With Barbie just around the corner, there’s a lot of anticipation and wiggly legs. If you’re feeling underprepared to see the new Greta Gerwig movie, she has a full watchlist on her Letterboxd to help you through her filmmaking process and her many a classic inspiration that drove this project home. Now, there are some of us who don’t have access to or maybe an interest in watching these old movies, so I’ve tried to make a compilation of movies that includes some of Greta’s picks, but also my interpretation of what other movies could fall under this category. This list has been curated with the influence of Greta’s interviews, her own watchlist, and the promotional content of Barbie. If you’re having a watch party before seeing the new film, here are some films you could choose from:
The Wizard of Oz
This one is the most obvious choice because of the many references to the movie in Greta’s Barbie Land. From having a pink brick road to showing The Wizard Of Oz in cinemas in Barbie Land, there are many small details that give away the fact that Barbie is also traveling to another world and escaping her own reality. It’s especially fascinating because, when we parallel the two movies and their release times, there are many metaphoric representations in both regarding society at large. Yes, you don’t have to watch The Wizard Of Oz to understand Barbie, but there’s a lot of inspiration taken from the film. Greta even mentioned in an interview that she wanted to emulate the sound design and painted sets of movies of the 30s and 40s to create the genuinely artificial experience that makes Barbie a plastic doll. There’s also something interesting about a movie that shuns material wealth being the inspiration for one of the most glamorous movies ever made. While in Barbie land, everything is pink-coded, in Kansas City, everything is colorless. When Dorothy and Barbie go into their other worlds, respectively, things take a drastic turn for them!
Singing In The Rain
Yes, this is another one from Greta’s list, but the way she describes the beauty of this film makes you want to see it and appreciate it for what it is. There’s so much visually that we can take away from Singing In The Rain when compared to the live-action Barbie. The sets, the practicality of it all, the colors—it’s all extremely exciting. Greta’s proclaimed favorite movie, she specifically loves the dream ballet within the dream ballet sequence (you’ll know it when you see it); there’s a common theme in some of the films Greta picked: the musicality, the set design, and the love for art, and Singing In The Rain embodies this all just because it’s a film about films. Going from silent movies to “talkies” was a revolution in cinema history, and seeing Hollywood make movies about Hollywood is always fun! Also, there’s a certain visual reference for a particular character’s performance in Barbie that we won’t spoil for those who haven’t seen the interviews and are going in as a blank slate.
Yes, we’ve finally moved on from Greta’s list; it’s not just on here because it stars Margot, though. Just like Singing In The Rain, Babylon is an extravagant sort of history of Hollywood with a huge cast and magical scenes. Love it or hate it, it’s a movie that sparks conversation, and that’s another thing it has in common with Barbie. The movie has a much deeper meaning than its grandiose visual statement, which disappears with the fact that it’s a movie made by Damien Chazelle. What I mean is, everyone expected another La La Land, but we got a much more uncensored, dirty, and horrendous film about the most glamorous industry in the world. Multiple protagonists, romance, elaborate sequences—it’s got it all, and that’s why it should be on your watchlist. Plus, it’s always fun to see more of Margot.
Now, I’m not going to place The Truman Show on this list because then how is my list any different from Greta’s? Instead, I chose Birdman, which also entails multiple worlds, including a world where Birdman’s magic works versus the real world. Yes, they’re very different from each other, but underneath it all is a loss of identity and existentialism that is a common thread between these two movies and, of course, Barbie. How I’d like to see it: Birdman wishes for his daughter Sam’s acceptance of his strange self because the entire world has turned its back on him, and in many ways, when we see Barbie getting upset when the girl from the real world (in the trailer) tells her that she hasn’t played with Barbies since she was 5, It’s kind of a stretch, but you know, why not give it a go?
This is a beautiful adaptation of Akira Kurosawa’s Ikiru. There’s an otherworldly quality to the presentation of Living, and it’s a very emotionally touching film. If I talk about the themes, I may end up sounding very repetitive. It would just be very interesting to compare Barbie’s thoughts on dying with those of a terminally ill man on the same subject. It would be an interesting conversation, for sure. A movie about finding the meaning of life and leaving behind a legacy. There’s something very ordinary about Living that would make for a good wholesome meal before downing “Barbie” as a cocktail at night.
Which movies would you add to the “Barbie” Watch Party? We’re sure there’ll be more to add to the list after seeing the movie too!