The Bechdel test, a joke but cool, says Alison Bechdel
5 July 2023
Devised in 1985 by American cartoonist Alison Bechdel, though Bechdel says a friend, Liz Wallace, thought of it, the Bechdel test has become a well-known metric by which to gauge a film. To pass the Bechdel test, a movie must meet the following requirements:
- Feature at least two women…*
- who talk to each other…
- about something other than a man
Think of the last movie you saw. Does it pass? I watched American filmmaker Kris Rey’s 2020 movie I Used to go Here the other night, which does. I last mentioned the Bechdel test when I wrote about a fanciful remake of 2001: A Space Odyssey, about eighteen months ago. While it could be argued the Stanley Kubrick made original passes the Bechdel, if only just, that didn’t appear to be the case for the “proposed” remake. At least, not based on the information available, that is.
It was a joke. I didn’t ever intend for it to be the real gauge it has become and it’s hard to keep talking about it over and over, but it’s kind of cool.
The Bechdel test isn’t only cool though, I think it’s an essential mechanism for filmmakers to work by.
* another provision states the featured women should be named.