The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test: Far from the Madding Crowd

Based off of the novel, Far from the Madding Crowd tells the story of Bathsheba Everdene (Carey Milligan) an independent woman who gains an inheritance in the form of a farm and receives three proposals from three very different men; one from Gabriel Oak (Matthias Schoenaerts), a sheep farmer; another from William Boldwood (Michael Sheen), a rich neighbor; and a third from Frank Troy (Tom Sturridge), a Sergeant. However, despite receiving so many proposals, Miss Everdene is not so sure that she wants to marry any man as she already has wealth, so instead of placing her sole focus on the men who are interested in her, she works on her farm in order to make it into a success.

The Bechdel, Russo, and Race Test

Far from the Madding Crowd passes the Bechdel test but does not pass the Russo or race test.

There are three named women in Far from the Madding Crowd and there are one or two instances where named women talk to each other without mentioning men (e.g., Miss Everdene talks to Liddy [Jessica Barden] outside of the farmer’s market and tells her to act like she belongs there) so the film passes the Bechdel test.

As to the Russo and race test, Far from the Madding Crowd does not pass either test as there are no LGBTI or non-White characters in the film.

*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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