Forget passing the Bechdel Test – some films don’t even make it to the “have a woman character” part.
BY ALEX LEADBEATER
JAN 28, 2017
One of the most popular ways to measure how well-balanced a film is in terms of gender representation is the Bechdel Test. Named after Alison Bechdel, the comic artist who created it, it features three simple classifications that surprisingly few movies meet: the movie has to have (1) at least two women in it, (2) who talk to each other, (3) about something besides a man. It’s not a perfect measure, but does work as a good metric to see how cinema in general is treating female characters; in 2016, over half of the year’s highest grossing films passed the test.
However, some movies don’t even get close to passing the first hurdle; they have no women characters at all. Normally it’s in period war movies or other isolated situations where historically only men would appear, but some examples are a little more egregious. Here are fifteen of the most striking cases.
To qualify for the list, a film has to have no named or speaking female roles – extras in crowd scenes or allusions to unseen women are allowed as they (if anything) highlight a missed opportunity.
Counting down from #15 to #1:
The Great Escape
My Dinner With Andre
12 Angry Men
All Is Lost
The Enemy Below
The Lord Of The Flies
Glengarry Glen Ross
Master And Commander: The Far Side Of The World
Lawrence Of Arabia
I’d probably vote for Lawrence of Arabia as the greatest movie of all time. Women have no lines in it, although they are allowed to ululate.
The top two are fairly gay.
I tried reading Moby Dick for the first time last week, but Melville’s facetious tone didn’t do anything for me.
I’m sure if I kept at it I’d figure out a lot about Melville’s influence on 20th Century authors. But then I got to the big gay part where the innkeeper of the Spouter Inn tells Ishmael there’s no room at the inn, unless he agrees to share a bed with a harpooner. Ishmael spends many pages obsessing over his upcoming harpooner bedmate that I skipped over. The next chapter begins:
Upon waking the next morning, I found Queequeg’s arm thrown over me in the most loving and affectionate manner. You had almost thought I had been his wife.