Film, Opinion


What is it?

The Bechdel Test was first developed as a tongue in cheek look at female representation in cinema by Alison Bechdel in her comic strip, Dykes to Watch Out For. Since it first emerged in 1985, the test has become hugely influential. Whilst some deride the test as overly simplistic, there is no doubt that it does raise some interesting questions about how women are represented in cinema.

To pass the test, a film must have at least two named female characters, who speak to one another about something, ANYTHING, that isn’t a man.

Films which fail:


source: Pop Inquirer 

Creed – an example of how the test isn’t exactly extensive, Creed fails the Bechdel Test in spite of having an arguably very progressive female character in the form of Bianca (Tessa Thompson) . Bianca’s character rises far above the “girlfriend” stereotype so often found in sports films and is a great example of how Ryan Coogler has updated the Rocky franchise, with her character being fully formed and having her own life and dreams outside of her relationship with Creed (Michael B Jordan). So why does such a great film fail the test? Because Bianca is one of the few female characters, and she never has a conversation with any other females, meaning the film cannot fulfil the second requirement.


source: Wet Paint

Toy Story/Toy Story 2 – Even kids films aren’t safe! There is a real case for arguing that achieving equality in children’s films is actually the most important of all – they are what children are growing up consuming, and go a long way in forming opinions and perceptions. It may come as a surprise, but both Toy Story and Toy Story 2 fail the Bechdel Test. Whilst there are female characters in both films, they are massively outweighed by the male centric cast and they do not have any conversations with one another. Again, this doesn’t mean the films aren’t great – Jessie is a fantastic female character who debuts in the second film – but it is interesting that across two movies there aren’t any interactions between named female characters. However, it could be argued that Pixar took it on board, because they closed the trilogy in 2010 with Toy Story 3, which does technically pass the test.


source: Youtube

The Big Short – Adam McKay’s Oscar nominated film depicts the real life circumstances of a group of men in the run up to the 2008 housing mortgage crisis in the US. There are few female characters outwith some celebrity cameos from Margot Robbie and Selena Gomez, so it comes as little surprise that the film fails the test. Films based on true events are always interesting to talk about in relation to the test, as it highlights how gender inequality is an issue which impacts our society as a whole.

Why is it important?

The above films are just a very small slice of the hundreds and thousands of films which fail the test, giving a sense of how the representation of female characters is an issue which is widespread across almost all aspects of film, from animated children’s films to adult orientated content.

The Bechdel Test does have a place, even in just creating a dialogue about how women are represented in films.It should not be used as the only way of measuring gender issues in cinema, and a film failing the test clearly does not automatically make it a sexist film, but it does raise interesting questions about the ratio of men to women in cinema.

For instance, take the situation and apply it to male character – there aren’t many films which would fail the test. We live in a society where women make up 50% of the population, so why aren’t we seeing those proportions translated onscreen? The Bechdel Test provides a way to highlight this, and whilst a lot of the details may slip through the cracks in the process, it has merit in being able to do so.

What do you think of the Bechdel Test? Share your views in the comments section! 


Film, Opinion



1995 was a big year. I was born, Pierre Omidyar founded eBay and the DVD was invented. But one of the most notable events of the year (in terms of pop culture at least) was the release of Toy Story. The first ever wholly computer animated motion picture, Toy Story was a technological feat, and it made Pixar Animation Studios a household name.

The California based company have now produced no less than 16 films (including The Good Dinosaur, which is out in the UK today) and have revolutionised the industry several times over. For years Pixar were motored on, with an unprecedented hot streak that began with Toy Story and ended (arguably) with Toy Story 3 in 2010. In between these book ends audiences were graced with; A Bugs Life (1998), Toy Story 2 (1999), Monsters Inc (2001), Finding Nemo (2003), The Incredibles (2004), Cars (2006), Ratatouille (2007), Wall-E (2008) and Up (2009).

download2011 hit, and with it came Cars 2, for the first time raising some questions. Whilst the Toy Story sequels seemed necessary and resulted in one of the best movie trilogies of all time, Cars wasn’t a film that felt like it needed its world revisited. Brave, Pixar’s first fairytale the following year made it seem like the shine may have been starting to wear off the once untouchable studio, with Roger Ebert noting that it wasn’t the ‘groundbreaking’ stuff the studio were known for. Monsters University (2013) was a prequel, again raising eyebrows in spite of generally positive reviews.

Inside Out was a smash hit this Summer and was deemed a return to form for the studio known for its innovation, imagination and universal appeal. The jury is still out on The Good Dinosaur, which reportedly has been dogged a tough production, but early reviews have praised the animation over the apparently lacklustre plot. 2015 is the first year that the studio has released two films in one year, a feat it is set to repeat in 2017, and it seems that the two films represent the two reactions that Pixar films tend to be met with – critical adoration, or the realisation that they have failed to live up to the extremely high standards set by that 1995 – 2010 streak.

PicMonkey Collage

Looking ahead, Pixar have announced five films, bringing them up to 2019. Only one of them – Coco (2017) – is an original concept, with the other five all being sequels to previous films. Finding Dory is set to hit screens next year, with Cars 3 following in 2017, Toy Story 4 in 2018 and The Incredibles 2 the following year.

Is this worrying? As stated earlier in this post, Pixar are loved for their original animations, and it doesn’t look like originality is high on their list of priorities at the moment. Cars 3 doesn’t really make a lot of sense – Cars wasn’t even one of the best loved original concepts, and the sequel was the closest thing the studio has had to a critical failure, making it seem strange that they have decided to go back for a third try, though it’s probably down to the merchandising opportunities – Pixar are still a company trying to make big bucks after all.

Finding Dory and The Incredibles 2 are in risky territory, running the risk of tainting two beloved classics. It’s also going to have been over a decade since the originals were released by the time the sequels come out – are they going to be able to make these characters and stories relevant a second time around?

maxresdefaultThe most worrying of all, however, is the fact that they are going back to Toy Story for a fourth film. The original trilogy is the perfect example of Pixar – and animation – at its very best, with a saga perfectly balancing across three films and ending on a spectacular and emotional high. If Finding Dory and The Incredibles 2 are in risky territory, Toy Story 4 runs the risk of destroying the entire generations happy childhood memories (Ok probably not quite that bad, but you catch the gist). John Lasseter, Pixar legend and the director of the first two Toy Story films, is back at the helm, and we can only hope that he would only come back for a great story. He announced earlier this year that the film would focus on the romance between Woody and Bo Peep, who was absent from the third film. It’s all very vague so far, and whilst it could go either way it is going to be a hard one to get right. It will still make piles of money though – everyone is going to want to see if they have pulled it off. Very clever Pixar, but you are playing with fire.

Coco looks like it could be promising. Following the story of 12 year old Mexican boy Miguel, the film is based around the Day of the Dead festivities in Mexico. Lee Unkrich (Toy Story 3) is in the directors chair, and the Day of the Dead festival is a promising inspiration for some beautiful animation, so heres hoping that they can complete the magic triangle with a great story to match.

So, what does the future hold for Pixar? Right now, it looks like a lot of sequels, and the studio is going to have to work hard to keep its most beloved work sacred. The huge success of Inside Out earlier this year will hopefully inspire the studio to get back to doing what they do best – inspiring us all with stunning animation and original concepts.

Film, List


One of the best things about film is the fact that most movies, especially the best ones, are open to interpretation and have various different meanings. Some metaphors and theories are so well-known and talked about that they have become accepted as basically being the truth, such as the idea that Who Framed Roger Rabbit? is about segregation in the USA. Others are much less discussed and more unexpected, and here are five that I find to be the most surprising…


DragmetohellSam Riami’s 2009 outing was released to critical acclaim and it considered a return to the directors roots, with his early outings being the cult classic Evil Dead films. Despite this being the case, a surprising amount of people write the film off as being camp or un-scary, apparently forgetting the cult B-movie  appeal that Riami became known for in the first place. Drag Me To Hell tells the story of Christine Brown (Alison Loham), a young woman living and working in LA who has a curse put on her by a creepy gypsy woman Sylvia Ganush (Lorna Raver) which will see her being literally dragged to hell in three days. It all seems like something that could be taken at face value, but one more interesting interpretation of the film is that it us actually depicting a character being consumed by an eating disorder. There is actually quite a bit of evidence to support this idea throughout the film. There is very prominent fly imagery throughout the film, which holds heavy connotations with death and the decay of flesh. We see a picture of a younger Christine who is overweight, and an attack tends to take place whenever food is introduced on screen.  Any attacks or incidents that take place in Christine’s home always take place in the kitchen, and when the spirit that is harassing her is shown in shadow form it has pig hooves, again playing into the idea of Christine’s insecurities. The incidents that occur throughout the film are always related to the mouth or including vomit, again creating the idea that Christine is suffering from an eating disorder. Ganush shows many attributes of bulimia sufferers such as poor nails and rotting teeth. Christine is also never shown to eat throughout the film, and the time that she tries to she is attacked. This genuinely just scratches the surface of the idea, and Youtube and the internet is filled with much more detailed analysis of the film which lend even more credibility to this very interesting theory.


Toy_Story_3_posterI know, I know, how can a PIXAR film be about something as horrific as the holocaust in any way, shape or form? But there is no doubt that a lot of the parallels are there, and Pixar has made its name by providing beautiful animation with a range of deeper meanings which contributes to its universal appeal. Toy Story 3 saw the toys we had all come to know and love dealing with the fact that Andy is all grown up and going to college. The fact that the film came out in 2010 meant that the generation that grew up loving the first two movies (AKA me) were also growing up and therefore found it very difficult to control their emotions come the films end (if you didn’t cry you are heartless). All the misty eyed emotion that comes with viewing the film means you may not have noticed some of the distinct parallels the it holds with the treatment of Jews in the holocaust. One of the more on the nose references comes when Buzz Lightyear (Tim Allen) suggests that the toy gang hide in the attic to avoid being given away. This can be seen as a direct reference to the famous story of Anne Frank, a young Jewish girl who hid along with her family in an attic during the second world war, with her diaries becoming famous across the world following the end of the war. Looking at the narrative in a broader sense, we see the toys being taken away to Sunnyside Daycare. What seems like a utopia soon reveals itself to be a fascist dictatorship at the hands of Lotso-Huggin-Bear (Ned Beatty). This can be taken as a metaphor for the treatment of Jews and concentration camps during the Holocaust. It’s an interesting theory which gives a much deeper meaning to an already emotional film. I’m going to stop writing about it now, I think I have something in my eye…


Batman-Returns-batman-returns-14752890-655-492The second Batman film directed by Tim Burton, released in 1992, actually went so far as to ignite a debate about antisemitism regarding Danny DeVito’s performance as primary villain Penguin. The film sees Penguin introduced as a grotesque baby who is sent down the Gotham Zoo river in a basket by his wealthy parents, thus growing up within (adopted by?) the city sewers and eventually unveiling a plot to kill the first born in every Gotham family. This can be seen to directly parallel Exodus from the Bible – where Moses was sent down a river in a basket, adopted by the Pharaoh, with God later unleashing plagues which included the death of every first born child in Passover. The fact that Penguin, the films villain, is carrying out these actions is what led to the antisemitic accusations, as well as the arguments that DeVito’s character depicts many Jewish stereotypes. Howeve Wesley Srick, the (JEWISH) screenwriter of Batman Returns, was adamant that this was not the case and said he had made deliberate reference to Exodus/Passover in the script. Personally I thought that this reference seemed rather obvious once it was pointed out, and I can’t believe I hadn’t already made the connection in my mind on my own.

2 – THE GREY is about DEATH

The-GreyThe Grey was released in 2012, with the marketing material having a field day capitalising on Liam Neeson’s post Taken popularity as an action hero. The actual film turned out to be much more than an Alaskan based alpha-male/wolf action fest however, instead proving to be a sombre look at the nature of death. The film depicts the journey of oil-rig workers who are faced with trying to survive after a plane crash lands them right in the middle of a wolfpack (not The Hangover kind) death-zone. No matter what your take on the movie, The Grey does not make for comfortable viewing, and my interpretation is that this is because we live in a society where death is a major taboo, and it is therefore no wonder that when we are faced with a film that tackles the subject in such a head on matter we are bound to feel slightly awkward. In the film we see Neeson’s character Ottoway tell a mortally wounded casualty of the plane crash “you’re going to die”, and we see everyone else react in a mixture of shock, horror and discomfort that we the viewer are also experiencing. Looking deeper into the subtext however, and The Grey is really about the way in which people deal with death, and the fact that no matter how we handle it, it’s inevitable. The wolves represent death in this context, a constantly lurking presence that is ready to strike at any time. The film looks at three ways of dealing with death – running from it, accepting it, or fighting it. We see these played out in the actions of all the characters, some of whom desperately try to escape the wolves, whilst others such as Diaz sit down and accept what is coming to them. Then we have Ottoway, who isn’t going down without a fight (it is Liam Neeson, of course). As depressing as it may be, there is no doubt that The Grey is a surprisingly deep and interesting study of the way we as human beings deal with the inevitability of death.


TrumanshowThe Truman Show is a truly excellent 1998 film which starred Jim Carrey as the titular Truman. The film has a lot to say about the nature of reality, reality television and the whole ‘big brother’ concept, but it also draws some quite interesting parallels to the life of Buddha.

Both were raised in a life of comfort which they came to deduce was not a true reflection of real life – Buddha lived in the security and wealth of a palace whilst Truman was brought up in a manufactured ‘American Dream’ reality – which was constructed by a father or father figure. Both went on to gradually reject the environment in which they were raised, going on to pursue a path to enlightenment. It’s quite a cool idea, though it can be argued that the messages being put forward in The Truman Show are universal and can also be applied to other concepts such as Plato’s Cave Allegory.


I have to admit some of these are extremely grim, so to end on a happy note here is the barmy but interesting Pixar Theory, which creates a timeline which argues that ALL of the Pixar films exist within the same world. Some points are really stretching the material, but it is still a really inventive and fun theory. You can check it out below, let me know what you think in the comments section!: