Published on December 8th, 2015 | by Padraic Coffey

Will Star Wars: The Force Awakens pass the Bechdel Test? [VIDEO]

Star Wars: The Force Awakens, set to open globally on 18 December 2015, is one of the most eagerly anticipated films of recent memory. It not only features returning cast members of the original 1977-1983 trilogy such as Harrison Ford, Mark Hamill and Carrie Fisher, but also contemporary stars such as Domhnall Gleeson and Oscar-winner Lupita Nyong’o.

One question, which may not be on many people’s lips, is whether or not Star Wars: The Force Awakens will pass the Bechdel Test.

The Bechdel Test, named after US cartoonist Alison Bechdel, was coined to highlight the lack of speaking roles for women in cinema. In order to ‘pass’ the Bechdel Test a movie must fulfil two criteria.

(a) It must have two or more speaking parts for women, whose characters are named.
(b) Two of these named women characters must have a conversation about something which is not a man.

Though it may seem a relatively straightforward criteria to fulfil, the vast majority of Hollywood films fail to pass this test.

Indeed, in the original Star Wars trilogy, bar Carrie Fisher’s Princess Leia (who does not converse with any women characters), the overwhelming majority of speaking parts were given to men.

The YouTube channel of New York Magazine recently uploaded a video of all the speaking parts for women, bar Carrie Fisher, in the original trilogy. It’s a stunningly brief compilation, and though it may speak of the late Seventies and early Eighties in American cinema, few would disagree that a greater representation of women – who constitute half the world’s population – can only be a good thing for cinema in 2015.

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About the Author

Padraic Coffey is a freelance writer and film critic who currently lives in Vancouver, Canada. He has written for the Sunday Independent, Ireland's largest circulation newspaper, and Trinity College, Dublin, ranked in the top 100 best universities in the world by the QS World University Rankings in 2014. Additionally, his film criticism has appeared on Volta - Ireland's first VOD website - as well as sites such as Taste of Cinema, Film Jam and Head Stuff.



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