The Bechdel Test was first introduced in 1985 in Alison Bechdel's comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For (see above). The comic strip entitled 'The Rule' featured an unnamed female character saying she would only watch a film if it satisfies 3 requirements. Those are:
1. The film has to have at least two women in it
2. The women have to talk to each other
3. The conversation they have has to be about something besides a man or men
Variants for the test have been mentioned, such as, the women characters have to be named and their conversations have to be longer than 60 seconds.
I also mentioned The Bechdel Test in another post last year when Empire magazine published a poll about the greatest film characters, which can be read HERE.
What made me think about the test lately, wasn't just about the Oscars and the rest of awards season or about just how many female screenwriters have written award nominated films or highly acclaimed film of late but aren't talked about, much, at all, BUT its also to do with an article on Indie Wire.
The article is about Swedish cinemas introducing a Bechdel Rating for the movie releases and the impact it had. The link to the article is HERE.The Guardian also covered the story back in 2013 HERE.
What has happened is that four cinemas in Sweden has introduced the rating. If the film passes the test, the three conditions, it is given an 'A' rating and it is featured on the poster. This was implemented so that audience was encouraged to 'think critically about the media that they're watching'.
The 'A' system was started and created by Ellen Tejle, the cinema director and programmer back in 2013 and since the success, it has grown to now 30 cinemas across the country. The Bechdel Test is also being taught in schools. It makes students aware of gender and racial diversity issues in films.
I find that the biggest achievements, apart from the test being included in eductaion is that the industry is changing too. Back in 2013, 30% of Swedish films passed the test but in 2015 the percentage went up to 80% of films passing in the test and earning the A rating, in just 2 years!
I have hopes that other countries (mainly the UK and US) will see the success of the system and bring it over. It shouldn't been seen a way to 'shame' a film but just make the audience aware. The audience cant take active interest or not, but the fact that the rating is there can and has proved to make a difference. I look forward to the day I see an A on a film poster in my local cinema.