Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Dominique Martinez-Powell |
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Barbenheimer: The cinematic yin-yang that revived theater culture


Christopher Nolan’s thriller about the construction of the atomic bomb and Greta Gerwig’s heartfelt message to women displayed through the lens of a children’s toy could not be more different. Yet both happened to hit theaters on the exact same day: July 21, 2023.

It is this contradiction of plot elements that led to the cultural phenomenon we all now know as “Barbenheimer.”

Junior student Connor Walsh said society’s buzz about the films influenced him to see “Oppenheimer” in the first place. He hopes to watch “Barbie” soon.


“It’s a large part why I had to go see it, and I don’t see many movies in theaters,” Welsh said. “I had to see at least one of the two because people were talking about it.”

Senior SIU student Aisha Ruperto loved the “Barbie” movie.

“I thought it did what it needed to do,” Ruperto said. It was inclusive to everyone, your whole family could watch this movie. I watched it with my family.”

She felt it touched on the female experience in a very impressive and unique way. In her eyes,  everyone should watch it because of that..

“It shed light on a lot of issues that women face on a day to day basis and the struggles we go through,” Ruperto said.

“The message of ‘Barbie’ was really powerful,” said sophomore SIU student Laney Beltz.

Beltz said the most memorable quote from the movie was, “We mothers stand still so our daughters can look back to see how far they have come.”


Walsh said that although changes could’ve been made to improve the film, he was still a big fan of “Oppenheimer”.

“It was fascinating that it was a story on what makes a man evil. Or what makes him good, he said.” It can be hard to tell, especially with how the movie framed him.”

Beltz, who saw both films, was a much bigger fan of the second half of “Oppenheimer,” which focused more on the title character’s court case.

“The first half was kind of boring, talking about the science of it all. But the legal part on the back half was more interesting,” she said.

July 21, 2023 was a historic moment in movie history. A lot was riding on these two films once it was announced they were hitting theaters the same day.

Walsh said he’s happy they both turned out so well, because it drew people like himself out of the house and to the big screen. It’s something that has been lost these past couple of years.

“The cinema definitely needed a boost. It needed a strong performance. A reason for people to go to the theaters,” Walsh said.


Barbenheimer: Both films bullseye their target audiences

By Editor-in-Chief Cole Daily

Both “Oppenheimer” and “Barbie” did a very good job of reaching their target audience. It’s part of the reason these films did so well.

“Oppenheimer” is a thriller that grabs ahold of the viewer’s attention during almost all three hours of the film. The opening scene is one of my favorites of all time.

Flames drift across the screen, like a sea of red illuminating the theater. Then a quote appears from the Greek myth of Prometheus.

“Prometheus stole fire from the gods and gave it to man. For this he was chained to a rock and tortured for eternity.”

The movie holds the viewer in a chokehold and doesn’t let go until the bomb is dropped on the Trinity Test site.

This scene is the culmination of everything in the film. In a cinematic experience where settings change within the span of seconds and music fills the background of each and every scene; finally the bomb drops.

And it’s quiet.

Its silence helps the viewer grasp the full weight of what has happened. They have created something that can destroy the world.

The film then proposes a question to the viewer; was this morally justified? Should they have done this? The remainder of the movie forces the audience to answer these questions for themselves.

My only problems involve parts of the film I mentioned above. It improves the gravity of the bomb-dropping scene, but this movie simply has too much music in the background during almost all of the film.

It takes away the importance of other scenes when a conversation is going on, but highly amplified music can be heard at all times. In some movies, like “Uncut Gems”, this can work.

But for “Oppenheimer”, this simply falls flat. The rushed sense of the movie could be avoided if this film was only two hours and 15-30 minutes as opposed to the full three hour runtime.

Now, “Barbie” knows exactly what type of film it is, more so than “Oppenheimer.” Don’t get me wrong; “Oppenheimer” is the better film. However, “Barbie” satisfies its audience’s taste buds in a more effective way.

With a cast highlighted by Margot Robbie, Ryan Gosling, America Ferrera, Michael Cera, Will Ferrell and Kate McKinnon; this movie delivers on the promise to its viewers: it’s a well-made comedy that discusses women’s issues on a perfect tightrope between light-hearted and gut-wrenching.

This movie is not perfect. It has its flaws. This isn’t the masterpiece that “Oppenheimer” is trying to be. But because your expectations are lowered, you have so much fun watching the film that you forget about one bad scene or one awful line delivery.

There is a rumor this movie has too much of a liberal agenda. While it’s not hard to see where that may be coming from, this isn’t some “left-wing” propaganda movie like Ben Shapiro may claim.

While men say, “this is me” to movies like “Drive,” “Wolf of Wall Street” and others, I can see why this film resonates so much with women across the country.

As I said earlier, “Oppenheimer” is the better film. The cinematography, visuals and performances are essentially unrivaled compared to anything that has come out this year.

However, when it comes to expectations, “Barbie” fits the mold in a more effective way with its tone, writing and theme.


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