Thirty years ago cartoonist Alison Bechdel came up with a simple test for movies to see whether women had a proper role. It's not significant of whether a film is great or not but you'd be amazed by how many films fail.

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  • Comment number 75. Posted by alice296

    on 2 Sept 2013 14:32

    I think Zero Dark Thirty is a brilliant example that passes the test well. Also interesting, given that it's a female director. I agree with what someone on this blog has said, about people failing to cast women in roles unless there is a reason why that character specifically needs to be female. In this instance, I can't remember any reason why Jennifer Ehle's character needed to be a woman - so it's refreshing that she was cast, regardless.

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  • Comment number 74. Posted by maruhkati

    on 22 Aug 2013 02:07

    The last film I can distinctly remember seeing that passed this test was the straight-to-Netflix family film/internet phenomenon "A Talking Cat!?!" which contains a scene in which a woman yells at her daughter about business school. It is also a profoundly dreadful film which stars a clearly drunk and disinterested Eric Roberts as the titular cat.

    This, of course, is evidence of what everyone acknowledges - that it's not a test of whether a film is good or not. The power of the Bechdel test, as the good Doctor has identified, comes from applying it to all films and finding how few films pass a test that really shouldn't be that hard to pass.

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  • Comment number 73. Posted by misterhutson

    on 19 Aug 2013 13:09

    volver

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  • Comment number 72. Posted by Gwendolen89

    on 17 Aug 2013 09:30

    Copycat has two great female characters played by Holly Hunter and Sigourney Weaver, and they have a number of conversations about the plot of the film/murders/etc. Admittedly though, they are discussing the killer on the loose, and he is a man... Hmmmm.

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  • Comment number 71. Posted by Ernie Stephenson

    on 29 Jul 2013 12:56

    "Sex Mission" must have a couple of conversations like that...?

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  • Comment number 70. Posted by D_A_I_S_Y

    on 25 Jul 2013 22:29

    I was reading post number 48, which complains about the fact that portrayals of violence by women towards men is ignored or trivialised - it seems to be saying that there is sexism out there perpetrated by women, but that this sexism is tolerated and that this is unfair. I would agree that this is problematic, but not because it shows a bias against males - in fact, the issue is that tolerance of any kind of bigotry including racism usually occurs in cases where the perpetrator of the bigotry is considered subordinate to the victim of the bigotry. Thus, females being sexist towards males is okay because females have less power than males (it's okay for the oppressed to mock or rail against their oppressor). We'll know when females and males have equal power when it becomes not okay for women to be sexist against men - the change in power balance has to occur first. Until then, we must acknowledge that women are still, in the 21st century, second-class citizens the world over.

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  • Comment number 69. Posted by Hackenbush

    on 25 Jul 2013 16:08

    What a sad and pathetic test but just off the top of my head here a films I'm fairly sure pass....

    3 Women.
    Come Back To The Five And Dime Jimmy Dean Jimmy Dean
    Theives Like Us.
    Short Cuts.
    The Player.
    Gosfort Park.
    A Wedding.
    Gentlemen Prefer Blondes.
    How To Marry a Millionaire.
    Steel Magnolias
    Magnolia.
    Johnny Guitar.
    Hush Hush Sweet Chariot.
    Whatever Happened to Baby Jane.
    The Misfits.
    The Big Chill.
    Monster.
    Nashville.
    Shadow of a Doubt.
    Marnie.
    Gone With The Wind.
    Bridesmaids.
    Little Foxes.
    How to Make an American Quilt.
    Blue is the Warmest Colour.
    Rear Window.
    A Town Like Alice.
    Annie Hall.
    Hannah and Her Sisters.
    A Midsummer Night's Sex Comedy.
    The Help.
    Hitchcock.
    Mama Mia.
    The Best Years of Our Lives.

    Sorry but I've lost interest.

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  • Comment number 68. Posted by edward1467

    on 24 Jul 2013 15:16

    I've just had a look through my DVD collection, this is over 300 movies. The good doctor is right, the number of movies that pass this test is depressingly small.

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  • Comment number 67. Posted by Cool Hand Smiley

    on 23 Jul 2013 19:23

    Mark, I've given this some thought now and there are not many films that spring to mind, which means I've either got limited awareness and knowledge of film or the film industry as a whole is prehistoric (probably a bit of both).

    I'm not sure if this film passes the test but I recently saw Zero Dark Thirty. I thought The women had strong roles in this film.

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  • Comment number 66. Posted by Elizmjo

    on 23 Jul 2013 10:21

    Three of my favourite women centered films pass. The Piano, Once Were Warriors and Whale Rider. Interestingly they're all from kiwi hands.

    It's also relevant when looking at roles for people of colour in Hollywood movies. Are there more than two people of colour in the movie? Do they have a conversation? And is that conversation about something else than a white person?

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