Greta Gerwig Defends Dream Ballet Scene at BFI London Film Festival

London dazzles with Barbie's cinematic musical revelation

by Nouman Rasool
Greta Gerwig Defends Dream Ballet Scene at BFI London Film Festival
© Joe Maher/GettyImages

At the BFI London Film Festival, Greta Gerwig, the acclaimed writer-director behind the mega-hit Barbie, opened up about a vital scene that almost didn’t make it to the big screen. The sequence, which turned Ryan Gosling's Ken into the star of an intricate dream ballet, was on the brink of being cut from the narrative.

Elaborating on the script's brief description, Gerwig shared, “It simply read, ‘And then it unfolds into a dream ballet, and they find resolution through dance.’” This sparked an intense discussion with studio executives, as she recalled during a panel led by Jesse Armstrong, the mastermind behind Succession.

“At a pivotal meeting, I faced questions like, ‘Is this sequence crucial?’ My answer? 'Every fiber of my being believes in this.' When they further probed, 'What's a dream ballet?', I responded, 'Let me take you on a journey!'”

Barbie Premiere's Musical Pinnacle

The European premiere of Barbie was held at Cineworld Leicester Square on July 12, 2023, in London.

Within the film, a dramatic crescendo among the Kens is marked by a musical act, striking a balance between an emotive power ballad and an intense face-off. Gerwig, who co-wrote this script with collaborator Noah Baumbach, drew inspiration from Singin' in the Rain, especially the musical segments that could be described as “a dream within a dream”.

She reflected, "If audiences could grasp the nuances in Singin' in the Rain, I was confident they'd resonate with our scene." Despite her inner conviction, Gerwig confessed to moments of self-doubt, “I constantly questioned, 'Is this a misstep?' Yet, I was all in." That bold stance reaped dividends.

Barbie, spotlighting Margot Robbie, not only raked in over $1 billion globally but also clinched the title of the year's highest-grossing movie. It further cemented Gerwig’s place in cinematic history as the top-earning female director helming a solo project.

As the conversation took a nostalgic turn with Armstrong referencing a moment from Frances Ha, where Gerwig starred and co-authored, she mused on her evolution. "It's been a while since I acted. The mindset of a director feels more familiar now," Gerwig remarked.

“There's a satisfaction in entrusting oneself to a director's vision. That's why I steer clear of acting in my projects. Juggling both roles would dilute the magic of each for me”.