The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Calvary

The film Calvary gives a voice to those who have been abused by priests and makes a social commentary on how the general populace detaches itself from priest abuse stories.

The film tells the story of Father James who is confronted and threatened by one a parishioner who was abused by a priest and is told that he (Father James) will be killed on the following Sunday. After the death threat, Father James carries on his day-to-day life and continues to visit his parishioners as he counts down the awaited day.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

Calvary passes the Russo test but does not pass the Bechdel or race test.

There are two gay characters in Calvary, Inspector Stanton and Leo. Because neither of the characters are solely defined by their sexual orientation, and Inspector Stanton is important to the plot as he is the one that provides Father James with a gun, the film passes the Russo test. Calvary does not, however, pass the Bechdel or race test as named women only talk to each other once and men are mentioned, and non-White characters never talk to each other.

*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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