Barbie has been a global fashion icon for almost 6 decades now. Manufactured by the American toy company, Mattel Inc. in March 1959, Barbie represents a worldwide brand with global sales of over $3 billion, and has played more than fifty roles over the years: from an astronaut, to a movie star, a race car driver, and even a mermaid—she’s done it all.
And after over 36 animated films and countless TV episodes, Barbie is about to take the live-action scene produced by and starring Australian actress and Academy Award nominee Margot Robbie.
In a statement to BBC News, Margot said that playing with the doll promoted “confidence, curiosity, and communication.” She also stated that she hoped that the film would have a “positive impact on children.”
At the helm of writing and creating Malibu Golden Girl’s adventure, Warner Bros. signs American actress and screenwriter Greta Gerwig (who is being eyed to sit on the director’s chair), and American filmmaker Noah Baumbach. Gerwig is known for directing Lady Bird, and has been hard at work for the upcoming major player Little Women (starring Meryl Streep, Saoirse Ronan, and Emma Watson). Meanwhile, Baumbach is praised for his numerous dramatic comedies, and was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Screenplay on his work The Squid and the Whale.
The tandem is an inapparent choice for such a mainstream icon that focuses on branded entertainment, but it just verifies that this live-action will not be what we expect of our usual sunny Barbie dream gal. Barbie has been a strong and symbolic figure for fashion, lifestyle, beauty, and even as a well-rounded and confident girl who is capable of anything. Children look up to her for her wide range of characters and careers, and her confidence in almost everything that she does—which is a message we hope to see within the upcoming film.
The Barbie image has evolved through the years, beginning with the most superficial symbolism of beauty and body image. The dolls are painted with spot-on makeup, bodies shaped to perfection, that once upon a time, the so-called “Barbie effect” made young girls subscribe to strict and unhealthy diets just to achieve the ideal Barbie body. This evolved, however, as Barbie began to diversify their dolls in terms of race, body type, and focused more on what Barbie can do instead of how she looks. Doctor Barbie, surfer Barbie, and teacher Barbie became the focus of the toy manufacturer, leveling Barbie up the empowerment playing field.
Warner Bros. and Mattel Films’ election of Gerwig and Baumbach will hopefully tackle such crucual issues of beauty, diversity, and women representation, that are vital to young girls who have grown up and are still growing up with the iconic Barbie. The signing of the tandem also goes to show the initiative of the studios and producers to curate a unique perspective for the mainstream icon, one that will stand out from all the rest.
This Barbie live-action was set to release in August 2018 under Sony, but returned back to Mattel Films and was set to work with Warner Bros. early last year. Previously linked to the film are stars Amy Schumer and Anne Hathaway, but had to pull out because of conflicts in their schedules.
The movie is now set to be released by Mattel Films in January 2020.
Photo courtesy of Barbie’s Instagram account
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