Barbie Movie Director Consulted Director Of Jim Carrey Classic For Advice On Creating Barbieland

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Warning: Major SPOILERS lie ahead for Barbie!


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Summary

  • Director Greta Gerwig sought advice from Peter Weir, director of The Truman Show, on creating a better on-set environment for Barbie, showcasing solidarity among directors in helping each other navigate similar concepts.
  • Barbie shares multiple parallels with The Truman Show, exploring themes of stepping outside comfort zones and confronting reality.
  • Both movies revolve around artificial worlds and the characters’ journey to find truth beyond the simulated environments they inhabit.

The blockbuster hit Barbie took some direct inspiration from The Truman Show. Following the story of Barbie (Margot Robbie) and Ken (Ryan Gosling), Barbie pulls the pair out of Barbieland and introduces them to the real world, where they encounter realistic struggles for the first time in their lives. The film has become a massive success and is expected to cross the $1 billion milestone at the box office over the weekend.

If Barbie‘s entire story hinges on Barbieland and the Real World, it’s partly because director Greta Gerwig was inspired by The Truman Show. Speaking with AP News, Gerwig revealed that she called the director of the Jim Carrey classic, Peter Weir, for advice in bringing Barbieland to life, given his work in creating an artificial town on soundstages for the 1998 movie. Check out her quote below:

He was so generous getting on the phone with me. I had this idea of making Barbieland basically an interior soundstage world. That was the concept. But as big as soundstages are, they’re not the world. They’re going to be small. You can only hang the lights so high. There’s obviously parts of his movie that are done on a stage, but then there are other parts of it that can’t possibly be on a stage because it’s too big, but it feels like it’s on a stage, you know? Why does it feel like it’s on a stage? He explained to me they did shoot a lot of it outside in this community in Florida, but that they hung big stage lighting everywhere, so it would look lit even though it was outside. And then he said it made everything like 120 degrees and that he did not suggest that. He was like I wouldn’t do that. It works, but you might want to avoid making a place that’s hot, hotter. In my experience, directors are so generous speaking about what they’ve done and how they did it and what were the problems, because you’re only ever on your own movie AND movies are hard, and they always feel completely unlikely and completely impossible but in a new way that the other one wasn’t. Whatever lessons you learned on the last one, you can apply some of them, but it’s going to be a new set of issues. And other directors want to give you the knowledge that they’ve gotten that they can’t use anymore because they’ve already made that movie. I had the same experience when I was making “Little Women.” Steven Spielberg was incredibly generous with me because he had made “Lincoln,” which took place in the same year. He opened up all of his research, all the lighting diagrams that he did with his cinematographer. He was like here’s how we did it. He just showed me absolutely everything. Even though you’re only ever in your own dream of your own movie, there’s camaraderie in the loneliness.

Editor’s Note: This piece was written during the 2023 WGA and SAG-AFTRA strikes, and the movie covered here would not exist without the labor of the writers and actors in both unions.


Barbie Echoes The Truman Show’s Themes

Ryan Gosling as Ken Making a Heart during a song in the Barbie Movie

The Truman Show is all about stepping outside of comfort zones to confront reality. Truman has lived his entire life in a literal bubble, surrounded by people who serve as paid actors in his own personal story. After encountering the truth, he could have elected to live his entire life within the lie. Instead, The Truman Show ends with Truman walking free, no longer bound to his island and having faced his fears.

Barbie shares that exact same story, as instead of returning to Barbieland and shunning the Real World, Barbie accepts the idea of pain, loss, and even outright death. She turns away from a life of dolls and instead explores a world that is not inhabited by toys and bright pink joy. Her existential crisis concludes with the idea that life is worth living even if loss is inevitable. Ken, too, finds a way to live without Barbie and without falling prey to the concept of the patriarchy.

Artificial worlds limiting titular characters are what The Truman Show and Barbie both revolve around, and in many ways, the movies are entirely complimentary. Weir offering advice on how to promote a better on-set environment for Barbie is extraordinary, because it shows the solidarity between the directors and helps ensure that Barbie can learn from Weir’s experience with a very similar concept. Barbie and The Truman Show are all about finding the truth beyond the simulated worlds, and that’s why they both work so well.

Source: AP News