Ryan Gosling and Margot Robbie in Barbie (2023) / Arnošt Navrátil and Miloslav Holub in Invention for Destruction (1958)

Ryan Gosling on visual effects in ‘Barbie’: “It looked a Karel Zeman movie”

Barbie is currently the #1 movie in the world as well as the Czech Republic (though Oppenheimer is close behind), where it was seen by more than 117,000 viewers over the weekend. Greta Gerwig‘s film has drawn particular praise for its sets, costumes, and visual effects.

Those effects are highlighted in a new behind-the-scenes featurette for Barbie that takes a look at the unique travel sequences in the movie that transition from Barbieland to the real world. These scenes were accomplished using practical effects, with the actors set against a series of cutout-like backdrops.

“The transition between Barbieland and the real world is a series of transportation vehicles that get us there,” says Barbie star Margot Robbie. “Kind of like this endless 2D tracking shot.”

“Every time we shot one of those transportation sequences it was the most satisfying thing to watch,” adds director Gerwig. “I set on wanting it to look like a diorama in the National History Museum.”

“None of it is CGI,” adds co-star Will Ferrell, who plays the CEO of Mattell in Barbie. “It’s as if you’re watching a play.”

But one Barbie actor had a pretty specific point of reference for the visual effects in the movie.

“It was using these old silent movie film techniques,” adds Ryan Gosling, who plays Ken in the movie. “It looked like a Karel Zeman movie.”

Zeman, of course, was a Czech director and special effects pioneer whose work influenced directors like Tim Burton and Terry Gilliam. The latter even made an updated version of Zeman’s 1962 film The Fabulous Barn Munchausen in 1989.

Gosling may have been exposed to Karel Zeman when he came to Prague two years back to shoot The Gray Man. According to Prague’s Karel Zeman Museum, the actor did indeed make a visit to the location back in 2021.

Ryan Gosling visited our museum with his family in 2021 during the filming of The Gray Man, so he is well acquainted with the work and life of Karel Zeman,” the Museum wrote on Facebook. “It’s beautiful to see inspiration across artists and eras, and even more beautiful when someone can recognize it.”

Lead image: Ryan Gosling and Margot Robbie in Barbie (2023) / Arnošt Navrátil and Miloslav Holub in Invention for Destruction (1958)


Jason Pirodsky

Jason Pirodsky

Jason Pirodsky has been writing about the Prague film scene and reviewing films in print and online media since 2005. A member of the Online Film Critics Society, you can also catch his musings on life in Prague at expats.cz and tips on mindfulness sourced from ancient principles at MaArtial.com.

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