Barbie, the beloved doll created by Mattel over six decades ago, is getting a movie from director Greta Gerwig, but where Barbie is set is being kept tightly under wraps. Behind-the-scenes photos and videos, including actors Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling in their respective roles as Barbie and Ken, have been dropping sporadically since filming began in March 2022. At the moment, production has not revealed the characters’ location in the colorfully costumed Barbie movie and whether it will be set in the fictional “Barbieland,” the real world, or both.
Barbie is one of the most highly anticipated films coming out in the next year, but very few details have been announced. The plot, setting, and even the specifics of the main characters are completely unknown. Much of the information comes from set photos, videos, and speculation. While Barbie‘s stars have shared some information about what can be expected of the movie, none of those details have really cleared things up much. Margot Robbie teased that the movie is “going to give [the audience] something totally different.” What that means is that Barbie will be totally unexpected.
However, the much-hyped Barbie movie could still follow in the footsteps of past works and be set in a combination of a fictional realm known as “Barbieland” and the real world. The 2000 Disney TV movie Life-Size, for example, is about a Barbie-like doll named Eve (played by Tyra Banks) that comes to life and tries to navigate being alive in the real world, as opposed to her usual bright and very plastic “Sunnyvale.” Gerwig’s Barbie movie could be similar to Life-Size, following Barbie and Ken as they are transported out of their world of dolls and into the real world.
An old synopsis for the movie, prior to Gerwig’s involvement, claimed Barbie would follow “a doll living in ‘Barbieland’ [who] is expelled for not being perfect enough [as she] sets off on an adventure in the real world.” Whether that is still the premise is unknown, but some of Barbie‘s revealed star-studded casting and roles hint that Gerwig has stuck with the concept. For instance, Will Ferrell is playing the CEO of Mattel, the company that manufactures Barbie dolls. Set photos show the actor in character angrily chasing after Robbie and Gosling’s Barbie and Ken on rollerskates. This could be a sequence in which Ferrell’s toy company boss is trying to retrieve the come-to-life dolls and return them to Barbieland, while Barbie and Ken want to stay in the real world.
It’s unlikely Gerwig would take a more literal approach to Barbie and just set the movie in Barbie’s fictional world. The Oscar-nominated filmmaker is known for subverting expectations and portraying women in many different ways. A movie solely set in “Barbieland” would not qualify as the “totally different” and better than expected Barbie movie teased over the last few months. Barbie is likely to be set in both “Barbieland” and the real world, but until the movie comes out in July 2023 or more details are unveiled, the exact locations within its story remain unknown.
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