The results leave a lot to be desired...
A film lecturer has ranked all of the Star Wars films, according to how much screen time is given to women.
Dr Rebecca Harrison, who teaches at the University of Glasgow, edited all appearances by male characters out of the films in order to determine the final ranking. She only “counted women with speaking parts because having the ability to say something and contribute to the story, and not serving as a visual object, is important.”
The 2017 film Star Wars: The Last Jedi comes out on top, with 43% of the overall screen time containing female characters.
Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope, ranks at the bottom, despite featuring Carrie Fisher’s iconic character Princess Leia. “If a woman with a speaking part is onscreen and not speaking, and neither is a man, I’ve kept the footage,”Dr Rebecca Harrison explained on her blog. “Consequently, you get a lot of reaction shots of Leia or Jyn not doing much but being the only character in the frame. When men are speaking and a woman is onscreen, I’ve made a value judgement about whether she’s central to the action (or not) at that moment in the story. Sadly, especially in Padme’s case, she’s quite often just kind of ‘there’. She really does get a rough deal.”
“While women’s screen time improves as the number of women’s speaking parts goes up, the films don’t necessarily get better over time—see the prequels—and even the sequels and spin-offs barely pass the Bechdel test because women characters often inhabit the screen with men,” she continues.
The Bechdel test is a simple test – named after the cartoonist Alison Bechdel – which asks if a work of fiction features at least two women who have a conversation about a subject other than a man. Originating as a joke in Bechdel’s 1985 comic strip Dykes To Watch Out For, the test has entered the mainstream in the last decade.
“The notion that women can have meaningful conversations with one another about something other than male characters is most apparent in The Last Jedi… but you can still count these exchanges on one hand,” Dr Harrison says.