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PHOTO BY MARISSA COURTNEY

Step Into BarbieLand: a Crash Course on the Upcoming Barbie Movie

Entertainment

July 11, 2023

Greta Gerwig's Barbie is one of the summer's most anticipated films. For over 60 years, Barbie has shown young girls what a robust and empowering woman looks like. She has demonstrated that being a woman doesn't have to limit your power, and that you can be anything you want to be, from a fashion model to an astronaut and even a race car driver.

With an excellent all-star cast boasting big names like Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling, Issa Rae, and Emma Mackey, the 2023 Barbie movie has children and adults lining up to buy tickets.

What Will The Film Be About?

The movie will follow Barbie and Ken as they leave the malfunctioning BarbieLand and experience the highs and lows of living in the real world. From the looks of the trailer, Barbie will go through an existential crisis and leave BarbieLand to experience the true meaning of life in the real world. Upon entering the real world, Barbie and Ken will discover the truth about their lives as dolls and being an "idea" rather than human.

This film is another rendition of the "fish out of water" trope where characters are placed in environments utterly different than what they're used to. Classic examples of this trope include Enchanted, Pleasantville, and The Little Mermaid. The Barbie movie is like Josie and the Pussycats meets Enchanted meets The Truman Show meets Legally Blonde.

This movie will offer satirical elements and self-awareness while simultaneously tackling sensitive topics. An example of this proves true in the trailer when Barbie steps out of her heels, and almost immediately, her feet go flat (Yes, those were Margot's actual feet). Not only does this set the basis for the plot and how BarbieLand is seemingly falling apart, but it also pokes fun at Mattel's decision to give Barbie flat feet in 2015.

In the trailer, we see Barbie crying after a group of teens tells her they haven't played with Barbie dolls since they were children. Dolls can't cry, so this little detail might hint at a possible storyline of Barbie slowly turning into a human.

Toward the end of the trailer, we hear a voice-over saying, "Humans only have one ending. Ideas live forever." In the next scene, Barbie sits with an older woman on a bench. The creator of Barbie, Ruth Handler, passed away in 2002, so I predict the movie will honor Ruth and the fact that even though Ruth passed away, her idea and creation of Barbie is still thriving.

Who Plays Who?

Since the movie has yet to be released, we won't know exactly who is in the film. However, the Barbie Instagram posted photos showcasing the star-studded cast and who plays who. Margot Robbie herself plays the iconic Barbie alongside Ryan Gosling, who plays the lovable Ken.

Other Kens are played by actors Kingsley Ben-Adir, Scott Evans, Simu Liu, and Ncuti Gatwa. Hari Nef plays Doctor Barbie, and Emma Mackey plays a Barbie with a Nobel Prize in Physics.

Singer and actress, Dua Lipa, plays a mermaid Barbie, Ana Cruz Kayne is Supreme Court Justice Barbie, and Sharon Rooney plays a lawyer Barbie. Issa Rae is the President of BarbieLand, Nicola Coughlan is a diplomat Barbie, Alexandra Shipp portrays a Barbie who's an author, and Ritu Arya plays Pulitzer winner Barbie.

Our final Barbie, played by Kate Mckinnon, is something of child experimentation. She's the Barbie we experimented on as a kid, drawing on her face with broken crayons, cutting her hair with giant scissors, and destroying her clothes. Other characters in BarbieLand include the controversial Midge and Allan, played by Emerald Fennell and Michael Cera.

However, our humans are played by America Ferrera, who plays Gloria, and Ariana Greenblatt as her daughter Sasha. Helen Mirren is the narrator, and Connor Swindells and Jamie Demetriou as Mattel workers. Last but not least, Will Ferrell plays the Mattel CEO.

What will Production Look Back?

One of the most iconic parts of Barbie is her breathtaking dreamhouse. Everyone wanted a Barbie Dreamhouse, whether you had a Barbie or not. Coincidentally, the Barbie Dreamhouse didn't always look like the pink mansion we know and love.

Initially, the house was made of cardboard and only consisted of a bedroom, which contrasted with most dollhouses of that time, which almost always consisted of domestic features such as kitchens to satisfy the "female agenda."

The production team drew inspiration from Barbie's time in the 50s and 60s as well as modern Palm Springs, and all the backdrops were handpainted to highlight the vibrantness of BarbieLand. The production team for the movie even used so much pink paint that it caused a global shortage of a particular shade from the set design company, Rosco.

Nothing about the dreamhouse is practical, but everything about it is nostalgic.

One thing to note about the dreamhouses is that they're all open, with little to no privacy. As children, this made it easier and more effective to play with dolls inside the dreamhouse, and in the film, this highlights the relationship the Barbies have with each other and the "ideal perfectness" of BarbieLand.

Unlike the real world, BarbieLand is utterly perfect. Everyone is kind to each other, and they all treat each other with respect - with the exception of the "Battle of the Kens" - so the openness of the dreamhouses emphasizes the fact that everyone in BarbieLand trusts each other. They never have to worry about any encounters with danger.

Another thing to note is that everything in BarbieLand is plastic or decals to emphasize the artificiality of the "toy world." In an interview with Architectural Digest, director Greta Gerwig, noted that she wanted "everyone to feel like they can reach onto the screen and touch everything." The overall goal for the set was to give viewers nostalgia and to make them feel as if they were once again children in a toy shop.

One element of this is evident in the lack of use of the stairs. In the trailer, Barbie either uses the slide to get downstairs or floats down to level ground. This highlights that, as kids, almost nobody used stairs to move their dolls. Most of the time, Barbie just jumped from floor to floor.

What Songs Will Be In The Barbie Soundtrack?

The official soundtrack will be released alongside the movie on July 21st, but a teaser as to which artists will be featured was posted on the Barbie movie Instagram. On May 25th, Dua Lipa, who plays the mermaid Barbie, released a single called "Dance The Night" as part of the Barbie soundtrack. Karol G released a song called "Watati" featuring Aldo Ranks. On June 23rd, Nicki Minaj and Ice Spice released their new song "Barbie World," sampled from Aqua's 1997 hit "Barbie Girl."

One of the most iconic parts of Barbie is her breathtaking dreamhouse. Everyone wanted a Barbie Dreamhouse, whether you had a Barbie or not. Coincidentally, the Barbie Dreamhouse didn't always look like the pink mansion we know and love. I

nitially, the house was made of cardboard and only consisted of a bedroom, which contrasted with most dollhouses of that time, which almost always consisted of domestic features such as kitchens to satisfy the "female agenda."

The production team drew inspiration from Barbie's time in the 50s and 60s as well as modern Palm Springs, and all the backdrops were handpainted to highlight the vibrantness of BarbieLand. The production team for the movie even used so much pink paint that it caused a global shortage of a particular shade from the set design company, Rosco. Nothing about the dreamhouse is practical, but everything about it is nostalgic.

One thing to note about the dreamhouses is that they're all open, with little to no privacy. As children, this made it easier and more effective to play with dolls inside the dreamhouse, and in the film, this highlights the relationship the Barbies have with each other and the "ideal perfectness" of BarbieLand.

Unlike the real world, BarbieLand is utterly perfect. Everyone is kind to each other, and they all treat each other with respect - with the exception of the "Battle of the Kens" - so the openness of the dreamhouses emphasizes the fact that everyone in BarbieLand trusts each other. They never have to worry about any encounters with danger.

Another thing to note is that everything in BarbieLand is plastic or decals to emphasize the artificiality of the "toy world." In an interview with Architectural Digest, director Greta Gerwig, noted that she wanted "everyone to feel like they can reach onto the screen and touch everything." The overall goal for the set was to give viewers nostalgia and to make them feel as if they were once again children in a toy shop.

One element of this is evident in the lack of use of the stairs. In the trailer, Barbie either uses the slide to get downstairs or floats down to level ground. This highlights that, as kids, almost nobody used stairs to move their dolls. Most of the time, Barbie just jumped from floor to floor.

Frequently asked Question

How Old Is Barbie?

One of the biggest concerns about the film is Barbie's age. Theoretically, Barbie is thought to be a teenager as she was marketed as a teenage fashion model when she first came out and is marketed towards children. This is a valid argument, but it is important to note that the history of the Barbie doll started when Ruth Hadler wanted to create an adult-bodied doll for children. Barbie dates back 64 years ago, which would make Barbie herself around 64 years old.

Over the years, Barbie's age has fluctuated to suit her many careers, but Mattel officially stopped aging Barbie at 19 years old. Regardless of these facts, Margot Robbie looks flawless as ever and is the perfect actress to play the sparkly fashion icon we all know and love.

Will Barbie's Parents And Siblings Be In The Movie?

All the dolls in BarbieLand are based on the original dolls created by Mattel. The Barbies are especially specific to some of the many careers Barbie has had, such as president, author, doctor, and lawyer. As Barbie's parents do not have actual dolls, we will likely not see them in the film. Over the years, Barbie has been given many siblings, but the most notable are her three younger sisters, Skipper, Stacie, and Chelsea/ Kelly.

Skipper is one of the original Barbie dolls created as she was launched in 1964. Stacie and Kelly, on the other hand, were first introduced in 1990 and 1995. It is important to note that Barbie's youngest sister, most notably known as Chelsea in Life In The Dreamhouse, was first introduced in 1995 as Kelly, and if Barbie's sisters are in the film, she will most likely be named Kelly to match the original doll.

Why Is Everyone In BarbieLand Named Barbie or Ken?

As stated before, all the dolls in BarbieLand are based on the original dolls by Mattel, so it is important to know that most of these dolls were different variations of Barbie and Ken, with the exception of Barbie's friends Midge and Allan as well as her siblings, Skipper Stacie and Chelsea/ Kelly.

With the excitement about Barbie ramping up, it's safe to say that Greta Gerwig might finally get her much-deserved Oscar. Gerwig proves that even a so-called "children's movie" can have depth and layers.

Marissa Courtney
1,000+ pageviews

Writer since Jun, 2023 · 5 published articles

Marissa Courtney is an upcoming senior from Tampa, Florida. She’s been writing since she was a little girl and hopes to one day become a screenwriter and/ or journalist. Her hobbies include reading, writing, theatre, and singing.

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