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Barbie, Daughter of Ruth

Tiffany Shlain reaches back to the Pleistocene era to explain assimilation in America

by
Sara Ivry
December 20, 2005

Tiffany Shlain’s film The Tribe asks how the daughter of Polish-Jewish immigrants, a woman named Ruth Handler, came to invent the Barbie doll in 1959. It answers this question by sifting through thousands of years of Jewish history in 15 image- and fact-filled minutes.

The film falls somewhere between avant-garde video and public service announcement, drawing on 1960s archival footage, spoken-word poetry, and dry but clever narration from actor Peter Coyote. The Tribe will be in competition next month at Sundance.

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Sara Ivry is the host of Vox Tablet, Tablet Magazine’s weekly podcast. Follow her on Twitter @saraivry.

Sara Ivry is the host of Vox Tablet, Tablet Magazine’s weekly podcast. Follow her on Twitter@saraivry.

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