Filipino Barbie fans flock to see fantasy film

Hundreds of Filipino Barbie fans dressed in pink expressed joy and relief Wednesday at the opening of the film about the famous doll that many had feared would be banned.

The fantasy-comedy movie drew intense scrutiny from censors over allegations that a brightly coloured world map drawing showed China’s claims to the South China Sea.

China claims almost the entire waterway despite rival claims from other Southeast Asian countries, including the Philippines and Vietnam.

Vietnam banned the film but — to the relief of Filipino Barbie fans — the Philippines’ Movie and Television Review and Classification Board (MTRCB) last week decided the child-like lines on the map did not depict the so-called nine-dash line that China uses to illustrate its claims, and gave it the green light.

“I was really hoping that they wouldn’t ban it or they would just cut the scene,” said Nicole Tolentino, 23, who has been a Barbie fan for 20 years and even crocheted a pink top to wear for a screening at a Manila cinema.

“But they didn’t really do anything with it,” she added.

Outside the theatre, excited fans milled around in fuchsia-tinted lighting, some posing for photos in a Barbie booth while others brought their own Barbie dolls to the screening.

Martina Santiago said she had been saddened at the possible banning of the film, which stars Margot Robbie as Barbie and Ryan Gosling as her boyfriend Ken.

“We had already prepared the outfit and everything… thankfully it pushed through,” she said.

The MTRCB had asked the Hollywood studio Warner Bros to blur the controversial lines “to avoid further misinterpretations”.

But AFP correspondents who watched the movie said the lines were clearly defined.

Not all Barbie fans approved.

“That’s the part I did not like… I wish it were cut,” said Margaux Pichay, 19, who otherwise thought the film was “very empowering”.

When asked for comment about Warner Bros’ failure to blur the lines, the MTRCB referred AFP to their July 12 statement in which they said “the map portrayed the route of the make-believe journey of Barbie from Barbie Land to the ‘real world’, as an integral part of the story.” — Agence France-Presse

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