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]] Star Wars: Episode I - The Phantom Menace (1999) [imdb]

This movie passed 3 of 3 tests. It was entered by Mara_Jade on 2010-01-26 22:37:35.



Mara_Jade said:
This movie has Padmé and her handmaidens and also Shmi, Anakins mother. Padmé talks to both her handmaidens and Shmi.
Message posted on 2010-01-26 22:37:35
monlynn said:
All conversations between women are carried out in a group with men present and also participating in them. But Padme's exchanges with other females are not focused on men or romance, so it just barely passes the test.
Message posted on 2010-06-16 16:49:52
Renee said:
That is a close-shave.
Message posted on 2010-06-17 09:12:26
Linhasxoc said:
Strictly speaking, the rules don't say men can't be present during the conversation, it just can't be about them. The conversation between Padmé and Shmi (with men participating) is about slavery and later podracing, so it passes.
Message posted on 2012-09-03 23:49:41
Ginny said:
This movie does pass the test, and it was interesting for me in that I thought the movie pointed up the limitations of the Bechdel test as a tool for evaluating sexist messaging and just how gender-worthy a story may actually be for those of us who are raising children in this culture.

I was unfavorably impressed by the girlish body language of a supposed queen in her handmaiden guise. I thought actor Portman conveyed a markedly weak character in the several scenes where Padmé repeatedly complains about the Jedi's plans and strategies, essentially whining her disapproval and then lolling about like a sulky teenager. Portman plays her several friendly conversations with Anakin as tenderly girlish as well. Other scenes do show her in a more powerful state though the elaborate royal dressage gives her an ornamental air at times.

And what's with the large blood-red spot on the queen’s lower lip? Subliminal domestic violence/ victimhood messaging? Combined with her often deadpan stare, I thought it gave her the look of an assault victim in shock. The only other association I have to that unfortunate makeup choice is the idea of “bloodthirsty” where blood is dripping down her lip from something she ate. But that interpretation scarcely jibes with the character’s concern for her people and girl-pal approach to Anakin.

It is also noteworthy that wonder-boy Anakin is seen with suspicion by the Jedi counsel because of some vague sense of "darkness" which is linked to his "fear" which as I recall is linked to losing his mother. Plus they keep complaining that he’s “old”—at the ripe old age of nine, I guess he’s had too much time with his mother to be very useful to the powerful males now? So while the boy is positively revered in this movie, the foreshadowing of his eventual transformation into villain is coded as mother connection = fear = weakness & loss = evil, a disempowering message for girls and women and also boys and men.

His mother Schmi in her role as slave and parent is strangely mute several times during interactions with Anakin and the Jedis. Surely part of his self-assurance and precocity is related to her good parenting and worthy character? Like mother like son? But no, we learn he was born mysteriously by "virgin birth" so presumably the weak and submissive mother Schmi has nothing at all to do with her child's remarkable character and accomplishments. Rather we are left to assume it was only "the Force" which was responsible for supplying that super-high mitichlorian count in Anakin's cells.

The bulk of the action still goes to the men and boys. The female roles are still largely devalued and subordinate to the male roles. And perhaps what disappoints is not merely a matter of “roles” but of the contempt for certain fundamental values that cut across gender lines.
Message posted on 2014-07-20 19:21:00
malte said:
@ginny: so you're essentially saying its a sexist movie, because the queen dares to act "girlish" (which by the way is a role amidala plays to cover up her actual royalty) and you dont like her makeup and the movie implies a boy living in slavery with his slave mother might not be in the best sorrounding?
seriosly, get a grip!
i dont mind feministic overinterpretation of movies in general, but don't gimme shit on padme amidala! she's clever and strong and adorable and totally badass. she was elected queen, when she was 14 and ROCKED it! she eats shady macho senators for breakfast, deals with terrorists an bountyhunters alike and she even got hidden blasters in her throne and a grapling hook! and she chose her path herself!
at least that's all true until she gets pregnant in epIII and becomes "pregnant-with-anakins-child"-only and dies when shes done with that. that really, totally sucks.
Message posted on 2014-07-24 00:00:43
Connor Behan said:
Exactly, the Queen is a badass. But was Shmi named in Episode I? I thought she was only named in credits / visual dictionary / Episode II. Same with Sabe.
Message posted on 2015-03-16 21:09:41
steelneena said:
@connor - Shmi is named on screen. Qui-Gon speaks to her by name several times in the film.
Message posted on 2015-12-02 23:52:06
Star said:
@ginny I'm sorry but something you said really bothers me and I have to address it, even though overall I mostly agree with your analysis. Amidala's formal wear and especially her makeup are based of Mongolian and Japanese traditional makeup that Lucas thought was striking and regal. Trying to make it about domestic violence is a stretch.
Message posted on 2024-03-31 06:23:03

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