Every Way The Barbie Trailer Mirrors 2001: A Space Odyssey


Here are all the ways Greta Gerwig’s trailer for the upcoming Barbie movie seems to parallel the beginning of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Stanley Kubrick’s iconic masterpiece, and why. Barbie will be based on Mattel’s famous Barbie dolls that have previously been the protagonists of many animated movies. However, the upcoming Barbie directed by Gerwig and co-written by Noah Baumbach and Gerwig is going to be the very first live-action adaptation with the titular character. Although there have been talks about a Barbie live-action since 2009, the project became what it is now in the past few years.

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Little has been released about the actual plot of Greta Gerwig’s Barbie except for the fact that it will follow Barbie in her adventures between Barbieland and the human world in a strange fantasy setting. Barbie is said to be looking for happiness in the human world in the live-action movie after being expelled from Barbieland. However, a lot about Barbie is still unknown. The teaser trailer may help in this as it does reveal a few things about the movie and the tone it will take to tell Barbie’s story, thanks to the parallel with 2001: A Space Odyssey.

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Barbie Uses The Same Music As 2001: A Space Odyssey

Margot Robbie smiling and tilting sunglasses down in Barbie movie

While the opening sequence of 2001: A Space Odyssey has become famous in many ways, a large part of it is the music that it uses. In this first scene, Kubrick decided to use Richard Strauss’ “Also Sprach Zarathustra,” and the music entered the mainstream public consciousness thanks to 2001: A Space Odyssey. In the film, the same music is used multiple times throughout after the opening scene. Barbie is already set to be one of the most anticipated films of 2023, and Strauss’ music, combined with the other 2001: A Space Odyssey parallels helps to keep up the intrigue.

Barbie’s Landscape Shots Are The Same As Kubrick’s Film

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The similarities between Barbie’s teaser trailer and 2001: A Space Odyssey do not stop at the use of music. From the beginning of the teaser trailer for Barbie, the comparison with 2001: A Space Odyssey is evident as the landscape shots that open the trailer are a replica of the opening shots of 2001: A Space Odyssey. In fact, if viewers were to play the two sequences next to each other, they would find that the shots are identical, at least until the respective casts are shown after the first few initial shots.

Barbie Replaces Apes With Little Girls

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Barbie‘s trailer depicts small children rather than apes. The first notable difference between Barbie and 2001: A Space Odyssey is who each sequence focuses on. While known for its ambiguous ending, 2001: A Space Odyssey is also famous for the opening scene featuring a tribe of apes as the central focus of the opening sequence, and for Barbie small fascinated children play the role instead. Kubrick’s masterpiece may aim to tell the story of humanity from its very beginning with the apes, but Barbie will tell the story of little girls and their dolls, from the very beginning, before Barbie arrived.

Barbie’s Girls Have Dolls Not Bones

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With the apes of 2001: A Space Odyssey replaced with small children in Barbie, it makes sense that the apes’ bones are replaced with something else: dolls. After all, the idea of dolls is so deeply connected to little girls that it is almost as if dolls have existed ever since “the first little girl ever existed,” as suggested by Mirren’s voiceover. Most famously, in 2001: A Space Odyssey, the apes with their bones symbolize their evolution. Similarly, the trailer for Barbie, featuring Margot Robbie in the titular role, shows the little girls destroying their dolls, as the girls themselves witness the evolution of their toys.

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Kubrick’s Monolith Becomes Barbie

Margot Robbie as the Barbie Monolith in Barbie teaser trailer

In the Barbie trailer, Barbie appears as a statuary figure that represents an exciting novelty for the little girls used to baby dolls that soon get destroyed. In Barbie‘s rendition of 2001: A Space Odyssey, just as the monolith in the original disrupts the apes’ life and creates curiosity among the hominids’ tribe to the point, Barbie too creates an upheaval, causing the little girls to destroy their toys upon seeing Barbie. Therefore, the famous shot of the bone that leads to the subsequent cut is replaced by a little girl smashing her doll on the ground after Barbie majestically appears.

Why Barbie Mirrors 2001: A Space Odyssey

Margot Robbie Winking in sparkly outfit in Barbie

Kubrick’s film is known as an existentialist masterpiece, reflecting on the nature of humankind from its very beginning. This is what Margot Robbie’s Barbie seeks to reference: using the apes’ sequence as a model for its own trailer suggests that Barbie too may take an unexpected existentialist turn. Given director Gerwig’s past films such as Little Women and Ladybird, as well as Robbie’s own past work, Barbie‘s homage to 2001: A Space Odyssey reveals that the film goes beyond a simple tribute and is likely to carry a stronger feminist message.

However, the reference to Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey can also be interpreted in an ironic tone, especially given the final section of the trailer where the style completely changes from the Kubrick-inspired atmosphere. In fact, from the Barbie trailer and its parallels with 2001: A Space Odyssey, viewers can also imagine that Barbie is likely to have a satiric and fun tone to it. Given the anticipation has already garnered, 2023 may signify a box-office success for Barbie, as the film may want to be both reflective and funny, as its reference to Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey suggests.

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