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Why Poor Things is better than Barbie

It’s a duel between Barbie and Bella Baxter for the title of feminist icon of the Oscars 2024. That’s why the protagonist of Poor Things would win it!


The night of the Oscars has just ended and the result of the race for the golden statuettes has not betrayed the predictions: in a solo sprint riding his Oppenheimer, with 7 awards out of 13 nominations, Christopher Nolan is the king of this edition. The scene, however, took two films that chased the biopic of the American physicist: Barbie by Greta Gerwig (8 nominations, a statuette) and Poor Things by Yorgos Lanthimos (11 nominations, 4 statuettes). If there had been a recognition for the best feminist film, both films would have been prominent candidates: in the end, however, hands down would have won Poor Things. That’s right: a movie directed by a man.

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So similar to each other...

An exaggerated scenographic language unites the two films: an eyesore (of pink plastic) the first; grotesque and surreal atmospheres from A Series of Unfortunate Events the second. Two successful actresses, Margot Robbie and Emma Stone, who play a doll: the blond creation of Mattel on the one hand, the macabre and scientific experiment of a modern Doctor Frankenstein on the other. In search of independence and emancipation, they sneak under the glass bell in which they live, whether it be Barbieland or the study of Dr Godwin Baxter (Willem Dafoe), to experience the world, the out there Notre Dame memory.

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Barbie is claiming the right to "be whatever you want", even imperfect or far from the expectations of others. It’s sisterhood against patriarchy; it exposes the stereotype machista, of which Ken becomes the first deconstructor. Barbie embodies an idea of high emancipation, embellished, perhaps more constrained, by a politically correct language: think yourself free... but with grace, clean soul and high ideals.

Bella Baxter is this and more, an expression of a concrete and wild freedom, unbridled for the drunkards of the time and the present that passes through the sexual revolution. Bella is a woman who is not ashamed of her urges, determined to make her body what she wants, despite being surrounded by men who tell her what she can and cannot do. Think yourself free... to also be ungracious, irreverent and incorrect.

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Barbie would have been perfect if it hadn’t come out Poor Things

Although both are of the highest level, and in their complementary way, the comparison between the two films is inevitable. Barbie touches on important themes, combined with a hint of excessive idealism. A choice perhaps also dictated by the target audience, so you need the volemose bene final.

Poor Things, forbidden instead to the under 14, hits hard until the last frame, constantly puts in difficulty the male characters, who clash with both his naive and authentic determination of emancipation, both with their own weaknesses difficult to accept and externalize.

In a nutshell: if Ken is already on the way to deconstruction and can be acquitted, Professor Godwin, Duncan Wedderburn, Alfie Blessington, the men of Poor Things, they are the emblem of toxic masculinity to fight hard.

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In the world, today there are more Godwin, Wedderbun and Blessington than Ken. Barbie and Poor Things represent two different approaches, one "conciliative", the other combative: if we are barely at the beginning of the change, already thinking about conciliation is difficult and far from reality. What male audiences should do, after watching Yorgos Lanthimos' film, is exactly the opposite of what male characters do in front of a free woman: don’t be afraid to question yourself.



Illustrazione di Gloria Dozio - Acrimònia Studios