Wednesday, June 2, 2010

hua mulan; or, on passing the bechdel test with only two women

Hey, so, maybe you're familiar with The Ballad of Hua Mulan. There have been many movie versions (good chance you've seen the Disney movie), but there was one that came out last year, starring Wei Zhao, that was pretty awesome.

Mulan is so fierce, she is one of my favourite women ever, though there is a lot of debate over whether or not she ever existed which I don't really want to get in to. But she ran off to war in her father's place, and she became a general, and she was fierce and awesome and I love her.

In the 2009 movie, she was particularly fierce. The movie spends so little time fretting about her hiding her identity and debating whether she'll go to war - the movie opens, she does it, and she moves on. It's all about her, her journey and her awesomeness and I have always considered her one of the greatest role models for women to come out of Chinese history/literature.

Anyway, in a movie about a woman who lives her life as a man in order to go away to war and fight, where the movie emphasises that bringing a woman in to the camp is death (just to highlight that there aren't going to be any other female characters hanging around), and that is all actiony and stuff, it still passes the Bechdel test. Yes, that's right, in a movie where there are only two female characters at all, they still have a conversation that is not about a man.1

And there's another version being considered (uh, in 3D). So maybe, I dunno, if a movie with only two women and lots of swords can pass the Bechdel test, maybe more movies could do so? OR SOMETHING.

1SPOILER SPOILER there may be some debate about this, given the end point of the conversation is Hua Mulan promising the princess that she can marry Wentai, but the ACTUAL point of the conversation is what can these two women do in order to bring peace to their warring factions, so I will defend this as not a conversation about a guy, it's a conversation about politics and warfare. END SPOILER

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