The Implications of Barbarella Coming To TV


Nicolas Winding Refn to direct Barbarella as a TV Show?

You may have heard the news – but what does it all mean?

If you’re like me, and you loved Drive, and you know that Ryan Gosling and director Nicolas Winding Refn have just finished shooting Only God Forgives in Thailand, then you would have been looking forward to seeing them team up together for the long-promised Logan’s Run remake, which seen through Refn’s eyes, would have been spectacular.

Now – all that’s gone to hell in a hand basket with the news announced today that Refn is going to be one of the driving forces of a Barbarella TV show.

B. See A.

I don’t know how and why people would try to make a TV series based on a character that was actually toned down for the 1968 Roger Vadim film. The end result, was frankly, out of its mind, and best enjoyed whilst tripping off your tits. Nudity, random sex, and bizarre bondage torture – its all par for the course for a film that gave the band Duran Duran its name, and featured a lesbian queen with a horn growing out of her head.

The original Barbarella 1962 comic books are even saucier. You want to add an iconoclastic director like Refn to the mix? I say – great! fantastic! as a fan. Of a movie. As a TV show? How is that going to work?

If you’ve seen the carnage of ‘difficult’ (read ‘interesting’) TV shows littering the highway of recent cancellation, then the idea of a Barbarella TV show sounds like televisual suicide.

Unless of course, Refn is toned down to fit a certain criteria that fits ratings ‘expectations’, like when he worked on a Miss Marple episode (oh yes he did). Which defeats the purpose of having him on board in the first place. There’s no point in not having Pusher-style awesomeness if you’re having Refn on board.



If you’ve seen the Pusher trilogy, Valhalla Rising and Drive – ‘Barbarella by Refn‘ sounds like it’s going to be a tornado of sexy violence and violent sexiness. Which is great for fans, but a nightmare for TV ratings.

The quotes attributed to Refn that went with the announcement today about Barbarella – “one of the ultimate counter-cultural characters” and “I look forward to bringing this unique character to life for a new generation of fans.” could point to a re-invention of the character, but staying true to the original Barbarella point of view – one that thumbed its nose at conventional mores – particularly about sex.
The TV series is being brought to the small screen by Gaumont International Television, which is the Los Angeles based arm of French studio, Gaumont, who are currently producing Only God Forgives. GIT are producing the TV series Hannibal, with Mads Mikkelsen, and Hemlock Grove, from Eli Roth, starring Famke Janssen.

Hopefully they’re producing Barbarella for primarily a European audience, and thus it won’t be a pussied-up, washed-down waste of time. That said – the success of the Canadian Lost Girl proves that audiences in the United States, the crucial factor in whether a show lives or dies internationally, don’t mind a bit of sauce when it comes to fantasy. Perhaps it’ll work in a far out and groovy Sci Fi future.

Fingers crossed. If the result is good TV, I’m all for it. However it gets done.

If they do a great job, thumbs up, but the horrific possibility is that Logan’s Run has been asked to ride the carousel (i.e. get buried in the back yard with all the hopes and dreams of a generation wanting to see a remake that isn’t a pale ghost of the original).

Which will be the most of horrific of shames if Barbarella turns out to be VIP in space. But we can only hope that’s the case.

The question then, of course, is who could possibly play Barbarella?

Cobie Smulders? Christina Hendricks? Morena Baccarin? Laura Vandervoort? An unknown?

Suggestions welcome.

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