Bechdel Test Movie List

/bech·del test/ n.
1. It has to have at least two [named] women in it
2. Who talk to each other
3. About something besides a man

[[3]] Inception (2010) [imdb]

This movie passed 3 of 3 tests (although dubious). It was entered by KatCox on 2010-07-13 15:21:23.

Reviews

Comments

KatCox said:
"Inception" is a male-heavy, action-packed film that to some extent objectifies women -- Marion Cotillard's "Mal" is basically a a dream projection who holds the key to saving or destroying Leonardo DiCaprio's "Cobb". She thus has no free will of her own in the story, and is, in fact, completely under the control of "Cobb's" subconscious. While Ellen Page's "Ariadne" and "Mal" have a brief conversation that's not about a man directly, it's about love ("being half of a whole"), which is why I'm giving this a "dubious" rating.
Message posted on 2010-07-13 15:21:23
Marina disagreed with the rating and said:
Yeah, I think I'd go beyond "dubious" and say it fails--both because Marion Cotillard's "character" is actually part of a male character's subconscious and because the (<10-second) conversation she has with Ellen Page's character is at least subtextually about the male character.
Message posted on 2010-07-18 00:30:34
Paul disagreed with the rating and said:
As much I would haved liked it to pass...( because Ellen Page's character is interesting, who controls the situation with Cobb rather like she's a puppeteer of a male) but it doesn't. It passes the first two( but like the poster said above me dubiously because Molly Cobb is a projection of Mr. Cobb) and definitly doesn't pass the 3rd, the limited interaction they had was directly related to Cobb. So, it is dubious.
Message posted on 2010-07-18 05:30:14
Laurel disagreed with the rating and said:
I think I disagree as well, for the reasons stated above. I know we can't speak more broadly, but if we could, I would add that this movie, while brilliantly executed, was very dull and conventional as far as plot goes. Male protagonist is held back by weaker female, he's strong she's weak, helper female assists him to win free, females only exist as reflections of or part of the Hero's Story - how often have we seen this? And how much more interesting the film would have been if Ariadne had been the protagonist. But of course we can't do that, because if a female is the protagonist then the movie has to be about love, children or buying shoes.
Message posted on 2010-07-21 07:13:20
Stephen disagreed with the rating and said:
yeah, the whole conversation is about how mal needs cobb in her life to feel whole. and that few seconds is basically the only female-to-female conversation in the ENTIRE movie. i'd call this one a pretty clear fail.
Message posted on 2010-07-22 19:20:55
Jont disagreed with the rating and said:
The movie had a male protagonist and it was about love and children. While shoes weren't mentioned, the movie did feature some sharp dressed guys.

But yes, I think this is still a fail.
Message posted on 2010-07-22 20:45:11
j h woodyatt said:
There is at least one reasonable interpretation of the film in which MAL is not actually subconscious projection of COBB, so let's not get too invested in the idea that MAL isn't really a female character. By any reasonable measure, she is a character in the story of the film. Even if you accept that her character is supposed to be just a "subconscious projection" of COBB, she is *still* a character in the film. This should not be in question. Kinda sad that this needs to be pointed out...
Message posted on 2010-07-22 23:33:15
RM said:
After watching the movie, I came to the conclusion that the whole movie is a dream. Since Cobb is in control the whole time, there is a very pointed and specific reason why there are only two women in the movie. Cobb is consumed in his grief for his wife, so she is the central figure in his dreams. Ariadne is merely another version of Mal, the one who is trying to save him instead of destroy him. There is merely no room for other females to be present in his dream, because she is the only one who matters.

If there is any argument to be taken up with where this movie falls short on the scale of feminism, it is why this movie was written with a man as the protagonist- not why there aren't more female characters and what they do or do not discuss.
Message posted on 2010-07-24 02:51:43
T disagreed with the rating and said:
I think it fails because the only substantial dialog between the 2 female characters are about Mal's and Cobb's love, hence subtextually about a man.

RM - that interpretation isn't the only possible one, and I hardly think it would be rendered incorrect because of more female characters. If there is room for Ariadne in his dream, there should be room for other females as well.
Message posted on 2010-07-25 15:01:31
Kelly said:
If Mal is his subconscious (which she wasn't because they were in limbo and she was one of the people that had visited so that was more her than any projection of her) then Ariadne is definitely a projection. It was all a dream~~~

I was pleased they didn't talk about him though. I was sure they would.
Message posted on 2010-07-27 13:42:09
JedA disagreed with the rating and said:
It was definitely not all a dream, that's a fringe interpretation. The ending scene *may* be a dream, but most of the movie was real (well, relatively speaking).

It fails the third test, but passes the first two. Mal is a character in the story with "her" own motives, regardless of whether she is a subconscious projection. However, Ariadne and Mal are indirectly discussing Cobb, so it fails test 3.

The film is unapologetically male-dominated like most of Chris Nolan's works (which are all masterpieces, by the way). And I don't have a problem with that. I think a movie can be justified in failing the test- Inception is simply a film with almost all male characters, and it is what it is. Whatever, there are films with mostly females as well. The REAL problem is more insidious- when we get these films with roughly equal gender ratios, and yet we notice that the women still don't *do* anything of note, or talk about anything other than the men and/or their relationships with said men. That's unfortunately a trend, and THAT is the problem that the Bechdel Test is meant to highlight. It's not meant to call out films like, say, Fight Club or The Shawshank Redemption (or even Inception) which are male-dominated upfront because that is how the story is envisioned and it makes sense that way.

I don't think it would have been more interesting had Ariadne been the protagonist as someone suggested. She is a fairly thin character- as everyone is aside from Cobb- and I don't know why you would suggest that except for the fact that she is the female of the group.
Message posted on 2010-07-29 03:19:26
JedA disagreed with the rating and said:
It was definitely not all a dream, that's a fringe interpretation. The ending scene *may* be a dream, but most of the movie was real (well, relatively speaking).

It fails the third test, but passes the first two. Mal is a character in the story with "her" own motives, regardless of whether she is a subconscious projection. However, Ariadne and Mal are indirectly discussing Cobb, so it fails test 3.

The film is unapologetically male-dominated like most of Chris Nolan's works (which are all masterpieces, by the way). And I don't have a problem with that. I think a movie can be justified in failing the test- Inception is simply a film with almost all male characters, and it is what it is. Whatever, there are films with mostly females as well. The REAL problem is more insidious- when we get these films with roughly equal gender ratios, and yet we notice that the women still don't *do* anything of note, or talk about anything other than the men and/or their relationships with said men. That's unfortunately a trend, and THAT is the problem that the Bechdel Test is meant to highlight. It's not meant to call out films like, say, Fight Club or The Shawshank Redemption (or even Inception) which are male-dominated upfront because that is how the story is envisioned and it makes sense that way.

I don't think it would have been more interesting had Ariadne been the protagonist as someone suggested. She is a fairly thin character- as everyone is aside from Cobb- and I don't know why you would suggest that except for the fact that she is the female of the group.
Message posted on 2010-07-29 03:44:06
TP said:
I actually agree with this rating. While there might have been an underlying subtext related to Cobb in Mal & Ariadne's interactions, there was at least one short interaction where he was never mentioned.

Considering that he was the connection point between the two women (and also the protagonist of both the movie and the dream), it was remarkable that Nolan managed to fit in a conversation where he was never directly or indirectly mentioned until he showed up in the basement.
Message posted on 2010-07-31 17:39:00
Tanya disagreed with the rating and said:
Although Mal and Ariadne have a conversation not about a male (a believe they were talking about the train), Mal is a projection of Cobb's subconscious, and not exactly...a woman per say, she's whatever Cobb perceives her to be. Therefor it fails. Plain and simple. Although, it was a pretty amazing movie otherwise. Just sayin.
Message posted on 2010-08-04 14:57:34
Charity disagreed with the rating and said:
No, the conversation about a train was DIRECTLY about Mal's relationship to Cobb and their plan to grow old together and stay together -- The one and only conversation between the two women in this film was definitely about a man (Cobb).

Mal did nothing throughout the film but try to get Cobb back (whether Cobb's projection of her was "realistic" or not is irrelevant, that's her only role in the film) and while Ariadne was more promising in some ways, she pretty much did nothing but provide a reflection for Cobb's story with his wife, a key in to understanding it. In a sense, she AND Mal were just reflections of Cobb's subconscious.

I was very disappointed that the only other women were 1) a flight attendant with pretty much no role (and god, what a stereotype -- MANY flight attendants are males, but the fact that this one was female was notable mostly because it was so damn rare to see a woman in this movie ) and 2) a "disguise" woman, a sexy mask one of the characters wore to distract a character.


While I enjoyed Inception a lot, I find it very depressing that Hollywood movies continue to be so strongly without both women AND minority characters.
Message posted on 2010-08-08 20:29:23
katy disagreed with the rating and said:
Not only are they in his subconcious when the two of them talk, but they are effectively talking about Mal's relationship with Cobb.

In my opinion, it fails.
Message posted on 2010-08-10 03:47:22
Yoren said:
Considering that one interpretation is that *every* character aside from Cobb is a projection, it's not really fair to discount his wife. For all intents and purposes she has her own motivations, and is a re-creation of her personality. To say that she is "not a character" is ludicrous. She's the second most important person in the film.

Even if you do discount the projection, his actual wife DOES appear in the film in extensive flashbacks. It passes the first test without question. In my opinion it passes the second test, though it fails the third.
Message posted on 2010-08-10 19:54:25
Shaun said:
"Why are you here?" That's enough to pass the third test. Ariadne was a trespasser into Mal's domain, and Mal confronted her over it. As for the other argument...

The point of the Bechdel test is to measure the presence of female CHARACTERS (and a few other criteria). It doesn't mean the film was a great movie, it doesn't mean the film was a great feminist movie.

Mal was a character in the movie, and she was a woman. That's it. That's all you need to pass the first test. It's a bit ridiculous when you're arguing about the subjective "reality" of a character in a movie, and it misses the point Mal herself was trying to make--how do you know this is real and she is false?
Message posted on 2010-08-18 03:48:58
Clio disagreed with the rating and said:
Mal and Ariadne are two different characters. The fact that one is a projection of Cobb is irrelevant. If you were reviewing Fight Club, would you refuse to count Brad Pitt's part as a character in the movie because he is just a projection of Ed Norton's character? This is moving into dangerous territory if characters in dreams cannot be counted as real characters. What about characters in fantasy sequences? What about characters in memories with dubious veracity? Let's keep this test basic and not split so many hairs.

This film contains two separate female characters, with individual names and identities, who talk to each other but about a man.
Message posted on 2010-09-11 16:05:53
entwashian disagreed with the rating and said:
There is one female character in the movie.
Message posted on 2010-09-26 08:03:56
terris disagreed with the rating and said:
My first interpretation of the movie was that Mal was indeed real and desperately trying to pull her husband out of his dream world. That would make Ariadne the projection but with this movie I'm equally satisfied with the many alternative ways of seeing the story.

All of that is besides the point, however, as masks or not a character that believes they are female and is perceived as female gets to be female in my book.

So with two female characters what did they talk about? I don't believe the interrogative "What are you doing here?" counts as a conversation as that places the bar pretty low. I would have to pass a film when a woman talks to a server about coffee. The other conversation definitely was about a man. So I would fail it.

There were strong women characters in this great movie. There weren't a lot of women. Some of the secondary characters could have been replaced by women to no detriment. The film isn't anti-women it's just unfortunately trapped in writing mainly male side characters for a movie aimed at a male audience.
Message posted on 2011-01-17 19:45:25
Ephiny disagreed with the rating and said:
I would probably have failed it as it's such a tenuous pass as to hardly count.

I did actually think this was a great film, just weirdly male-dominated for no apparent reason which I found a bit distracting and jarring. I tried to imagine it the other way round with the main character and all the supporting cast female and just a token young man in the 'Ariadne' role. But that would seem really odd, which is very telling in itself.

I think that's the thing about the Bechdel test, it's not saying that every film that fails is a bad film or would be better if it passed. More to point out just how many mainstream movies do fail without it being seen as anything unusual, and how strange it would seem to see one that failed the 'reverse' test. I actually can't think of a single movie where there isn't more than one man, or two men never talk to each other about something other than a woman. Not one.
Message posted on 2011-02-16 15:14:41
Steve said:
At worst, this is certainly a dubious-pass.

1. Two characters: Mal is a character. She's a woman and she's in the credits, and that ends the discussion. I don't remember anything in the Bechdel test excluding a named character in the credits because they may or may not have existed in the subjective physical reality of the film.

2. They talk.

3. They talk about love. Not men, not a man, not Cobb. A man is not required for there to be love. If you disqualify this on the grounds that Mal's love was born from Cobb, then you disqualify any conversation about a woman discovering that she's pregnant, being pregnant, or having a child.

By the rules, like it or not, it passes... dubiously.
Message posted on 2011-03-28 21:43:15
Brandon said:
Gotta agree with Steve here. We're getting into very dangerous territory if we're saying that this isn't a pass, albeit a dubious one.
Message posted on 2011-04-01 04:37:43
Metallicfire said:
Paprika passed without question, and that involved a character talking to her alter ego.
Message posted on 2011-05-27 02:48:31
Aubree said:
The film fails, but I'm afraid I can't see the lack of females in the film as unfortunate. But then again, I don't consider every major male character in film an insult. Ariadne was a very strong female character.
Message posted on 2011-12-21 01:21:04
Sean said:
MAL
I know who you are. What are you
doing here?
ARIADNE
I don't know. Trying to understand.
MAL
How could you understand? Do you
know what it is to be a lover? To
be half of a whole?
ARIADNE
No.
Mal moves slowly towards Ariadne...
MAL
I'll tell you a riddle. You're
waiting for a train. A train that
will take you far away. You know
where you hope this train will take
you, but you don't know for sure...
Mal glides around Ariadne, looking her over.
MAL
But... it doesn't matter. How can
it not matter to you where that
train will take you?

They are talking about the abstract concept of love, not a man. It's strongly influenced by a man but that doesn't matter.
Message posted on 2012-07-09 01:57:29
Miguel said:
In this mindscrew of a movie, its hard to say who's real and who's not. Simply put, this movie was all a dream.

If the Wizard of Oz can pass on the "all a dream" thing, then whether or not Mal and Adrienne were real is irrelevant as they were still characters. And if the post by Sean is 100% accurate, then it passes all 3 counts.
Message posted on 2012-08-16 12:03:24
Kelly said:
Cobb's daughter and grandmother have a conversation while he is on the phone with them. Debate resolved.
Message posted on 2012-11-09 03:20:54
Caroline disagreed with the rating and said:
People get too caught up on the technicalities of this test and forget about whether a movie actually was good for women or not. This movie was NOT good for women. The women barely spoke to each other, and it was about a man, and there were ONLY TWO OF THEM. Even if that passes the test, two women to like 15 men is not good.
Message posted on 2012-12-09 15:05:54
Heather disagreed with the rating and said:
I don't think Inception passes this particular test, but despite this, I think it is a film that treats women well. Ariadne could have been female or male and nothing would be different, and she's a strong character who is treated equally by the other characters.
Message posted on 2013-02-23 14:47:45
Katherine disagreed with the rating and said:
The conversation between the two female characters is about a male character, therefore the film sadly fails the test.
Message posted on 2013-07-06 14:50:22
Antonio disagreed with the rating and said:
They are talking about Cobb
Ad also, Mal is Cobb
Message posted on 2014-11-29 11:30:34

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