- Greta Gerwig’s movie Barbie includes a reference to the Proust Barbie, which is not a real version of the doll, but a clever nod to Marcel Proust’s novel.
- In the film, Barbie finds herself in the real world and encounters Mattel executives who mention the unsuccessful sales of the Proust Barbie.
- The reference to Proust’s Barbie in the film creates a cryptic connection to Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer and has become a pop culture phenomenon. The audience is left to imagine what a Barbie Proust might look like.
Warning: spoilers for Greta Gerwig’s Barbie movie.
Barbie is full of references to a variety of Barbie dolls, known and unknown versions of the famous doll, but one in particular has caught the attention of viewers: Barbie Proust, and here is her true story and connection to Christopher Nolan Oppenheimer. Directed by Greta Gerwig, Barbie took the famous Mattel doll and sent her on a journey of self-discovery, though not without some very real commentary on various real-life issues such as patriarchy, gender inequality and capitalism.
Barbie sees Stereotypical Barbie (Margot Robbie) going through an existential crisis when her perfect life begins to change. After seeking guidance from eccentric Barbie (Kate McKinnon), Barbie, along with Stereotype Ken (Ryan Gosling), travel to the real world to find the child playing with her and fix the portal between her world and the real one. Throughout her journey, Barbie features a variety of dolls and references many others, some of them quite obscure and forgotten, but one in particular has left viewers wondering just how far Mattel has gone with its Barbie dolls: the Proust Barbie, but unlike the rest, this is not a real version of the Barbie doll.
Mattel has never made a Proust Barbie despite the movie reference
The arrival of Barbie and Ken in the real world puts Mattel executives on high alert and they order their capture. Ken returns to Barbieland alone after exploring more of the real world and learning about patriarchy, while Barbie is found by Mattel agents and taken to the company’s headquarters. There she meets the CEO of Mattel (Will Ferrell), who is waiting for her with a large Barbie box. Barbie enters the box and mentions that the scent is a Proustian memory, with the CEO mentioning how badly Barbie sold Proust. until Barbie discontinuous, controversial, and ambiguous characteristics of Barbies and Kens, Mattel never made a Proust Barbie.
Greta Gerwig talked about this specific scene in Barbie with AP news, showing why she added a reference to French novelist Marcel Proust. Gerwig explained that in Swann’s Roadthe first volume of the novel In search of lost time (first translated as Remembering things past), the narrator returns to his childhood through the taste of a tea-soaked madeleine. The stereotypical Barbie had a similar flashback experience upon entering the box, which Gerwig captured to make a joke about the many failed Barbie dolls that have been made over the years.
The Proust Barbie gives the film a secret connection to Oppenheimer
In the aforementioned interview, AP news shared with Gerwig that Marcel Proust was a favorite of J. Robert Oppenheimer, with Gerwig jokingly saying that Oppenheimer “Proust would have loved Barbie“. Proust has now become an unexpected link between Barbie and Nolan’s Oppenheimer, two of the biggest films of the summer (and arguably 2023 as a whole), which were already tied by sharing the same release date. “Barbenheimer” has become a pop culture phenomenon, but one that has greatly benefited the cinema as it has brought back the excitement and interest in watching movies in cinemas. Back to Proust Barbie, what she would be like is up to the imagination of the audience and is definitely one of the cleverest and most interesting references in Barbie.
Source: AP news.