Barbenheimer, Cultural Explosion

Wearing pink to watch “Barbie” and black to see “Oppenheimer” has become an exciting trend. Kate Rekas ‘23 and Zoe Edinburgh ‘23 posed in a Barbie box dressed in pink.
Review: is worldwide trend Kenough?

It was the ultimate summer of movies if you were looking for trends, deep messages, and explosions, both literal and colorful. Barbenheimer, a combination of the “Barbie” and “Oppenheimer” movies that came out on July 21, has taken the world by storm by enticing movie fans to watch the films on the same day. I did not have the opportunity to binge five hours worth of film in one day, but after watching the two movies in the span of three days, I came to some conclusions about the craze. 

I watched “Oppenheimer” first, and although the three-hour story was too long, it was engaging. I recommend watching the Barbie movie first, as “Oppenheimer,” though impressive in its cinematography and visual effects, was very draining. “Barbie” is energetic and exciting, but the story was overshadowed by how long and intense “Oppenheimer” is. I was not as invested.

Overall, I liked “Oppenheimer” more than “Barbie.” From Barbie’s singing to Oppenheimer’s black-and-white scenes, the movies could not have been more different. However, I found both stories to be artistic and fun. “Oppenheimer” transitions from the creation of the atomic bomb to the political fallout about J. Robert Oppenheimer’s secret relationship with the Communist party. I enjoy learning about history and politics, but the last hour seemed to be a complete shift away from the original bomb plotline. “Oppenheimer” successfully depicts Oppenheimer’s guilt over the construction of weapons of mass destruction and emphasizes the dangers of creating an arms race for nuclear warfare. The film showed us how destructive atomic bombs can be without really taking an ethical standpoint, a unique take. 

“Barbie” did not shy away from reinforcing messages about feminism and the issues with patriarchy, but I enjoyed it less than “Oppenheimer.” Maybe it was because the World War II film left me questioning the future of the world and the morality of humans, but I enjoyed the characters less and the story felt random at points.  The film addresses important subjects of gender norms, family, and belonging, but also briefly tries to comment on salient issues like capitalism, masculinity, and body image. At times, I felt that the film was trying to tackle too much at the same time. I would have liked if “Barbie ” had gone into depth on some vital topics rather than stretching too thin on many. The human characters were fun and brought the perspective of the “real world” to the Barbies, but the mother-daughter subplot was not explored enough. 

Both films were well-made and visually engaging. I’m more inclined to enjoy Robert Oppenheimer’s story, but I appreciated both movies for bringing up important points and doing so in creative and imaginative ways.

Wearing pink to watch “Barbie” and black to see “Oppenheimer” has become an exciting trend. Kate Rekas ‘23 and Zoe Edinburgh ‘23 posed in a Barbie box dressed in pink. (Mackenzie Higgins)
Although on the big screen, the explosion felt like real life.

While the release of “Barbie” at the end of July flooded theaters with pink, “Oppenheimer,” which was initially trampled by Barbie’s same-day release, has made a comeback. With the announcement of homecoming week’s first theme day, Barbie vs. Oppenheimer, I thought it was only appropriate to finally watch it. 


On Saturday, my dad, brother and I drove to the Minneapolis Showplace ICON theater in West End, St. Louis Park for a 7:30 showtime. Upon arriving, we ordered cheeseburgers and drinks from the kiosk for a fairly reasonable price. And, of course, a mega tub of popcorn (which I do not recommend, unless you are looking to feed a family of 6 for a week). 


When the movie finally started after 30 minutes of previews, it did not disappoint. As someone not usually interested in biographical or historical films, I went in with the expectation that Oppenheimer would be long and boring, however, I was wrong. Though it was a whopping 3 hours, it was certainly more entertaining than I had anticipated. 


Christopher Nolan retells the story of the creation of the atomic bomb in a way that audiences with little knowledge on the subject could follow. The overall plot was truly captivating, even for someone like me, who prefers a more action-packed film. What really brought the movie together, though, was the acting. The leading role of Robert J. Oppenheimer, the creator of the atomic bomb, is played by Cillian Murphy. You might recognize him from some of his other films, like the Netflix series “Peaky Blinders”, or “Inception.” The way he expresses emotion so deeply and realistically makes the movie-watching experience ten times better. Florence Pugh and Robert Downey Jr. also played large roles in the movie as Oppenheimer’s mistress and nemesis. Another honorable mention goes to composer Ludwig Göransson, who somehow incredibly recorded the music he composed for Oppenheimer in just five days. If you are sensitive to sound, I would recommend bringing earphones. As great as they were, the sound effects and music were oftentimes very loud. That said, Göransson’s music sets the mood for each scene.


Overall, I definitely recommend watching “Oppenheimer,” not only because it portrays one of the most important events in history, but also because it is genuinely entertaining. On a scale of 1-10, I rate it an 8.5. The only aspect keeping it from a 10 is the length.

Although on the big screen, the explosion felt like real life. (Bennett Wieland)
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