Let me start by saying I’m more than a little bit obsessed with the Bechdel Test. As I wrote back in August when Pacific Rim was released:
You all know the Bechdel Test for the role of women in film, right? Very simple three part test for the importance of women in a film:
- Are there at least two female characters with names
- Who talk with each other
- About something other than a man?
Problem with it is that virtually no films pass the test.
Among the movies that do not pass are several that have very strong women characters, including Pacific Rim.
This was brought to mind the other day when I went to see the new Sandra Bullock movie Gravity, which I went on about at length yesterday. Bullock and George Clooney are the only two actors who appear in the film, and there are five more characters (two with names) whose voices are heard but not seen.
So, it is immediately obvious that Gravity can’t pass the Bechdel Test as there is only one named female character in the movie. That said, Bullock is the only character in much of the movie. It is 100 percent her story. And she is an intensely involving character consumed with her own survival. In many ways, she’s the strongest female character in a science fiction movie (if you can call Gravity that) since Sigourney Weaver played Ellen Ripley in the Alien franchise.
What do you think? As great as the Bechdel Test is as a casual tool for analyzing the role of women in movies, does it miss a lot of movies that have really strong roles for women?