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]] Life of Brian (1979) [imdb]

This movie passed 3 of 3 tests. It was entered by Quouar on 2010-05-10 17:32:53.



Quouar said:
Even though the mother and Judith talk (briefly), they only talk about Brian.
Message posted on 2010-05-10 17:32:53
Robert said:
Surely we're not so narrow-minded as to restrict gender to anatomy. Stan/Loretta clearly states her desire to "be a woman." She and Judith converse as part of the PFJ's discussions. Specifically, they have an exchange about Stan/Loretta's gender identity, thereby satisfying the third criterion.
Message posted on 2011-11-15 05:44:22
Martin said:
I'm not sure if there's an official stand on transgender characters in regards to the bechdel test but I'd have to agree with Robert on this one. Loretta should count as a female character and her conversation with Judith about gender identity is enough to give this movie a pass.
Message posted on 2012-05-03 13:04:50
Caio said:
The movie clearly passes the test, since Judith and Loretta talk to each other about gender identity.
Message posted on 2014-02-04 15:45:00
neil (webmaster) said:
I've updated the rating from 2/3 to 3/3.
Message posted on 2014-02-05 15:58:45
Brian disagreed with the rating and said:
The movie does not clearly pass the test. The rating should be changed from 3/3 to 1/3.
It has atleast two [named] women (Judith, Mrs. Cohen), but they never talk to each other.
Judith talks about Brian to Mrs. Cohen (Brian's Mother), but Mrs. Cohen only talks to Brian.

Per "":
Mother: What have you been telling them?
Brian: Nothing, I only...
Mother: You're only making it worse for yourself.
Brian: Look, I can explain...
Mother's hand: [Slap]
Brian: Aih!
Judith: Let me explain, Mrs. Cohen! Your son is a born leader! Those people out there are following him because they believe in him, Mrs Cohen! They believe he can give them hope, hope of a new life, a new world, a better future!
Mother: Who's that!?
Brian: Oih! That's...Judith, Mom. Judith...mother.
Mother's hand against Brian's cheek: [Slap]
Brian: Aih!
Mother: Ooohr...

Stan never identifies himself as a woman (only that he wants to be a woman) and to call him Loretta. In fact, as Loretta, he says "It's my right as a man."
Judith identifies Loretta/Stan as a male while talking to each other by calling him "Stan".
Judith and Loretta talk to each other about gender identity. Almost any discussion of gender identity will necessitate talking about both males and females. This specific discussion mentions Stan (who was previously identified as a man).

Per "":
Rogers: Why are you always on about women, Stan?
Stan: I want to be one.
Reg: What?
Stan: I want to be a woman. From now on, I want you all to call me Loretta.
Reg: What?
Loretta: It's my right as a man.
Judith: Well, why do you want to be Loretta, Stan?
Loretta: I want to have babies.
Reg: You want to have babies?!
Loretta: It's every man's right to have babies if he wants them.
Reg: can't have babies!
Loretta: Don't you opress me!
Reg: I'm not opressing you, Stan. You haven't got a womb. Where is the fetus going to gestate? You're going to keep
it in a box?
Loretta: Sniff.
Judith: Here, I've got an idea. Suppose you agree that he can't actually have babies, not having a womb, which is
nobody's fault, not even the Romans', but that he can have the right to have babies.
Rogers: Good idea, Judith. We shall fight the oppressors for your right to have babies, brother. Sister! Sorry.
Message posted on 2015-07-15 22:54:16
PM disagreed with the rating and said:
the transgender thing is only there as a joke (an unwelcome one).
'desire to be' is a future tense assertion. by definition the character is AT PRESENT male.
Message posted on 2015-07-17 14:19:10
Momo disagreed with the rating and said:
Stan clearly says "I WANT to be a woman... It's my right as a MAN." How does that make him a woman in any way?
Message posted on 2018-03-15 23:27:24
Tricky Hippo said:
Loretta states that she identifies as a woman, and therefore should be treated as such. Her manner of expressing it being in the future tense is irrelevant; if she is a transgender woman, she does not have to transition to be respected as female. Reg referring to her as "Stan" is therefore using her deadname (she has already asked to be called Lorreta), and therefore cannot be used as evidence as to her gender. (We should respect her right to self-identify.)

As far as where the test stands on transgender characters- if a character is a trans woman, then they are a woman. Just like in real life. It's pretty simple, really.

Of course, there is a separate question as to whether the film- and Loretta- is good trans representation. (It isn't.) But it passes the Bechdel Test, because she is a woman, talking with another woman about gender identity. (And any reference to "Stan" therein is a reference to the name, not a separate person, because the character formerly known as Stan is a woman.)
Message posted on 2018-05-26 14:30:07
mat said:
This is a great thread!

The test requires an exchange a) between two women and b) about something other than a man. On a), Judith is a woman. Stan expresses his desire to be one, and puts a precise moment on his new identification: ‘from now on’. Hence before ‘from now on’ he is Stan (so no surprise that he says ‘I WANT to be a woman’), and after ‘from now on’ she is Loretta. This is perfectly reflected in the change of names in poster Brian’s script. The one element which blurs this shift is Loretta’s remark ‘It’s my right as a man’ which contains the (humorous) implicature ‘I am a man’. However I think we should see this as momentary inattention and of less consequence than the explicit announcement of a new gender identity and the instruction about the name change.

Since this comes as a complete surprise to the others, it is quite understandable that they don’t immediately switch to female pronouns and the name Loretta. Their persisting in using ‘Stan’ and ‘he’ doesn’t invalidate Stan’s new identification as Loretta. Moreover, Francis (not ‘Rogers’ as in poster Brian’s transcript) does finally come round to a female appellative in this scene, calling her ’sister’.

On b), there is a single moment in the discussion where Judith and Loretta have an exchange:
Judith: Well, why do you want to be Loretta, Stan?
Loretta: I want to have babies.
(The other time Judith speaks, she addresses Francis and Reg only, referring to Loretta in the third person.)
So, is this exchange ‘about a man’? No: the subject, grammatically and conceptually, is ‘you’, i.e. Loretta, and the reason for her gender identity. It is not ‘about Stan’.
Message posted on 2019-03-06 11:17:24
in this house we stan loretta said:
There's a third possibility in the case of the "It’s my right as a man" line besides the two forwarded so far (either that Loretta/Stan is asserting that they are a man even if they want to be a woman, or that Loretta is sure she is a woman but briefly misspoke) -- given that the film is at least in theory set in first-century Jerusalem, it may simply be that a woman legally has less rights than a man, perhaps even (in a darkly-humourous twist) the right to transition. So while it is legally permissible to transition from Stan to Loretta, thus reducing the panoply of civil rights available to her, it doesn't work the other way around.
Message posted on 2022-07-21 17:07:39
Brian disagreed with the rating and said:
I am the original author of above comment with the cited transcript.
Brian is my real name. My parents gave me the “Life of Brian" VHS as a joke on Christmas morning when I was about ten years old. Christmas night was awkward with my parents, since there was surprise full frontal nudity in a PG (before 1984) movie.
I appreciate the comments that followed. Especially, mat saying this is a great thread, since I think this is the most interesting thread on this Bechdel Test website and the only one I have felt the need to comment on.
Anyway, I think that the key section is:
Stan: I want to be a woman. [Stan desires to be a woman in the future, but still considers himself to be a man.] From now on, I want you all to call me Loretta. [Stan desires that the other characters refer to her as Loretta (I assume as a female) in the future, so the character is now a woman.]
Reg: What?
Loretta: It's my right as a man. [I assume Loretta still considers herself to me a woman, but is referring to her previous identity as a man giving her the right (ancient Roman law???) to have made that transition.]
Judith: Well, why do you want to be Loretta, Stan? [Judith is visibly confused by this situation. Judith is asking why Stan (a man) desires to be Loretta (a woman) in the future.]
Loretta: I want to have babies. [Loretta (as a woman) desires to have babies in the future.]
So, the question is: When a woman thinks she is talking to a man that is actually a woman and the woman talks back to her, does that count as two women who talk to each other? Similarly, if two women walk past each other and one says “Hello Sir" and the other says “Hello Madam", would that pass the test?
Technically, I think it could pass the test, but it is dubious.
The movie does not clearly pass the test. “This movie passed 3 of 3 tests.” should be changed to “This movie passed 3 of 3 tests (although dubious).”
Message posted on 2023-11-06 21:01:26

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