a writer's blog

Greta Gerwig’s Barbie

Barbie

Barbie

Barbie, USA 2023. Directed by Greta Gerwig, screenplay by Greta Gerwig and Noah Baumbach.

CineStar Theater 2, Row 5, Seats 11+12. Original version.

(This post originally appeared, in much shorter form, at my Instagram account betweendrafts.)

Thoroughly enjoyable, great acting, awesome sets and costumes, and a really clever script.

Cinematographer Rodrigo Prieto—who did a lot of terrific work from 8 Mile to Killers of the Flower Moon—brought Barbie Land’s “authentic artificiality” to life. Naturally, this unusual set came with unusual challenges in terms of depth, lighting, and color (particulars here, also for the following).

To make Barbie Land feel like a “miniature but not exactly” and a “daytime exterior but not exactly,” he chose the Alexa 65 with its bigger sensor for a more shallow depth of field, and used smaller sensors for the “real world” in contrast. What’s more, they used lookup tables for Barbie Land based on three-strip Technicolor (which they called “TechniBarbie”), to create the look and feel of movie musicals from the first half of the twentieth century. So clever.

As for the content, there’s not a lot to say, except that it was highly entertaining, and that postmodernism—narratively, aesthetically, philosophically—is not only not dead but cheerfully alive and well. I felt right at home.

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