Thursday, 30 August 2012

Inception, by Christopher Nolan (2010) and Barbarella 3, by Jean-Claude Forest (1977)

To most, if not all, English-speaking people, the name Barbarella will evoke nothing but a science-fiction movie, starring Jane Fonda (not always with a lot of clothes on…). But, at least for some French-speaking comics addicts, Barbarella is, first and foremost, a fantastic 4-volume comics saga, by the great Jean-Claude Forest. In my humble opinion, Barbarella is much better than You are there, probably the only book written by Jean-Claude Forest (but drawn by Jacques Tardi) now available in English (it was published by Fantagraphics in 2009). Barbarella is a science-fiction saga, whose heroine wanders through the galaxy in her spaceship, without fear and with a lot of curiosity. She encounters many incredible living beings, fantastic and poetic. When the first book was published, in 1964, it created some scandal and was banned by censorship because it was considered as very erotic; times have changed and the sexual component of these four books is much less shocking than nearly 50 years ago...

Some time ago, I read again these comic books. When reading the third one, Le Semble-Lune, initially published in 1977 (and translated by Heavy Metal as Barbarella and The Moon Child the year after), I was very surprised to discover that the plot was very similar to that of a movie I had seen a few weeks before… Inception, by Christopher Nolan.

What is Le Semble-Lune about? Barbarella gets a mission of a very special kind: she has to introduce herself in a certain man’s dreams to steal him a secret… Which is more or less the central concept of the whole Inception concept. And that is not all: Barbarella spends some time living with the man she loves in the world of dreams. She does not want to go back to the real world any longer. She goes alone in an isolated place, where the sea is very present and where her lover comes to find her back. Both of them go always further down into multi-layered dreams; they even venture to the last layer of dream, just before the great unknown (a kind of Limbo), from where nobody ever came back. And a part of the story is about a child... I cannot help estimating that the similarities between both stories are very impressive...

Could it be only some kind of coincidences? Or some clichés that it is possible to discover in many different science-fiction stories? Or could there be a real influence of Barbarella on Inception, in a direct or an indirect way? I am not completely sure. But if any of you has some idea about these surprising similarities, please let me know…

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