Not only has the films’ release dates being on the same day, July 21, started a “Barbieheimer” phenomenon across social media but the two movies, with completely contrasting themes, have some other similarities.
During a recent interview with the Associated Press, published online Thursday, Gerwig elaborated on why she chose to reference infamous author Marcel Proust in the film.
“In “Remembrance of Things Past,” in “Swann’s Way,” he is literally thrown back into his childhood through the taste of the madeleine,” she explained. “I thought, well, that’ll be a nice Easter egg for one person.”
The specific scene the director is referencing is when Margot Robbie’s Barbie steps inside her plastic packaging and makes a remark that the familiar smell is a Proustian memory. Will Ferrell’s Mattell CEO character then proceeds to say, “Remember Proust Barbie? That did not sell well.”
But what Gerwig didn’t know is that this weekend’s competing film also has a connection to Proust. Nolan’s film is based on American scientist J. Robert Oppenheimer and his role in the development of the atomic bomb, and Oppenheimer, the man himself, reportedly had an appreciation for the author as well.
When Gerwig learned of the connection, she responded, “So he would have loved Proust Barbie!”
The highly-anticipated film follows Robbie’s Barbie and Ryan Gosling’s Ken, who seem to be living this colorful and perfect life in Barbie Land. But when Barbie gets the chance to go to the real human world, she goes on a journey to understand herself and discover her true purpose.
Earlier in the interview, Gerwig also shared if she likes to read movie reviews once they come out and what her thoughts were after seeing some of the ones for Barbie.
“Of course. I’m not Emily Dickinson. I’m not above anything,” she said, noting that she did wait the following day to read them because she was too nervous to look on Wednesday. “There’s a lot of reviewers that I really respect and have really liked. Film criticism matters to me as a person and also being in conversation with people who think about cinema matters. But it can feel very scary at the moment that you’re at the emotional pitch of releasing a movie to take it in.”
Gerwig added that she also likes to look back at the reviews a few weeks later so she “can take it in more.”
“It’s too overwhelming at the moment,” the director said. “But I did check the email and I’m pleased. [Barbie] seems to have been received in the spirit that it was meant, which is exciting.”
Barbie debuts in theaters Friday.