Blog Post

13th August 2023 – Minister’s letter: Barbie – the messiness of life revealed.

Jas and I saw Barbie last week. The film has a lot going on, but here are some thoughts:

The movie’s great strength is its demonstration of life’s trouble, especially the pain of one group being dominant over another. Barbie’s world is ruled by women while the men are barely visible, superfluous to society’s needs. Placing the “shoe on the other foot” like this was an effective way of opening the viewer to the experience of others. The film also contrasts the happiness of Barbie’s shiny homeland with life’s darker emotions. It’s Barbie’s intruding “thoughts of death” which prompt her journey into the real world. There she experiences sadness and anxiety for the first time.

The film starts to flounder as it tries to tackle these issues. Logic awakens the characters to the unfairness around them. The gender imbalance is addressed by embracing autonomy while tolerating one another. Barbie’s thoughts of death aren’t satisfactorily resolved, perhaps only with an encouragement to embrace both yourself and death as the film ends. But a Christian world view would say: it’s the Holy Spirit who opens our eyes to reality; loving co-operation and reconciliation is preferable to autonomy and mere tolerance; and, well, Christ has defeated death! The film’s final line provides an unexpected moment of realism: despite the pursuit of gender equality, our distinct biological differences remain. 

It’s a well-cast and entertaining film, but some scenes do drag on a bit. A good date night. 7/10.

Martin Kemp