The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: The Railway Man

The Railway Man told the story, based off of true events, of Eric Lomax (Colin Firth) who was tortured while a prisoner of war during World War II. Lomax ended up getting married many decades later, but because he had severe post-traumatic stress disorder his marriage was suffering. Sometime after he married, he discovered that his Japanese torturer was still alive. Lomax then went on a journey to confront his torturer.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

The Railway Man did not pass the Bechdel, Russo or race test. 

Women never talked to each other, and there were no LGBTI characters so it was impossible for The Railway Man to pass the Bechdel or Russo test.

As to the race test, even though there were several Japanese characters they never spoke to each other in English or subtitled Japanese so it cannot be known whether they referred to a White person in their conversations. Thus, the film did not pass the race test.

*The Bechdel test entails three requirements:
1. It has to have at least two (named) women in it
2. Who talk to each other
3. About something besides a man

*The Vito Russo test entails three requirements:
1. The film contains a character that is identifiably lesbian, gay, bisexual, intersex and/or transgender
2. The character must not be solely or predominately defined by her sexual orientation, gender identity and/or as being intersex
3.The character must be tied into the plot in such a way that her removal would have a significant effect

***The race or people of color (POC) test has three requirements:
1. It has two people of color in it
2. Who talk to each other
3. About something other than a White person

****Just because a film passes the Bechdel, Russo and race test does not mean that it is not sexist, heterosexist, racist and/or cissexist, etc. The Bechdel, Russo and race test is only a bare minimum qualifier for the representation of LGBTI individuals, women and people of color in film. The failure to pass these tests also does not identify whether the central character was a woman, a person of color or a LGBTQI individual and it does not dictate the quality of the film.

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