new films I've seen lately are incredibly violent and depressing in comparison. It's no wonder I have to retreat every now and then to the innocent sexuality of the past where I can imagine what it's like to have a smoke of Essence of Man.

Most likely Jane Fonda cringes when she thinks of this film, but I hope she realises how many people actually adore it for all of the things that are "bad" about it. One visit to will provide witness its endurance. It's held out so well over the years, that's it's being re-made. I don't know how it will compare to the original, though. Things have changed a lot since 1968.

If I can lose a few pounds, I may still dress up as Barbarella one year for Halloween. Dan would like that - although I think he'd be dressing as Duran Duran. The scientist, not the 80's pop group.

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posted by Melanie O. at 11:16 PM -
  • At 8:01 PM, Blogger gardenbug said…

    I remember Barbarella and enjoyed it very much. It was campy and creatively wierd.

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About Me
Name: Melanie O.
Home: Durham, North Carolina, United States
About Me: Female, American health and beauty-conscious professional who has rekindled a childhood love of dolls.
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