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

[[0]] Gravity (2013) [imdb]

This movie passed 0 of 3 tests. It was entered by NessieNos on 2013-10-02 04:03:22.



NessieNos said:
This movie only has three named characters (two of them male), and only two, a man and a woman, are significant to the story. But while it doesn't pass the test, the woman is the primary protagonist, and the story is largely about her working through a desperate situation. So in terms of portraying a nuanced, interesting, sympathetic woman rather than using women as props or backdrops, it beats out many 2013 films that do squeak by the test.
Message posted on 2013-10-02 04:03:22
Barbylon said:
Well, there was a woman commanding the shuttle arm, and they did "converse" about speeding up the arm to escape the debris. So I think it passes. But your comment is spot on, in this case, the capable, intelligent protagonist is a woman and does it well. Too bad the man "saves the day" at her lowest point after all.
Message posted on 2013-10-08 22:15:41
HMS1013 said:
It fails all three tests, but to be fair, it also fails the reverse Bechdel.
Message posted on 2013-10-09 02:35:29
Edward disagreed with the rating and said:
If the rules are bent slightly this film does pass the test. The captain of the space shuttle is a woman, and she and Sandra Bullock have a short conversation about some-or-other piece of space gear.
Message posted on 2013-10-09 11:45:23
James said:
Amazing movie. Fails the test. But duh, there are only two characters.

And the one male character is absent for long stretches. I couldn't call him a co-star. This is Bullock's story and Clooney is more like her Obi-Wan Kenobi.
Message posted on 2013-10-11 00:34:31
Mehal disagreed with the rating and said: could actually make a case that this movie is 1/3 or 3/3. The shuttle captain is a woman, and she is given a name (when Clooney sees her body). What I don't remember is if she and Bullock actually speak. I recall Bullock asking for help but don't remember if she was asking Kowalski, explorer, or Houston. If she was talking to explorer, then this would qualify as 3/3 (if we deem it a conversation).
Message posted on 2013-10-14 03:40:05
Eric Larson disagreed with the rating and said:
Ryan (Sandra Bullock's character) has a conversation with her deceased child. And they don't talk about how good-looking Clooney is!
Message posted on 2013-10-15 18:09:23
Vic said:
I agree with the rating, but only literally. I think it passes the purpose of the test with great ease.

I would also think that a movie should be judged on whether or not is passes the test for both genders. If it passes for one but not the other, then it should be said to fail for that respective test. If it doesn't pass either, then it should be undetermined and if it passes both, great!
Message posted on 2013-10-21 11:23:06
j66 said:
I came here to say this movie is a perfect example of a good, "woman-friendly" that fails the Bechdel.

However, if Ryan was speaking the woman we later saw in the Explorer, the movie passes. There was a conversation germane to the plot between two women that was not about a man.

(I don't see how a man saved the day, at all)
Message posted on 2013-10-25 23:11:08
Heath Beaver said:
Sandra Bullock and Amy Warren talk over the radio even if Warren isn't on screencast the time. Warren is the captain if the ship, and while I don't recall if she is ever technically called by name, she is certainly addressed as a specific person. Failing this movie on whether you hear her birth name as opposed to just "captain" is a stretch in my book, the spirit of the test is passed.
Message posted on 2013-10-31 13:55:59
androcles said:
I don't think that a man saves the day. Bulloch has all the knowledge necessary to save herself; her mind envisioning Clooney is only her way of remembering that.

And I agree with Vic, movies with so few characters don't really qualify for testing.
Message posted on 2013-11-04 04:11:41
Eric said:
This movie shows something I've always thought about the Bechdel Test - the fact that so few movies pass it is more informative than whether any <i>individual</i> movie passes it. The fact that Gravity, with a female protagonist overcoming adversity, does not pass, but Showgirls does is illustrative as to why you shouldn't use this test <i>by itself</i> as a proxy for a movie's gender-friendliness. It's just one piece of the puzzle, and sometimes, it doesn't fit in the puzzle at all.
Message posted on 2013-11-07 00:37:20
William Bell disagreed with the rating and said:
It does technically does pass the Bechdel test, if only because of a character that we only see once she's dead, and given the fact that the star is a woman and the movie seems woman friendly as someone said above, it deserves 3/3.
Message posted on 2013-11-07 22:10:46
Useless test said:
This movie is one of many examples that proves the Bechdel test to be severely lacking. Perhaps someone should figure out a more useful way to measure feminism in movies?
Message posted on 2013-11-10 20:33:34
chris m disagreed with the rating and said:
I think the comments on this movie show an unrecognized bias in everyone; that God is a man. If we assume that God is a woman it would pass the test, as she talks to God at one point about a subject that doesn't involve a man.
Message posted on 2013-11-14 19:23:49
neil said:
@chris m: Regardless whether you think of a god as male or female, it wasn't a character in this film. Even if it was a character, it didn't talk back, so there is no conversation.
Message posted on 2013-11-16 11:02:58
ellen said:
This movie is a disgrace to feminism. Not only does the cis, white brodude save the female, she continually cries and worries about everything instead of trying to keep her head level in the situation. Anyone who thinks this should pass the test is plain wrong.
Message posted on 2013-11-26 16:02:04
Jonathan said:
This site provides some interesting details, but essentially the Bechdel test is pass/fail. This film fails that test. Gravity was the ONLY film I watched this year that didn't pass the Bechdel test. I loved Gravity and am happy that I made the exception to watch this film. However I don't feel the need to defend this film. Not only did it fail the Bechdel test as most films do, but it also gave the main character a case of the NOT-GAYS which I was very disappointed in. It was the wrong decision to make this character in this film at this time in history not a lesbian. Also I disagree with some of the other comments here. I wish she would have completely lost her dignity and humanity -just completely lose all ego and rebuild. Then again I understand that the role already required and unbelievable amount of precision. Taking the character might not have been possible for any actor, and it might not have been bearable for an audience that was already stressed beyond belief.
Message posted on 2013-12-03 01:15:11
Jed disagreed with the rating and said:
For anyone wondering how many characters are in the movie, IMDB has a list:

I count two female characters (one with an explicit name, one with a title that she's referred to) and five male (three with explicit names, two with titles). (I'm not clear on what Janis Ahern did other than mocap, so I'm not sure how/whether to count her.)

So if you're using the version of the test that requires that characters be named, then a lot depends on whether you count a title as a name for the purposes of the test.
Message posted on 2014-01-02 18:59:44
Adrian Ogden disagreed with the rating and said:
In response to Ellen: No, the cis, white brodude does not save the female. Not to spoil a plotpoint, but you might want to rewatch that scene.

I wholeheartedly agree that this movie passes the spirit of the test, even if its circumstances mean it can't technically pass.
Message posted on 2014-01-06 00:13:32
christine disagreed with the rating and said:
First, to be fair, I've not seen the movie -- was uninterested, when I heard that Clooney was the older wiser guy and Bullock was the rookie -- and that she is essentially saved by Clooney, even after he's dead. (Cuz that's how powerful white men are!!)

That said... if you are still with me... there is another test I'd love all of you to apply to this film: The Finkbeiner Test, for women in science. Since Bullock's character is a scientist, the treatment of her in this movie might be best run through the Finkbeiner. Here are the seven elements:
Does the film emphasize:
The fact that she’s a woman (sexy astronaught underwear? maybe)
Her husband’s job
Her child-care arrangements (the single mom bit is important, right?)
How she nurtures her underlings
How she was taken aback by the competitiveness in her field
How she’s such a role model for other women
How she’s the “first woman to…”

So curious to hear what you all think.
Message posted on 2014-01-06 20:48:59
Oscar disagreed with the rating and said:
There was definitely a conversation between Ryan Stone and another woman involving Stone's repair job.

However, the added hurdle of both females being NAMED causes things to get murky, as I don't know if the woman she speaks to is the female captain Stone and Kowalski later find in the space shuttle later on, and Kowalski reports her name to mission control.

I guess it'd be kind of sketchy to pass the first part of the test if the only other named female to starts off as a corpse, but if the female voice talking to stone is indeed the Explorer Captain, then all three criteria have passed. I'll confirm when the DVD comes out.
Message posted on 2014-01-16 18:29:41
polaria said:
to christine:

Firstly, Bechdel test isn't about feminism or objectification. Its about gender bias in the form of whether the screenwriters or the directors even THINK about casting normal, day-to-day roles as females. You know, as people, without specific focus on their gender.

Finkbeiner test is more precise and in that the Gravity crashes. Basically the whole lead female role in the movie is, in one way or another, about "femaleness" of the character.
Message posted on 2014-01-24 20:55:43
Jones disagreed with the rating and said:
Here's the thing, you don't get to make movies in Hollywood unless they're commercially appealing to the masses, it's a business. The trick is to have your suspense, action, sympathetic characters, romance, conflict etc and wieve in your artistic themes to send out the message that is the real reason you want to tell the story. Gravity is an exploration of human grief and the struggle to overcome tragic loss. Whether female or male the human experience of grief is universal and it's the worst thing that can happen in our lifes. Men can be grieving and be comforted by women, or vice versa, it doesn't matter. That doesn't mean the person doing the comforting is stronger, it just means that they are not as crippled by grief at that particular moment in time as much as the other person, and are able to provide hope. Sandra represents a crippling struggle with grief and George represents hope, ultimately Sandra makes the decision to keep fighting, to muster all the strength she can to learn how to stand again, not George, who sacrifices himself because he believes that she can overcome this, but the only way is to do it by herself, and the fact that the filmmakers chose a female to take the lead on this one, and it is a commercially successful and great movie gives me hope for the ongoing struggle for equality in Hollywood.
Message posted on 2014-01-25 20:01:02
James said:
On the Finkbeiner Test, the movie doesn't emphasize Ryan's being a woman much. She is in her underwear twice as I recall, and part of her back story involves a dead child.

It is never brought up how significant it is that she's a woman doing science things.

Then again, there are only two major speaking roles in the whole movie, both characters are almost exclusively dealing with survival.
Message posted on 2014-01-26 02:53:37
Oscar disagreed with the rating and said:
Looking at the Finkbeiner test...
This movie honestly has nothing to do with her being a woman, as much as it has with somebody who has never been to space live out their worst space-related nightmare. It is mentioned that she has kids, but only to emphasize how scared she is and the effects of the pressure of the situation. This Story could easily have been told if Sandra Bullock and George Cloony reversed their roles, and it would not have made a difference. The idea of a woman being in space has nothing to do with the story, as opposed to a grossly underqualified person ending up alone in space when he/she should be surrounded by people that know what they are doing.
Message posted on 2014-02-10 16:47:55
Nick said:
I don't know about any name female character in the movie other than Bullock. However I'd like to disagree with many people's opinions that this is empowering to women. On the surface, it would appear that Bullock is fighting in her desperate situation, and working hard, problem solving, all on her lonesome. But as 'Oscar' points out, it would be the same story with Clooney and Bullock's roles reversed. I would like to point out the misogyny of the fact that Bullock's character can barely function without thinking of Clooney or having an apparition of him appear. Obviously she's thinking about her late friend and colleague who she could really use. But isn't it fishy that this girl is scared and shaky but then she remembers her strong, father-like, mega-male counterpart, and she can finally function.
Message posted on 2014-02-25 19:01:38
Andrew said:
@Barbylon I disagree that a "man saves the day".

When women or minorities are used as plot devices, such as the damsel in distress or the wise black sage, it invalidates their portrayal as real people with depth.

The part of the movie where Clooney "saves the day" it is clear Bullock is hallucinating and that he is a manifestation of her subconscious - he doesn't tell her what to do outright so much as reminds her what she ALREADY knows as the protagonist (about the landing rockets), due to her training.

@christine, the Finkbeiner test is debatable.

In one scene, she does stip from a bulky space suit to skivvies, but the purpose of the scene is to emphasize rebirth of her character right down to the oxygen tubes and pressure chamber taking on the roles of umbilical and womb.

Clooney's character does bring up her family, children, etc, and it's discussed, but in my opinion it's natural to the plot; his character is trying to keep bullock's focused on survival and out of shock. I feel it's more about establishing character humanity, rather than gender roles. They're tumbling through the most hostile environment humankind has ever breached, with a narrow window to return to safety - it makes sense to bring up things all humans would find value in surviving for. Interestingly, the tropes are generally averted by Bullock's character due to plot points I won't spoil, but long story short, it's not "oh that's cool you're an astronaut on the side, but you'll always be a mom first"

it's more "we've got to make it out of this, where do you call home, who's special to you worth fighting through this for"
Message posted on 2014-04-01 22:47:39
Rhaomi disagreed with the rating and said:
The rating is flatly wrong -- Gravity passes the Bechdel test. Bullock's Stone has this radio exchange with Explorer captain Evans (voices by Amy Warren):

Stone: Explorer, engage arm and pivot to cargo bay.
Evans: Stand by for arm maneuver.

It's not much, but in fairness the movie does have an extremely minimal cast.
Message posted on 2014-04-02 19:57:19
David Magritta said:
This film does not pass the test, even though this film is really focused on the female character.
The same goes for other films like "Edge of Tomorrow"
This indicates that this test means absolutely nothing.
Message posted on 2014-11-19 18:25:14
Harper said:
The essence of the Bechdel test is whether the character in the comic would see the movie.
You should divrge from the technical rule when the answer is this obvious.
Message posted on 2014-12-07 21:39:38
Gemi said:
@David Magritta

No, this indicates that this test means absolutely something... and that something is more actresses should star in movies (like "Gravity" and "Edge of Tomorrow") together w/o actors as co-stars. Replace George Clooney with an actress and Tom Cruise with an actress... both films would have passed this test.
Message posted on 2014-12-08 09:39:56
c said:
If George Clooney was replaced by a woman, the movie would easily pass the test. Problem solved! The issue is that Hollywood thinks that putting one woman in a film is enough. Well, it isn't. There could normally be 2 astronauts in space: Bullock and her more experienced female boss. It would pass the test and spare us the sexist jokes coming from Clooney's mouth.
Message posted on 2015-02-21 06:10:58
simplex disagreed with the rating and said:
Its pretty simple. The Bechtel-test is not applyable to Gravity. So...
Its not applyable to all movies.
Message posted on 2016-04-09 15:37:59
Lasivian said:
The rating under the Bechdel Test is correct. It fails. (Someone please make a fan version where the voice of Mission Control is a woman instead of a man and it passes. That's literally how little difference there is between pass/fail here. You only ever see two on-screen characters.)

Do we have fairness in hollywood? Not yet.

But when I think of strong females in action movies this movie comes up every time.
Message posted on 2019-12-02 22:09:39

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