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Analyzing ‘Barbie’: A Close Look at a Scene

“My name is Greta Gerwig, and I am the co-writer and director of ‘Barbie.’”
“(SINGING) I’m just Ken. Anywhere else, I’d be a ten.”
“The thing that I can say most about this sequence is that this was the thing that I most knew what I wanted it to be, and no one else knew what I wanted it to be. Every time I look at this, it’s just the ridiculousness of how we did it, which is they’re obviously arriving on these pedalos on a beach that has no water. It’s a solid mass with these waves that are sculptures. And I had everyone in this scene pretend to be moving in slow motion except for Ryan, who’s singing. And I think I got four takes into it, and I thought, this just — is this so ridiculous that I’m doing pretend slow motion? But then I thought, I think I just have to commit. Now I’ve done it. There’s nothing else I can do. My stunt coordinator, Roy Taylor, who’s a brilliant, brilliant person, and he worked with my choreographer, Jenny White, because I wanted all the fighting to be somewhere between dancing and a kind of vaudevillian ridiculousness of a Buster Keaton or a Charlie Chaplin. I love that kind of physical comedy. So you see men tangoing in the background in addition to fighting. Because they’re Kens, they’re children. It all sort of goes together.”
“Ah!”
“Ah! Ah!”
“Then we have our Barbies, who are sort of watching with their pink boilersuits, which I think Jacqueline Durran, who is the costume designer, she did the pink boilersuits because I wore boilersuits every day. And she was like, I’ve decided what the Barbies will wear when they’re taking back Barbieland. And I cried when I saw it because I was like, oh, it’s a tribute to me. So much of this sequence is the song that Mark Ronson and Andrew Wyatt wrote, which was not in the script. But I did ask them because they were writing the song that became Dua Lipa’s ‘Dance the Night.’ I said we need a Ken song, and I think it goes in the battle. And then they wrote this song from the perspective of Ken. And then I said, Ryan, are you up for singing this? And he said yes, ultimately. But initially, I don’t know. I think he was like, you never said anything about this at the beginning. But I think they sent me 30 seconds of an idea for the song, that I just loved. And then I was like, Can you make it 11 minutes long? Because I want it to go through this whole sequence. And then this part, this dream ballet part, Sarah Greenwood, who is a production designer, and Katie Spencer built this stage to echo the dream ballet stage from ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ because I love that movie. And that has one of the best dream ballets of all time because they have a dream ballet that is inside of another dream ballet, which, I think, when people are like, will anyone understand this? I was like, yes. There is a context for this. They’ll grasp it. And every Ken, every Barbie, is a dancer the whole time. And then I chose all the actors, too, because they were good dancers. Jenny White, who was my choreographer, she and I looked at a lot of different musicals, different dream ballets. But Busby Berkeley was a huge reference.”
“(SINGING) I’m just Ken. Anywhere else, I’d be a ten.”
“I kind of love that ‘we’re putting on a show’ element of this movie, which is very connected to theater and also the pleasure of making something in a childlike way. And we started with dance rehearsals, and I think it was a good way to put everybody in that mindset of it’s not about perfection. It’s about this joy. And they obviously embodied that. In a way, you want the audience to walk out and say, I’d like to go make something. I want to go play. I want to go set something up. I want to do a performance. And that’s how I felt when I watched a lot of movies when I was a kid, or theater. I instantly was like, I’m going to organize my own version of ‘Starlight Express’ right now.”
“(SINGING) Nobody else Nobody else I’m just Ken.”

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