Who are we making films about and for?

September 7th, 2010 by Glendyn

I find this really fascinating…

It just blows my mind that most films don’t pass this very simple test.

1. Does the film has more than two women in it, that have names?

2. Do they talk to each other?

3. Do they talk to each other about something other than a man.

Its so simple but when you start going through the movies you love, adore and respect, very few will pass the test. There will be alot of films you think will or should pass, but they won’t.

Are our story telling conventions really that rigid and simplified that women can only participate structurally in the most basic of ways? I can think of very few films that pass this test. Thelma and Louise (maybe?), Kiarostami’s Ten, Im sure there are more, there has to be. It’s alot tougher than you think. Particularly the minute you even step near ‘mainstream’ cinema.

So, do you know any movies that pass The Bechdel Test?

UPDATE : Head over to www.bechdeltest.com for a comprehensive list of films which pass the test. Interestingly there is a lot of disagreement on what does and not pass with some movies on the list. It looks like alot of films at first, but when you take a closer look only films that have a ‘: )’ after them fully pass. There are some surprising results. Who would have thought Machete would have passed!?

10 Responses to “Who are we making films about and for?”

  1. Eddie White Says:

    wow… fascinating. I think ‘Ghost World’ passes the test… or does it?

  2. Shaun Says:

    Sex and the City?

  3. Glendyn Says:

    I was thinking it might. I havent really seen any Sex and the City. It would have to… ironic though. huh?

  4. Glendyn Says:

    I cant remember… there should be a bunch of films that pass… but there are very few. It’s weird don’t you think?

  5. Shaun Says:

    Really interesting once you start thinking about how completely innocuous films fail the test as well.

    I wonder how well books fare with the Bechdel Test.

    Great blog though, been meaning to send a message for a while!

  6. Paul Says:

    Kill Bill, Resident evil 3, Alien, Aliens(if you count Newt as a woman, not a little girl), Alien 4. That’s just off the top of my head. There’s probably a lot of horror movies that pass too.

    Some lesbian themed movies would pass too, but that would be a technicality I guess.

  7. Tristan Says:

    One of my all time favourite films – and favourite Australian film – ‘Bliss’ does pass this test…. thank goodness.

  8. Matt Day Says:


  9. Jonathan Says:

    Very interesting post, and undoubtedly most films are designed to be viewed by the ‘male gaze’, but I can’t help but think that the test is not quite iron-clad. If you reverse the questions, I think you’ll find that regularly in movies men talk to each other about women. It’s the nature of film — human relationships are the subject of just about every film in one regard or another.

    Having said that, it’s pretty clear that there are far more instances of males talking to each other about issues that don’t relate to women (e.g. every heist movie ever) and that there are regularly far more than two scenes per movie in which two men talk to each other.

  10. Jonathan Says:

    Also, regarding Sex and the city, that doesn’t get a pass because ALL they talk about is men… And in the most vapid, superficial, consumerist ways.

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