While these movies were released around the same time, there are some basic differences between each of them. One movie attempts to represent women in today's society, while the other attempts to recount the history of the atomic bomb and highlights the power struggle amongst men. Although one might question the compatibility of these movies, there are more similarities in their message than meets the superficial eye.
First, the Barbie Movie. This movie combined the experiences of both girlhood and being a woman by using an iconic symbol of childhood, the Barbie Doll. The beginning of the movie speaks to the inner child of all women, showing how Barbie wakes up, gets dressed, and lives her “perfect” life in the Barbie world. Whether girls relate to this depiction is left to the individual female viewer's interpretation. As time goes on, Barbie is introduced to the real world, where everything is not what the Barbie childhood predicted. She is shocked to see the lack of female representation compared to her life in Barbie Land. The movie shows how it feels to be a woman in today’s society with examples such as being catcalled in public and being seen in a purely physical way without any regard to individuality or emotion. Eventually, this disparity emboldens the women of Barbie Land, inspiring them to stand up for themselves. The movie also portrays how women can be effective leaders in politics and society in general. It shows that barbies (women) can be successful doctors, lawyers, or presidents. Overall, the movie spoke to women by emphasizing the importance of their representation despite society's tendencies to focus only on Barbie's “dream life”.
In contrast, Oppenheimer was a historical representation that focused on the details surrounding the development of the Atomic bomb. Robert Oppenheimer (played by Cillian Murphy) was historically seen as a traitor and a communist. The movie attempts to recreate the intensity and support from the US government in supporting a team of scientists led by Oppenheimer for the purpose of developing the atomic bomb to use against enemies in Europe. The movie starts by emphasizing Oppenheimer’s relationships, intelligence and his role as a professor at UC Berkeley, teaching theoretical physics. There were many dark areas of the movie, such as the depiction of death in creating an atomic bomb -- hearing screams, seeing skeletons with ash throughout barren land. In the end, the movie was amazing in showing the power struggle amongst nations and scientists (who happen to be all male).
In conclusion, the Barbie Movie and Oppenheimer are two very different movies but share a common theme of power struggles. One where representation in the daily work and play is distorted between men and women and another where representation is distorted amongst men seeking power and fame. Both movies had different approaches, one upbeat and empowering and the other dark and serious, to attempt to highlight power struggles and honest representation in today's society.