One of the unique aspects of Barbarella is that it was completely shot on soundstages, requiring either sets or miniatures to be built for every shot in the film.
This is a look at the sets, visualised for the far future, but obviously influenced by the latest fashions and materials of the late 1960s. Production Design is credited to Mario Garbuglia, though comic strip creator Jean-Claude Forest oversaw the look, adding touches from his imagined world of the Barbarella comic strips. Like the costumes, the Italian handmade props and sets are unique, imaginatively designed and beautifully made.
Here's an attempt to show every set that appears in the film, in the order they appear, with a mix of publicity stills, screengrabs and lobby cards...
The interior of Barbarella's spaceship is first seen as she loses her spacesuit. But initially we're seeing a section of the cockpit set which was rebuilt on its side, so that the camera could look down at Jane Fonda rolling around on a huge sheet of glass, to fake her weightlessness in space.
The 'floor' of the set behind/below her includes the ship's computer - when 'Alphie' wakes up, its tiles constantly flip.
Two versions of the scene with the statue communicator. The crescent moon extends to activate the double-sided two-way vidscreen with which Barbarella talks to the Earth President.
The walls of the cockpit are famously covered in what looks like shag pile carpet, probably fake fur.
The Alpha 7 cockpit is a keyboard in front of the large exterior window. The pilot sits in the sunken bed behind the controls.
The statue/communicator, the computer and the plexi-domed weapons-teleporter are the only moving props.
Later on, for one of her many costume changes, Barbarella uses a walk-in wardrobe behind a hidden door in the wall of her cockpit.
Barbarella crashlands in the middle of an ice sheet. A large flat set covered with dry ice and fake snow. Around the edge of the set are forced perspective, transparent mountains. Scattered across the set are crashed spaceships including Alpha 1, Durand Durand's ship.
Inside the wreck of Alpha 1 are the outcast children and their killer dolls.
Mark Hand's sailship is a full scale prop. The transparent fan at the back rises up to fill the long, conical sails.
The sailship's prow is almost transparent, but how does Mark Hand know where he's going?
Alpha 7 crashes (again) into the Labyrinth. A full scale section of Alpha 7 is again seen as she falls down a rockslide where Pygar then discovers her.
The Labyrinth set is a maze of rock corridors, many with actors built into the walls.
The set leads up to a model of the city of Sogo, linked by gradually forced-perspective. Sogo appears to be a multi-levelled city on stilts, with transparent walls. Not quite sure where the Mathmos is supposed to live!
The nest is a huge bowl of sticks (big enough for two) sat on top of one of the Labyrinth walls, filled with feathers and dried grass.
Sogo - City of Night
Pygar lands in Sogo in this asymmetrical glass corridor.
The corridor leads onto this multi-level street, with various living quarters (or are they shops?) on both sides.
The streets of Sogo are fairly dangerous for the blind, considering the total lack of railings. Note also the dead body, bottom left.
Two randy ruffians emerge through a tilting window and drag Barbarella into a basement filled with large transparent pillows, where she meets the One-Eyed Wench.
We've already seen blue rabbits inside Alpha 1, but this detail from the Sogo street offers us purple goats and a caged anteater, none of which I've spotted in the finished film.
This platform at the end of the street. Note the mouth of transparent travel tube at the right.
The tubed back wall of this set also appears in publicity photos.
Chamber of Ultimate Solution
Pygar and Barbarella escape into a cave-like room.
Inside are three exits and transparent floor, with something alive and bubbling underneath. Top left is the strange writing which Pygar reads like braille.
On the other side, the Concierge escorts Barbarella to a travel tube - note his black segmented cummerbund and the leather guards' 'whip hands'.
Throne Room of the Black Queen
Down a travel tube, Barbarella meets the evil twins again, in a casino.
The segmented backdrop to this set is re-used in several scenes around the palace. It first appears here, as the Queen appears from within a gigantic bursting balloon.
It's also here that Pygar has been crucified, hung from the ceiling on an abstract cross, back in the casino room. The brown segments, in the central cluster on the wall, look similar to the bedding in Dildano's couch, and the styling of Durand-Durand's positronic chair.
The back of the throne room set is later used for the Black Queen's seduction of Pygar.
"Take her to the birds"
Barbarella is taken to a huge bird-headed birdcage.
She thinks the hundreds of finches and budgerigars are "darling" until discovering that they're carniverous!
Dildano's Secret Headquarters
Dildano's hideout is a mess of travel tubes and malfunctioning equipment. Under the segments of his bed/couch is a secret transmitter.
Barbarella tries to hide in a nightclub. Note that the rooms at the back are full of inflatable pillows and half-naked women. Also, the woman hanging from the ceiling top left, with a group on the floor lighting a fire under her (!) and the man-sized bong on the right.
These backrooms provided many opportunities for publicity photos of nudity, which barely appears in the film.
Barbarella tries 'essence of man', through a pipe hooked up to a huge glass hookah with a man swimming in it (below).
The Excess Machine
The Concierge tortures Barbarella in his Excess Machine. Note the throne room background again and the discarded bodies lying around.
The Chamber of Dreams
The approach to the Queen's Chamber of Dreams is largely a black set with shiny polished floors, weird spiky sculptures and huge lenses swinging from the ceiling.
At the back of the set, psychedelic patterns on the walls either help the Queen sleep, or represent her dreams. (The back wall is actually a front-projection screen. Stanley Kubrick also used this technique in 2001: A Space Odyssey, released the same year).
The Queen's bed is a sculpture of a giant open-armed female figure, the pillow is inside its hollow head.
The control levers to the Mathmos are near the bed.
The Positronic Ray
The positronic ray is controlled from this cool chair!
Some incidental pieces of furniture are copies of body parts, particularly the Queen's bed. Phallic and breast-like motifs are of course abundant, extending even to the vehicles - like the three pulsing knobs of Alpha 7's engines. The breastlike double-cockpits of the guards' airships echo the see-through breast windows in several costumes.
Lastly, there are a few animals around - like goats and rabbits dyed bright colours. I think there's also an owl in there somewhere!