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  • Writer's pictureKatie M

The Moving Moments of Barbie

Greta Gerwig’s highly anticipated movie Barbie is now out, and it’s arguably the biggest film of 2023. Most people who’ve watched it understand why. There are many emotional layers and incredible craftsmanship to this film.

Barbie has beautiful visual storytelling throughout the movie, with incredible practical set pieces used to create a real working Barbie Land. One of my favourite scenes visually is the well-advertised party scene. Margot Robbie is decked out in a dazzling outfit and has incredibly perfect makeup and hair. The dream houses are covered in disco lights and streamers, and the camera work highlights the fun choreography.

Kingsley Ben-Adir, Ryan Gosling, Margot Robbie, Simu Liu and Ncuti Gatwa dancing together in Barbie
Kingsley Ben-Adir, Ryan Gosling, Margot Robbie, Simu Liu and Ncuti Gatwa in Barbie

Some of the more emotional moments in the film feature beautiful cinematography, including a scene where Barbie meets her creator for the same time. Margot herself pointed out how their hands accidentally touch like the Michelangelo piece 'The Creation of Adam'. Also featuring the creator, this is the scene where Barbie realises that she’s human for the first time, and the crisp white background begins to turn a comforting yellow around her.

The whole movie seems to be an allegory for growing up; Barbie feels an influx of negative emotions; feeling like she’s not enough, powerless and realising how rigged the system is. She begins feeling anxiety when she’s surrounded by men, and immediately experiences harassment before she even understands what’s going on.

Ryan Gosling as Ken in the Barbie movie looking confrontational.
Ryan Gosling as Ken

Ken is shown that the only way to gain respect is to overpower others and gain material successes like cars and relationships just to feel seen. The movie draws blatant comparisons of patriarchy in the real world, made much more obvious by reversing those roles and displaying a female-run society.

Barbie herself highlights the beauty of human life and emotions, shown as she witnesses the world for the first time. The scene where Barbie watches the people around her, taking in all of the good and the bad in the world for the first time made me even more emotional on my second watch. She sees some people arguing, some laughing and some crying as she begins to feel it all herself, and it was one of the most moving moments in the film.

When Barbie finally chooses to live and find her purpose, we see a sweet montage of the real film crew’s home videos shown as a vision to Barbie to highlight some of the best parts of living.

Margot Robbie as Barbie before she begins crying.
Margot Robbie as Barbie

Another central theme is the relationships between mothers and daughters. Mothers often prioritise everyone else’s wants and needs over their own to make things better for their children, and their daughters only begin to really understand this as they experience it themselves. The creator herself admits that Barbie was made for her daughter Barbara, and that she wanted the best for both of her creations. Gloria’s character reminds us how thin the line between childhood and adult dreams actually are.

Greta Gerwig did an incredible amount of research into the franchise, including comedic use of discontinued dolls, most notably Allan who is the hidden gem of the film. Barbie’s inventor plays a vital role in the film, which I wasn’t expecting at all.

America Ferrera, Ariana Greenblatt , Margot Robbie in Barbie riding in a car, all smiling
America Ferrera, Ariana Greenblatt , Margot Robbie in Barbie

All of this is complimented by well-timed comedy, vibrant visuals and a handful of camp musical numbers. People were intrigued when the news broke that soon Greta Gerwig’s name would come attached with the Barbie IP. The behind-the-scenes sneak peaks looked promising. Now that the movie is out, it’s easy to see that the anticipation and now success is completely deserved.

This movie isn’t just for girls. The theatres I went to were packed with men, women, children and older people. Over two cinema visits I went with a range of people of different ages, genders and sexualities - everyone left the movie feeling not only seen, but excited to watch it again.

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