The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Woman in Gold

Woman in Gold is based on the true story of Maria, a Jewish woman who fled the Nazis, and decades later, fought against the Austrian government to reclaim her Gustav Klimt painting of her aunt which had been stolen by the Nazis and placed on display at a museum despite family wishes.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

Woman in Gold passes the Bechdel test but does not pass the Russo or race test.

The film passes the Bechdel as there are one to two instances where named women talk to each other without mentioning men – when Maria talks to Anna, an employee at an archive, and when Maria speaks to Louise during a flashback. The film does not pass the Russo or race test because there are no LGBTI or non-White characters.

*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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