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Tea Time | 6 Movies That Pass The Bechdel Test

When we’re talking about female representation in media, only having one or a few female characters in movies tends not to be enough. Did you know it’s actually possible to measure the quality of that representation? We can do so through a series of tests and today we’re approaching one of them, the Bechdel Test. The parameters were created by Alison Bechdel in a comic strip she worked on in 1985. It’s very simple, to pass the test, a movie needs three basic requirements:

– It has to have at least two women in it

– They need to talk to each other

– They need to talk about something besides a man

Sounds easy, doesn’t it? You’d be surprised about the movies that don’t pass the test, like “ The Avengers”, “A Star is Born” and “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”. Don’t worry, though, those are still good movies. The Bechdel Test isn’t here to tell you which movies to watch or not, but rather to make you think about some frequent stereotypes and the role of women in the media. Do you want to know some of the films that do pass the test? We made a list!

The Hate U Give

Based on the book of the same name, by Angie Thomas, “The Hate U Give” tells the story of Starr Carter (Amandla Stenberg), a black teenager that is a part of two worlds, the poor neighborhood she lives with her family, and the fancy school she studies at. After witnessing her childhood best friend Khalil, who was unarmed, get shot and killed by a police officer, Starr is called to testify, since she’s the only one that can tell what happened that night. 

It’s pretty clear to see that “The Hate U Give” passes the Bechdel Test easily. That comes mostly from the fact that the objective of the movie is to follow Starr during her decision to testify or not. She needs to decide if she should honor her friend, and bring justice to this situation that is a pretty common occurrence in real life, or if she shouldn’t say anything, because this could put her life, her family, and her community in danger. 

Pitch Perfect

In this movie, Beca (Anna Kendrick) is a freshman at Barden University, and she was coaxed into joining the all-female acapella group, the Barden Bellas. “Pitch Perfect” is the first one out of a three-movie franchise, and all of them pass the Bechdel test. That stems from the fact that all the main characters are female, and they mostly talk about subjects revolving the Bellas, their lives and the future. 

The movie focuses on the friendships between the girls, and the strategies to win a campus competition against an all-boys group. Plus, they challenge the idea of masculinity and ridicule misogyny, while showcasing the strengths and individualities within every woman.

Spirited Away

“Spirited Away” is a classic Studio Ghibli animated film that tells the tale of Chihiro, a girl that discovers a entire new world during her family’s move to the suburbs. After getting lost, her parents go through a mysterious transformation, and Chihiro has to work in a bath house for the spirits, in order to free her parents from this curse. 

During the movie, she has various encounters with challenging situations and strange creatures, such as Gods, witches and, obviously, spirits. “Spirited Away” passes the Bechdel Test with flying colors, and maybe it’s because Chihiro is 10 years old, but almost none of the conversations that are had between her and another female character are about a male character. The entire film is about her mission to save her parents, and get back to the human world.

The Favourite

The Favourite has Olivia Colman in the role of Queen Anne, the sickly and frail english monarch who has little to no interest in governing. The movie approaches the royal court dynamics, so basically how everyone is trying to gain power and to stay in the Queen’s good graces. In this scenario, Sarah Churchill (Rachel Weisz) has risen to become one of the most powerful women in court, since she is a close friend, confidante, adviser and lover of the Queen’s. But her position is threatened when Abigail Hill (Emma Stone), Sarah’s cousin arrives looking for a job in the palace.

The characters are very well constructed, so much that we feel the viciousness that reigns free in royal courts. That becomes even more clear in the bizarre turns the story takes. But most importantly, this story features mostly women, and men play little to no role in it. This is a movie about power and that’s what the three main characters are bargaining with, as awful as they might seem to be.

Midsommar

Midsommar is Ari Aster’s latest horror film, starring Florence Pugh as Dani. The movie stands out as peculiar amongst the horror genre for using such a light palette of colors, but the characters and subtext is what actually caught the audience’s by surprise. The movie follows Dani as she travels to Sweden to attend a midsummer celebration with her boyfriend and friends after she experienced a tragic loss. Of course the celebration isn’t what they expected to be.

Dani’s relationship with the men in the movie is strenuous, to say the least. Her boyfriend Josh (William Jackson Harper) is emotionally distant and feels stuck in their relationship. His friend are no better, they seem to barely stand Dani and find her grieving to be a bother. Although, when faced with a completely different culture from theirs, Dani finally finds (specially in the women) a sense of belonging, of family and community.

Mad Max: Fury Road

“Mad Max: Fury Road”, the latest movie in the “Mad Max” franchise, is nothing like any other action movie. Set in a desert wasteland where gasoline and water are more precious than anything else, the 2015 post apocalyptic movie directed by George Miller brings back Max Rockatansky (this time played by Tom Hardy) as the reluctant and silent hero. But this time he isn’t the sole protagonist, the character shares that position with Charlize Theron’s Imperator Furiosa.

Furiosa’s mission is to free cult leader Immortan Joe’s (Hugh Keays-Byrne) wives and take them to a safe place. It’s by coincidence that Max is there to assist her, because this is definitely Furiosa’s movie, it’s her redemption journey that moves the whole story. Furiosa and the wives bonded over the fact that they were all slaves to Immortan Joe, the camaraderie between them is tangible. These characters aren’t there simply to look pretty for the male gaze, they are all individuals whose main goal is to be free.

Laura Okida

Casper Libero '21

Journalist. Music, series, books, pop culture, in no particular order.
Madalena Derzi

Casper Libero '21

100% believes aliens exist
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