Life in plastic, more explosive than expected: A Barbenheimer Retrospective

By Denali Klipstein

Did you make it to Barbenheimer this summer? Greta Gerwig’s Barbie and Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer both rolled into theaters July 21st, 2023, and it is still being talked about. Through a stroke of genius counterprogramming, both films brought movie goers all over for the dual viewing experience. In fact, many dressed for the part, as it became a trend through multiple social media platforms to truly embody the barbenheimer fashion. 

But was it good? 

The question that everyone wants to know, and truly, the answer is you must find out for yourself. Overall, I think many can agree that Barbie had its quirks and can be considered as a wackier film. In the realm of pink there were many iconic moments, from the 80’s power Ballad “I’m Just Ken” that anyone could sing to the out-of-pocket pop culture references that were strewn throughout. But other than Ken’s self-pitying satire, there are also moments of sincerity. (SPOILERS AHEAD) The perfect life of Barbie meets the harsh truths of the world as she attempts to understand herself in light of an existential crisis. This journey can be a feel-good for some, or a tearjerker to others and I think Margot Robbie played the perfect role as our childhood symbol. 

Although Barbie was an ambitious film, it was at times inconsistent with the way it transitioned. While it delved into the dual worlds of upbeat hilarity, the film has a difficult time transitioning to serious messages and themes. That is to say, a project like this is no breeze, however at times it was hard to track what was really being said through the satirical gender roles portrayed in the movie. I still think that it is worth watching even now because it can be understood at any level, whether it’s just the surface or the most relatable film created. 

What about Oppenheimer? 

This film was a three-hour historical biography of the father of the Atom Bomb. Played by Cillian Murphy, Oppenheimer was a heavier film and showcased the intensity and calculation that went in to fabricating such a famous weapon. It also explored the controversies involving political stances and how that was a large obstacle between the minds that unleashed the power of science. Christopher Nolan ensures to include as much information as possible through courtroom drama, academic dispute and Oppenheimer’s turmoil about the bomb’s use. Overall, this film was an excellent representation that puts to scale the effort it took to build the haunting device. 

Personally, I was there for the explosions. Christopher Nolan did provide that; however, I did go in with the expectation that I would see more. I will say, with movie theater speakers and big screen visuals, I was blown away when they test dropped the atom bomb and don’t think I could experience that again on a normal TV. Needless to say, Nolan was open about how he wanted to use the least amount of computer-generated special effects and was trying to keep the final product as close to the raw footage as possible. I also found that the ending dragged on and it requires some patience to sit through the full 3 hours of the film, but the topic of the Manhattan Project was something I was interested in enough to watch it through and found it worth it. 

Copyright © 2020 The Oredigger Newspaper. All Rights Reserved.