Barbarella 4K Ultra HD

Featured In Issue 271, January/February 2024

WSR Score3.5
Basic Information on new release titles is posted as soon as titles are announced. Once reviewed, additional data is added to the database.
Arrow Video
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Not Rated
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Single Side, Dual Layer (BD-100)
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Roger Vadim
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Dolby Atmos, Dolby TrueHD 7.1
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'Barbarella" is set in the year 40,000 AD. When evil scientist Durand Durand (Milo O'Shea) creates a deadly weapon with the potential to cause mass devastation, the President of Earth dispatches Barbarella (Jane Fonda) to hunt him down. Crash-landing in an icy wilderness somewhere within the Tau Ceti planetary system, Barbarella is rescued by Mark Hand (Ligo Tognazzi) and guided by the blind angel Pygar (John Phillip Law) to Durand's lair in Sogo, a city of corruption and debauchery, where an encounter with the Great Tyrant Black Queen (Anita Pallenberg) and her minions throws her mission into jeopardy. (Gary Reber)

Special features on the 4K Ultra HD disc include commentary by film critic Tim Lucas; and alternative opening and closing credits and isolated score. On the Blu-ray Disc are eight featurettes: "Barbarella Forever!" (SD 14:54); "Dress To Kill" (SD 31:30); "Framing For Claude" (SD 17:12); "Dino And Barbarella" (HD 14:27), "An Angel's Body Double" (SD 24:26), "Tognazzi On Tognazzi" (SD 21:56), "Another Girl, Another Panet" (SD 23:03) and "Love: Tim Lucas And Steve Bissette On Barbarella" (SD 53:20); the original lossless English mono audio, plus remixed Dolby Atmos track and lossless French mono track featuring the voice of Jane Fonda; double-sided fold-out poster; six double-sided collector's postcards; illustrated collector's booklet; reversible sleeve featuring original and newly commissioned artwork by Tula Lotay; U.S. TV and radio spots and imagery gallery.

The 2.35:1 2160p HEVC/H.265 4K Ultra HD Dolby Vision/HDR10 picture, reviewed on a VIZIO Quantum X P85QX-JI UHD/HDR display, was photographed on film stock in anamorphic Panavision® and sourced from a new 4K Digital Intermediate restoration from the original negative. According to Arrow Films, the original 35mm camera negative was scanned in 4K 16 bit at Fotokem, Burbank. Sections of an original 35mm interpositive were also scanned in 4K 16 bit to replace sections in poor condition on the original negative. The film was restored and graded in 4K SDR, HDR10 and Dolby Vision by Silver Salt Restoration, London.

The picture exhibits strong film grain but it is generally not distracting. The studio sound stage settings are crafted in highly saturated colors. Hues pop with warmth and richness. Primaries are strong. The color palette exhibits a wide color gamut with nuanced hues. Flesh tones appear natural, especially Barbarella's. HDR contrast exhibits solid inky blacks, good shadow delineation and illuminated white levels. Resolution is generally good though grain is prevalent and masks fine detail. Still the imagery is sharp and clear with excellent image depth. As for detail, typically seen on textures on costumes and Pygar's wings. This is a colorful fantasy with dream-based set designs that are compelling. This is a really unique looking classic beautifully restored in all its wonderful color. (Gary Reber)

The repurposed Dolby Atmos/Dolby TrueHD 7.1-channel soundtrack from the original monaural sound elements has an ear-level monaural element enhanced with four height layer channels and a .1 LFE channel. There is the occasional use of the two side and back surrounds, such as the birdcage segment, but are sporadic in the presentation. The dialogue is often ADR or soundstage captured with a pretty unnatural integration. Atmospherics are essentially absent though sound effects pop occasionally. Foley sound effects sound well synced. The orchestra score extends aggressively across the soundstage wide and deep with a lively presence.

The Immersive Sound element is treated with an aggressive extension of the orchestral score, which is quite active and provides a good sense spatially. Additionally there is some dialogue and screams that jump out and fantasy sound effects such as ray explosions and birds in a cage, as well as occasional Foley. The treatment is actually quite good as a height layer.

This is a quite lively soundtrack with unusual tracking but generally good fidelity for its age. Barbarella fans will no doubt be trilled with this presentation. (Gary Reber)