A good decade before Ripley and fifteen years before Sarah Connor, Barbarella became Hollywood’s original female sci-fi heroine. Based on comics created by French artist Kean-Claude Forest, and played by 1960s sex symbol Jane Fonda, Barbarella was embraced by a cult audience because of her sexuality. In a time when male sci-fi heroes were the ones acting as the seducers, Barbarella was Captain Kirk with an hourglass figure and ray gun.
Producer Dino De Laurentiis filmed Barbarella back-to-back with another picture based on a comic, Danger: Diabolik, looking to save on costs.Ten years after the movie’s release De Laurentiis commissioned the well-respected fantasy artist Boris Vallejo to paint the Barbarella movie poster for its’ second theatrical run.
Vallejo’s realistic style of fantasy art was perfect to entrance the interest of the public. His likeness of Jane Fonda was very accurate, and the otherworldly space background told you that this was going to be a different kind of movie than one might expect.
The Barbarella Movie Poster
Released theatrically in 1968, Barbarella stars Jane Fonda as an intergalactic adventurer. It was directed by Roger Vadim and produced by Dino De Laurentiis. Filming took place in France and Italy. The film was modestly popular when it was released, becoming the second-highest grossing picture of the year in England. Undoubtedly the curvaceous presence of Jane Fonda contributed to the interest in the film, as well as the psychedelic set designs.
It may surprise you to learn that the famous Vallejo’s poster art was not used in the 1968 release of Barbarella. Instead, Boris’ artwork was commissioned for the 1978 re-release of the movie. This became the defacto piece of publicity for the movie, appearing on VHS box covers at the dawn of the videocassette era. It served as the first impression to many of the campy but sensual universe Barbarella inhabits.
Vallejo’s Original Barbarella Artwork
Alternate Barbarella Movie Posters
Publicity Photos of Jane Fonda as Barbarella
To build on the publicity for his film, director Roger Vadim photographed a series of publicity shots of Jane Fonda in her various Barbarella movie costumes. Not only did the photos make the rounds in magazines around the world, Life magazine even featured Fonda as the space heroine on the cover of their publication.