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The Barbenheimer Experience

When I went to visit my friend over in Utah for the week, we set out on a mission: to see both

Oppenheimer and Barbie, better known as “Barbenheimer”. Quite simple, yes? One would think. But, getting tickets for the right theater for Oppenheimer was a struggle (we ended up settling for a regular screening as no IMAX, 70mm, XD, you name it, showings were available) and Barbie tickets were few and far between (but we snagged those!). Instead of seeing both on the same day, we decided to attend an Oppenheimer screening first on July 20th and a Barbie showing the following night with a group of fellow Barbies and Kens. Frankly, I’m quite happy we did that because we both definitely needed some time to digest each of the films!

Of course, we had to get dressed in black for our Oppenheimer viewing. My friend

and I put on our best outfits as we prepared to be taken through a 3-hour whirlwind of a movie depicting the creation of one of the most devastating devices ever used in mankind’s history. I’m honestly glad that we had decided on seeing Barbie the following day as we needed a bit of time to buffer and process what we had just viewed. While we weren’t able to get into an IMAX theater or one that was showing the film in 70mm, the visuals and audio were still astounding. I think one of my favorite aspects of this movie was how Christopher Nolan used the switch from color to black and white to signify a shift in whose perspective the audience was viewing the events from. I also couldn’t get enough of the sound, how brilliantly it was used, and how LOUD it was after the bomb had been set off, not to mention how accurate Nolan was with placing the sound of the bomb and the shock wave following the actual explosion itself. I truly do appreciate Nolan’s need to have everything in his movies as precise as possible- it makes it that much more immersive and entertaining.

Overall, Oppenheimer was a magnificent film with an equally magnificent cast that left me and my friend sitting on see-saws, analyzing the entire thing and wondering when we could see it again.

Now, Barbie, on the other hand, was a whole EVENT. Before even getting to the theater, a whole group of us met up in our finest pink attire (please applaud my friend, Katie, for crocheting her top and my bandana!) to grab some gelato in preparation for the masterfulness that was about to be handed directly to us. We chatted excitedly and got to know those we didn’t already before setting off to our final destination of the night: Barbieland.

The entire night was a whirlwind of pink. Everywhere you looked, someone was dressed and ready for Barbie. And, to say the least, I don’t think anyone was truly ready for this movie and

how emotional it actually was going to get. To those of us who had Barbies when we were younger, the film starts off reminiscent and wacky. But, as it progresses, it quickly begins to tug on one’s heartstrings, especially when the stark contrast of Barbieland and the real world is shown. The messages of girlhood and how being unapologetically a girl was something that I didn’t know I needed to hear until I watched this film. I didn’t expect to be so moved by this and, yet, here I was, laughing one moment and then about to cry the next. The beauty shown in this movie is so incredibly wide and each character brings a different component to the story that’s vital to the overall message (ie: Ken’s realization that he can become someone without attaching himself to the approval of another).

We all walked out of that theater giddy, emotion-filled, and changed, in a sense. Does that sound dramatic? Yes. Do I care? Not one bit. Every person that we walked past afterward would get a “Hi, Barbie!” or “Hi, Ken!” greeting and we’d get it in return. This film, this tale about a doll, has created such a community in ways that I, personally, did not expect. Greta Gerwig managed to wrangle such an important message into a movie about a toy and, for that, I have complete and unending respect for her. She is such an incredible filmmaker and this is just another added feat to put on her shelf.

The unanimous agreement that we all were to dress our best and just enjoy the thrill of these two films gave me such a euphoric feeling. Seeing people come together just to have some fun with the release of two very different movies makes me smile and I truly hope that further unintended events, like this very one, start to happen more often. Both Oppenheimer and Barbie are out in theaters now so, if you can, go grab a few friends and experience “Barbenheimer”!

Written by Ashley Lavalle

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