When I analysed Forrest Gump (1994) I couldn't help noticing that no two named female characters ever spoke. In fact, no two women speak to each other until the end of the movie when Robin Wright--Tom Hank's love interest--exchanges two lines with her little boy's babysitter. The sitter is in the scene for less than half a minute before running out, and she is nameless. This is a movie that runs nearly 2 1/2 hours and the people the lead male loves best are his mother, played by Sally Field, and Wright. He talks about them throughout the movie. They talk very little. For a love story it is very one-sided. I'd be surprised if Field and Wright have as many as five percent of Hanks' lines. Moreover, it wouldn't have been difficult to put them in the same space and have them talk to each other; they lived in the same town and Jenny (Wright's character) was Hanks' only friend growing up.
Women's lack of voice in Forrest Gump did not stop it from winning the Oscar for best picture that year. Just like women's lack of voice in Braveheart (1995) and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), among others, did not stop them from winning the Oscar for best picture. In Braveheart women speak in a few scenes but never about something besides a man so it fails the Bechdel test (a test that serves as an indicator of the active presence of women in movies). In The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King no two women ever speak so it, too, fails the test. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) likely uses criteria to determine the winner of the best picture but women's voice and presence doesn't appear to be one of them. In both Braveheart and The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King the two lead females are love interests. Apparently, it is enough for AMPAS to have women be the object of men's attention. Having them speak--especially to each other--is rather secondary.
© 2018 Alline Cormier