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Barbarella, the queen of cult sci-fi, is reborn for the 21st century


It starred Jane Fonda as a 41st-century astronaut who performed an gravity-defying striptease and quickly became a cult classic marking the height of 1960s psychedelia.

Now, Barbarella, the kitsch 1968 sci-fi film in which Fonda played an inter-galactic sex kitten who sets out to find the evil Duran Duran in space, will be remade by the director Robert Rodriguez.

Speaking in Cannes, Rodriguez, who co-directed the 2005 box office hit Sin City and collaborated with Quentin Tarantino on the horror movie double-bill Grindhouse, said he was excited by the prospect of the remake. "The possibilities are limitless. I love this iconic character and all that she represents," he said.

The film's original producer, Dino De Laurentiis, will be in charge of the remake, which is due to be released by Universal next year. The actress playing the lead part has not yet been named. De Laurentiis, who was also involved in the 1980 sci-fi filmFlash Gordon, said in a statement: "Barbarella is the ultimate science-fiction adventure heroine - smart, strong and sexy. In our vision, the future is female, and I can't wait to introduce Barbarella to a new generation of moviegoers."

Neal Purvis and Robert Wade, who co-wrote the screenplay for the latest James Bond film, Casino Royale, will work on the script.

In spite of the cult status which transformed Fonda into a universal sex symbol, Barbarella was a box-office flop. It was directed by Roger Vadim, her husband at the time, and caused a sensation with the opening scene, in which Fonda undresses in zero gravity.

The singer Kylie Minogue recreated the sequence in the video for her 1994 single, "Put Yourself In My Place". The British pop group, Duran Duran, also named themselves after the evil character in the film. The pop star Prince also said he was inspired by the film. His song "Endorphin Machine" from The Gold Experience album relates to the sexual torture machine which Duran Duran uses on Barbarella.

Barbarella first appeared in a French graphic magazine written and illustrated by Jean-Claude Forest in 1962. De Laurentiis secured the rights to the cartoon creation from Jean-Claude's son, Julien.The deal will also see the first two Barbarella books reissued, along with the publication of material previously unreleased in English.

The film, which was regarded as sci-fi "erotica" at the time it was released, was acted in a kitch, tongue-in-cheek manner especially the frequent, albeit non-explicit sex scenes.

To today's viewers, the film's special effects can appear crude and unconvincing but they were ambitious by the standards of the day. The psychedelic "blob" patterns that form much of the special effects in the original are created using an oil wheel projector, a popular visual effects device used in many other films of the same era.

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The film was simultaneously shot in French and English, with Fonda delivering her lines in both languages.

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