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Barbie: The Scene Everyone Mistook For CGI, But Was Shockingly Real

The details within Greta Gerwig's "Barbie" movie are, to put it bluntly, nothing short of spectacular. Even if you didn't love the movie, you have to admit that it looks absolutely incredible... and Gerwig and her creative team made real movie magic by crafting real sets out of thin air instead of relying on special effects. According to writer Kyle Buchanan, one detail from the beginning of the movie was practical... and not computer-generated.

"One of my favorite BARBIE details is they actually built these legs, it's not a CGI effect," Buchanan tweeted. "'They're real — we scaled up Margot's legs and made them,' production designer Sarah Greenwood told me. 'They were physically on that set so the little girls could come in and touch them.'"

Buchanan and Greenwood are, of course, talking about the film's opening, where little girls are confronted with an enormous Barbie doll (played by Margot Robbie) which encourages them to destroy their baby dolls and play with a toy that broadens their horizons. An audacious homage to Stanley Kubrick's "2001: A Space Odyssey," the scene perfectly sets the tone for Gerwig's irreverent film... and it's pretty incredible that the little girls on set could actually interact with a giant pair of fake legs when they "discover" Barbie.

The set of Barbie was practical and tactile

Barbie's giant legs certainly weren't the only practical effects in "Barbie." In the pink utopia of Barbie Land, every single set you see is a practical set made for the movie, which allowed the actors to fully interact with their environment and truly feel like the plastic residents of Barbie Land. "To my mind, we were creating a toy," set decorator Katie Spencer told Vogue in a profile. "A toy is tactile, A toy is real. Everybody knows what's CGI. Your sixth sense will tell you—even children will know. So with the painted backdrops, it just gave everybody the belief that you are in the toy box, you are in there, you are a toy."

Greenwood, who also spoke to Vogue for the piece about "Barbie," pointed to one specific moment that happens shortly after we meet Robbie's "Stereotypical Barbie." After she gets ready for the day, Barbie zooms down a pink plastic slide, makes her way across a plastic pool, and heads to her kitchen to not actually eat her breakfast. "To me, it was always about Margot walking across the pool when she came down the slide," Greenwood said. "It's kind of godlike, isn't it? She walks on water. I just absolutely loved that."

Barbie was a truly daunting project for the production designers

Buchanan, who tweeted the legs tidbit, also spoke to Greenwood and Spencer for The New York Times about making Barbie, where they admitted that designing Gerwig's film was actually an enormous challenge. "It was one of the most difficult philosophical, intellectual, cerebral pieces of work we've ever done," Greenwood told Buchanan. "How can that be? It's 'Barbie.' But it really was."

"We all had to believe in it as much as if it was a space movie or period movie," Spencer agreed. "We had to research it as though it was set in 1780." As the designers said, neither of them really played with Barbies growing up, so this huge project required that they put a lot more time and effort into the finished product. If you've seen Barbie, though, you know their work paid off in spades. The film is a brightly hued visual feast, with each aspect of Barbie Land — from its completely open structure to the fact that everything is 23% smaller than Barbie, which is true of the dolls and their accessories — demanding your attention thanks to Spencer and Greenwood's creations.

"Barbie" — and its magnificent set design — is in theaters now.