Nicolas Winding Refn Discusses ‘Barbarella’ TV Series

Published 2 years ago by

nicolas winding refn directing ryan gosling in drive Nicolas Winding Refn Discusses Barbarella TV Series

Director Nicolas Winding Refn’s Drive was a runaway critical success – and one of our favorite films of 2011 – but so far, it’s proving a tough act to follow, at least for the crowds at this year’s Cannes Film Festival. His follow-up, the Thai boxing crime thriller Only God Forgivespremiered to a scattering of boos in the audience. Early reviews suggest that the film is off-puttingly violent, but any film which is called “bloated, corpulent and borderline repulsive” yet also “magnificent” in the same review clearly needs to be judged individually.

Given Refn’s attitude toward the films he makes – they are often idiosyncratic, occasionally slow and punctuated with scenes of brutal violence – we look forward to one particular project he has in the works: a TV series reboot of the 1968 film Barbarella starring Jane Fonda.

Based on a series of French comics by Jean-Claude Forest, Barbarella was directed by Roger Vadim (Fonda’s then-husband) and followed the sexy adventures of the title character, a bounty hunter tasked by the President of Earth (now a peaceful, violence-free planet) with tracking down Doctor Durand Durand, who has built a deadly Positronic Ray.

When asked about the project’s status – courtesy of Vulture – Refn said:

“We are just writing it still. I kind of went back to the original comic, and really began to close my eyes and fantasize about women in outer space and it looked pretty good.”

As for who he might cast in the title role: “No, I haven’t started casting yet.” Jane Fonda’s original performance cemented her status as a sex symbol for that generation – the original film’s opening credit sequence featuring a slow motion, zero gravity striptease might have had something to do with that.

 Nicolas Winding Refn Discusses Barbarella TV Series

The first reports that Nicolas Refn was involved in this project surfaced about a year ago, around the same time we learned he would be interested in making a Wonder Woman film starring Christina Hendricks. Since then, we learned that he has left the big screen remake of The Equalizer starring Denzel Washington, which is moving forward with Training Day director Antoine Fuqua at the helm.

Refn’s comment on fantasizing about women in outer space is… interesting, and perhaps a bit troubling, given that later in the same interview he discusses wanting to make an all-female horror film (he has a two-picture deal which includes Only God Forgives, so it might actually happen). Why only women? “Because women and horror is so sexy.” An all-women horror film has worked before – in The Descent, for instance, although that film was pretty far from sexy.

That said, the notion of an extreme stylist like Refn bringing his unique spin to something like Barbarella is very exciting. Considered the first mainstream “adult comic,” the character became a symbol of the coming sexual revolution, and the film remains a cult classic to this day. The future of the project may depend to some degree on the success of Only God Forgives once it gets a wide release.  Either way, stay tuned for more as details surface.


Source: Vulture

Follow Anthony Vieira on Twitter @malaclyptic
TAGS: Barbarella
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  1. “Because women and horror is so sexy.”

    I would rather not hear Refn’s explanation for such a statement.
    He speaks as if expressing universal truth when it’s peculiarly his own.

    • When I read that line, I couldn’t help but wonder if Refn would remake Nude Nuns With Big Guns.

      • 😀

        • Funny thing is, it’s not that bad a movie. It’s one of those terrible films that’s obviously extremely low budget and for some reason, the nuns are working in a drug lab in the church (usually naked and of all ages and sizes so not the young, slim women you’d expect of these kinds of movies) but as a schlocky revenge flick, it’s entertaining.

          Haven’t seen Drive but I have seen Bronson and if Refn brings that use of browns and reds as well as his unusual visual style to something remniniscent of Nude Nuns With Big Guns then it should be fun at least.

          Either that or something like John Carpenter’s The Ward which was also an all female horror movie that worked better than I expected it to. Got silly in parts but it was definitely a better movie than some of the big mainstream horror releases that aim at teen audiences.

          • I had never heard of Nude Nuns With Big Guns 😀
            I have seen Drive and I do love it. Refn has talent.

            • I hadn’t either, just got bored one night, checked the movie channels and saw it on The Horror Channel.

              I discovered Dead Snow the same way actually as well as a little known British film called The Last Horror Movie. Amazing what you discover that you didn’t know before, like the cinematographer Wally Pfister (known lately for his work on Chris Nolan’s movies and named as one of Hollywood’s greatest working today) got his start working on low budget softcore pornography movies.

              Or the looks on people’s faces when I tell them that Peter Jackson started out making what were deemed “video nasties” and subsequently banned in Britain for years (alongside The Evil Dead) for “outraging public decency” in their depiction of violence.

              Maybe Refn’s work will reflect that shift into more mainstream fare over time?

              • I think Refn sees himself as cutting edge auteur
                where shock can be a way to lead the audience.

                I wonder about his moral compass which I sense
                is extremely relative and relative to himself alone.

                Whether he can learn the distinction between
                pushing the envelop and going off the rails will be
                the deciding factor as to whether he can go mainstream.

                • This is true.

                  I’ve already given up on Eli Roth for the same reasons. Everything he’s created seems to be extreme violence for the sake of it with no plot or point to it all.

    • Yeah ok, just keep that to yourself as well Robert Palmar.

      • I’ll say whatever I please, thank you, David.
        I do not give a damn if it doesn’t please you.

    • Umm, that’s called an “opinion”

  2. tig bitties IIIIINN SPAAAACCCEEEE. :) sorry couldn’t resist

    • Is that the next Muppets movie?

  3. I also have to ask.

    Since Duran Duran named themselves after the Barbarella character, anyone else think one of their songs will be heard on a radio in an ironic way if this project goes through?

    Similar to a sketch show in the 90s that parodied Planet Of The Apes by playing “Planet Earth” by the band while the astronaut was wondering where he was and wandering around confused.

  4. Barbarella!! So sleazy, so stupid, so sexy, all at the same time. I always feel dirty after watching it. The only thing I learn from watching Barbarella is how hot Jane Fonda was/is. Plus Keith Richards’ ex is hot in it too. Anita Pallenberg with the rhino horn.

    Italian production? What a surprise.

  5. NOTE: Wonder Woman is sexy but not porno.

    Barbarella is a comic-book character poorly produced as a live-action film back-in-the-day that should have remained a comic-book character. Jane Fonda is cute in the role, but director Roger Vadim (like Nicolas Winding Refn) only interest in the character is sex. This is fine as far as it goes, but it doesn’t go very far given the running time of a feature-length motion picture.

    Like Vadim, what Refn really wants here is to do an adult sex film featuring a female protagonist –something actually NC-17 but given an R-rating.

    • I suppose he could do that with Joanie Laurer/Chyna as the star since she played She-Hulk in porn parodies of The Avengers. As long as it got a very limited release and quickly disappeared off the radar without trace with only a handful knowing of its existence.

  6. If it sucks bad enough get Gail Simone to write the show scripts

  7. Malin Akerman for Barbarella!