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Barbie Movie Takes Inspiration from an Unexpected Source: A Book Not About the Doll

A feminist book for a feminist film

Barbie Movie Takes Inspiration from an Unexpected Source: A Book Not About the Doll
Juan Carlos Saloz

Juan Carlos Saloz

Barbie is a brand that has thousands of dolls, dozens of movies and series, hundreds of accessories, and just as many video games. But what did Greta Gerwig, the director of the film starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling, base the narrative of Barbie on? As she revealed in Vogue, none of that.

Reviving Ophelia

Greta Gerwig has given an exclusive interview to the magazine, in which she talks about her career and, of course, makes room to explore her upcoming film: Barbie. In it, she takes the opportunity to reveal the basis of her story, which remains a mystery for now, and how it will unfold.

The most surprising aspect of the director’s response has been her main reference when approaching the film: the book “Reviving Ophelia” by Mary Pipher, published in 1994, which Gerwig read as a child. The book’s subtitle is “Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls” and discusses how girls succumb to social pressures and lose their essence as they enter adolescence. Gerwig explains:

“My mother would get books from the library about parenting, and then I would read them. Girls are funny, bold, and confident, and then they just… stop. What is the journey that an adolescent takes? Suddenly, adolescence arrives, and she thinks, ‘Oh, I’m not good enough’.”

In this way, Barbie aims to be a critique of that feeling that both Gerwig and all girls experience at some point. That journey from boldness and fun suddenly halted by external pressures and other influences. We still don’t know what the movie will be like, but it’s certainly leaving some clues about the evolution of Margot Robbie’s character in it.

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Juan Carlos Saloz

Juan Carlos Saloz

Cultural journalist specialized in film, series, comics, video games, and everything your parents tried to keep you away from during your childhood. Also an aspiring film director, screenwriter, and professional troublemaker.

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