5 January 2024
Writing: Maximus Wilkinson (Year 11)
Photography: Sandra Gabriel (Unsplash)
Editing: Shubhan Selvaranjan (Year 13)
It is almost impossible to reminisce July 2023 without mentioning the ‘Barbenheimer’ cultural phenomenon - audiences rushed into theatres worldwide in an unprecedented frenzy, reviving the film industry which had been suffering post-pandemic. From a morose yet powerful three-hour-long tale about the atomic bomb to a current comedy based on a fantastical utopia, it was an odd pairing, to say the least. Ultimately, Barbie came out on top, grossing over one billion US dollars in just seventeen days, breaking countless records. However, was the movie any good?
After watching and enjoying the film, I began to gather that the shockingly pink paradise was not the full picture that Barbie told. While there was the hilarious portrayal of the dolls, floating rather than walking and going into a 2D wardrobe to change, on the other perfectly manicured hand there were the extremely unrealistic and perfectionist demands imposed on young girls, exacerbated by the very existence of the Barbie franchise itself. It is these archaic beliefs which are tackled in this thought-provoking yet refreshing sensation.
Underlying the whole narrative is the very serious issue of current societal expectations of women in a gender-biased world which has been cultivated over centuries. There are moments when all satire halts and a quite pensive and uncomfortably true train of thought occurs to Barbie, much to the dismay of all her companions who remain in ‘unknowing bliss’. Imagine thinking the world has ended just because you possess flat feet?! But that truly is the crux of this whole matter and, in short, the reason for the existence of this film in this era.
To many, Barbie is not the idol she is portrayed as, but is a symbol of retrogression for the women’s rights movement, differing from her ironic line, “Thanks to Barbie, all problems of feminism have been solved”. Nonetheless, the mammoth task that director Greta Gerwig had been burdened with was executed to perfection - her colourful blend of the thoughtful and the downright uproarious will ensure it becomes a masterpiece to last the ages. You know you have become a trendsetter when HASBRO has 30 toy-related films in the pipeline ranging from GI JOE to Play-Doh. However, if the movie industry should take anything from the trailblazer, it should not be to make more content on toys but rather to create further uplifting stories about women, by women. Though, movies about toys are welcome too, of course.
This movie receives an overall rating of 4 Challoner's shields out of 5; its ability to deliver a powerful message while also leaving viewers with a buoyant sense of pink makes this a must-watch.