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ryan gosling and margot robbie in barbie movie
ryan gosling and margot robbie in barbie movie
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Culture > Entertainment

Like Barbie? Here are Some Films that Inspired It

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at JMU chapter.
barbie movie behind the scenes 0002?width=1024&height=1024&fit=cover&auto=webp

I don’t think it’s a surprise to anyone that Barbie became the highest-grossing movie of 2023. At $575 million in the U.S. and $1.3 billion on a global scale, according to The Direct, the money speaks for itself. Of course, like all great films, the movie was inspired by other movies that helped create the masterpiece that is Great Gerwig’s (and Mattel’s) Barbie.

The most visible and prominent example is the introduction to the movie, where a bunch of young girls throw and maul their baby-dolls to the Also Sprach Zarathustra” ballad when they see the beautifully feminine and powerful (and giant) Margot Robbie. This is a copy from the movie 2001: A Space Odyssey which IGN made a comparison video on YouTube of, if you want the frame by frame.

Another film that Gerwig took inspiration from, according to a LetterBoxd article, was The Truman Show. The seemingly picture-perfect life that Barbie lives before it becomes destroyed is very similar to what Truman has to go through. Another similarity that both films have is the set itself. Since both movies required large sets that needed an element of control and authentic to the picturesque aesthetic, lighting was very important. Peter Wier, the director of The Truman Show, shot the movie outside but kept the lights to make it feel like it was inside a studio. Can you imagine how hot that must have been? According to a CBR article, Wier told Gerwig explicitly not to make that same mistake.

The Wizard of Oz also seems to have had a creative influence on Barbie, particularly in the scenes where they’re going to the Emerald City. When Barbie and Ken go to the human world together, there’s a similar fantastical (but obviously artificial) display to their journey. Gerwig swapped the yellow brick road with a pink one, and the painted backgrounds and horizons also take from that movie in a vintage and playful sort of way – in the same way a child might create a world for their Barbie doll.

A film that I think shared similarities with the Barbie movie, is the movie Brave, specifically focusing on the complicated mother-daughter relationship. Merida and Queen Elinor share similarities with the bond of Gloria and Sasha in Barbie. Mothers and daughters misunderstand each other a lot, especially when daughters are not quite old enough to understand what their mothers go through as they age, and mothers struggling to adapt to what it’s like to have a teenage girl who’s not so little anymore. Both interpretations of mothers and daughters are not only great displays of that dynamic, but also Gerwig’s specialty, being the director of both LadyBird and Little Women where the mother-daughter relationship is debatably the most important part of both films.

So, if you can’t get enough of Greta Gerwig’s Barbie, for all it has to offer, these movies are the next best thing to watching the movie over and over (like I do).

Alexa is a Communications major and a Women's Gender and Sexuality Studies minor.