Barbie opening scene explained: the movie meaning

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We can safely say that Barbie was one of the most significant milestones in the 2023 movie scene, for the way it drove the world’s attention: after generating a shortage of pink paint, after drifting the music universe towards the new songs in its soundtrack (What Was I Made For? and Barbie World above all), the film with Margot Robbie managed to give access to a brand new knowledge for the younger generations. Many spectators discovered who Ruth Handler was and how her daughter Barbara inspired the birth of the most famous doll ever. But the movie also created a connection with a classic cinema masterpiece: the opening scene paying homage to Stanley Kubrick and his 2001: A Space Odyssey. Let’s see what happened and how that scene has explained the movie’s meaning.

You can watch the official trailer for the 2023 movie Barbie here on Youtube.

Barbie, the opening scene explained & the movie meaning

The opening scene of the 2023 movie Barbie is an explicit homage to one of the biggest masterpieces of the history of cinema, 2001: A Space Odyssey by Stanley Kubrick. And the artistic choice of starting the movie in this way tells us something important about the meaning of the movie Barbie.

In the opening scene, we watch a group of silent little girls playing with anonymous dolls without particular happiness. Barbie enters the scene as an alien creature (or a glimpse of modernity) in that prehistoric world. By introducing the idea of a doll who can be a woman’s model, instead of representing infants who need a mom, the children enter a new phase of their evolution, jumping directly into a more mature dimension.

The idea has many points of contact with the famous opening scene of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey. You can find it below to refresh your memory (or discover it for the first time, eventually).

2001: A Space Odyssey - The Dawn of Man

The famous “monkey scene” of the most important sci-fi movie of all time shows a symbolic moment of human evolution: our ape ancestors are just animals driven by instincts. But one day, a new presence enters the scene. The black monolith stands among the apes, and its presence is enough to speed up the evolution of the animals. In the following scene, a monkey shows a new character, trying to impose itself as a new protagonist of history.

By using this heavy reference, Barbie has explained to us the meaning this doll introduces in the children’s world. According to this vision, before Barbie, little girls were playing with dolls only as an imitation game, a way to have a feeling of how their mothers live. After Barbie, girls had the chance to interact with more advanced models of women in society. And that is where all the other barbies come from: the astronaut, the CEO, the surgeon, the dancer, the superstar, they all represent “other” horizons the girl can have in life, instead of being only moms. And that also includes the big question about Barbie’s influence on children, which is also a topic that emerges in the movie.

With that opening scene, the movie Barbie intended to show us the meaning the doll had in the past decades: a big step forward in the evolution of society, if we want to put it that way. Precisely like Kubrick’s philosophy behind the opening of his sci-fi masterpiece.

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