Barbarian director Zach Cregger makes sure the film emphasizes the Detroit setting several times, and this is because it has a much deeper meaning than it appears. Most of the audience has concentrated on the main theme, which is emphasized by: Barbarianthe wild ending. While the themes of how harmful men can be toward women are at the forefront for a reason, it’s worth acknowledging that this movie set in Detroit is a commentary on some other big social issues.
While BarbarianThe ending of the film focuses on the characters, the setting itself also sends a message. Detroit has long been one of the most segregated cities in the United States and still is today. A very critical period in the history of segregation in Detroit was the 1980s, and it is no coincidence that Barbarian‘s flashback scenes take place there. In addition, Barbarian has a character named Andre who camps in one of the many abandoned buildings of the Detroit neighborhoods. By setting the film in Detroit, the film can start a conversation about both the issue of homelessness in Detroit and the long history of segregation in Detroit that affects the present.
How Detroit’s History Affects the Present of Barbarian’s Story
While BarbarianThe terrifying villain Frank is essential to the main problem, he also serves as a gateway to Detroit history. Many white families left Detroit in the 1980s because of policies surrounding segregation. Barbarian includes a scene where Frank speaks to his neighbor, who says he’s putting his house up for sale and leaving the neighborhood because it’s “going to hellThis is a clear reference to the fact that he is not happy with the increasingly diverse neighborhood. In addition, the film comments on the economic turmoil that resulted from the large number of people leaving the neighborhood. the neatly sorted, picturesque 80s houses with the Brightmoor neighborhood of today, where Tess stays in the lonely house that hasn’t been abandoned. It may be a scary setting for a movie, but Brightmoor only looks that way because of how it has been systematically and economically attacked for decades.
Andre is more important than his barbaric limited screen time suggests
The film also features Detroit’s abundance of abandoned homes and large population of unhoused people. Many viewers are focused on Keith’s death in Barbarian because he was a seemingly innocent man. However, Keith was still motivated by his attraction to Tess. He pressures her to stay in the same house overnight and even tries to get her to drink with him. Andre, on the other hand, is really the only man in the movie whose sole motivation is to protect Tess. He knows the danger lurking in the house and tries to get her away from it. It’s rare for movies to portray the out-of-home population in such a positive way, helping to cement the point that: Barbarian steers on the issue of homelessness in general. By humanizing this character, the film demonstrates that the out-of-home population needs and deserves appropriate housing, especially when there are clearly so many empty houses around.
If a prequel or sequel follows Barbarian, it is possible that these issues could be elaborated further, as they do not take up most of the story in this one. It’s clear that Zach Cregger has the ability to discuss multiple issues at once, even if that means not paying as much attention to the ideas of segregation and homelessness. Either way, these ideas are proof that: Barbarian is more than just a superficial film, but also one that deserves to be analyzed for its social commentary.
Next: What happened to Frank’s other victims in Barbarian?