Barbie Is a Part-Time Princess

Did you know that Barbie has starred in almost 40 movies? Yesterday, I talked a little about remakes. Barbie has told so many different stories in so many different personas that some of them overlap. Instead of retelling the same stories, though, the writers have tried be as original as possible each time, even with up to three movies coming out every year since 2001. These movies are made up of all the things girls love--princesses, mermaids, fairies, magic, horses, etc. Barbie has portrayed the role of a princess over a dozen times! She plays a very active part in each story, so even if the CGI isn't perfect, parents can rest assured that it's a great influence on their young girls.

I've mentioned a couple of Barbie's movies in my "Swan Lake" and "Rapunzel" posts. It really is impressive how much original princess content Rainmaker Studio has come out with over the past decade and a half. Of the 37 current Barbie movies, Barbie has been a princess in roughly 13 of them. The ongoing collection began as way for Mattel to increase Barbie's popularity again, but it was not exactly made to compete with the Disney Princesses. Everyone knows there's no beating that property. Instead, Rainmaker focused on less common stories that have not been touched by Disney yet, like "The Nutcracker" and "The Twelve Dancing Princesses." I have to give them credit for originality. Only 5 of the 37 movies are sequels. The majority are new and creative stories, such as a fairy who can't fly, ballet slippers that turn dance into reality, and a princess who becomes a superhero. Even the movies that were inspired by pre-existing stories took great liberties with the details and were transformed into something new and unique.

Barbie has only played an actual superhero in 2015, but she has always had one particular superpower. which is the ability to be anything. Starting in 1959, Barbie has had an impressive resume with over 150 careers. With her endless skill set, no one would find her in the role of a damsel in distress very believable, which is why she takes on such an active role in all of her movies. Like a magical girl, she is always the "chosen one" for whatever special power may exist in the story, whether it's the power to defeat a villain, break a spell, or save her three sisters. Like in modern Disney films, princes play a very small role in Barbie's world if they exist in it all. From the very first movie, Barbie in the Nutcracker in 2001, Barbie was the one to break the curse on Prince Eric returning him to his human form, and she also turned out to be the legendary Sugar Plum Princess he was seeking. Little has changed since then. Barbie has continued to be the to save the day right up to the most recent movie, Barbie Video Game Hero, in which she defeated a virus within the virtual universe inside the video game she designed and programmed. This sends a very positive message to girls that they can do anything they put their mind to.

Though I loved seeing Barbie as a mermaid princess in Barbie in a Mermaid Tale and The Pearl Princess and as a fairy in Fairytopia and Mariposa, The Princess and the Pauper from 2004 remains my favorite of the collection so far. It was only the fourth movie in the series. One reason I enjoyed it so much is that it's one of the few musicals Barbie has done. I can't tell you how many times I've found myself singing "Free" or "I Am a Girl Like You" when it came out. It also had incredibly strong characters. Princess Anneliese did not feel generic in the slightest. They gave her unique personality traits for a princess, like her obsession with science, her inability to measure sleeves evenly, and close relationship with her cat, Serafina. Erika, the "pauper," was street smart, with some minor anxiety issues and a hidden talent for singing. The story was loosely based on "The Prince and the Pauper," but with enough differences to stand on its own. It was only the fourth Barbie movie, but it had much better animation than the three that preceded it. Rainmaker Studios got a little lazy with the CGI on some of the ones that came after it too. I also loved the costumes in this movie, especially Erika's dress. Everything about it was just awesome. If you've never seen a Barbie movie in your life, this is the one to see.

When the studio releasing one movie a year to three, they did begin to recycle ideas a bit, but not the point where they became nearly identical like the Disney remakes. In 2012, The Princess and the Popstar borrowed heavily from its 2004 predecessor, The Princess and the Pauper. It also contained two girls who discovered they had the same face and even recycled one of the songs, "To Be a Princess." Still, switching places with a popstar is very different from switching places with a pauper, so the movie was able to stand on its own, despite being somewhat less enjoyable. Three years later, Barbie Rock'n'Royals borrowed several story ideas from The Princess and the Popstar. The teaser for the next Barbie movie, Dolphin Magic, appears to be a sequel to both A Mermaid's Tale and The Great Puppy Adventure, which both already have sequels of their own. I guess you can only come up with so many new ideas when you have almost 40 movies under your belt.

Since 1959, Barbie has inspired girls to be anything they could imagine. Her ongoing series of movies that began in 2001 gave us new versions of fairy tales and fantasy stories in which capable women take charge and save the day. I love seeing all of Barbie's princess incarnations because she comes off as both feminine and powerful at the same time. Did you know that Barbie has her own vlog on YouTube? She acts just like a real millenial college girl in it, and it's a lot of fun. She signs off every video with the acronym, P.A.C.E., which means "Positive Attitude Changes Everything."


Ithaca said…
Barbie princesses must be my favorite, near the Disney ones. I have a soft spot, personally, for "Barbie princess charm school" (Who wouldn't want to apply? Plus the heroine turned out to be a princess by birth ) . The nice thing with the modern princesses (like Tori, Courtney...) was that they dressed very fairy-tale like, despite the modern setting (not like real- life present princesses, so).

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