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such a nasty woman | by maryann johanson

Where Are the Women? Bridge of Spies

Where Are the Women? Bridge of Spies

Would have scored better if it had eliminated its saintly supportive wife, even though that would have left the movie with barely any women at all.


Is there a woman who is mostly pretty awesome and perfect who is present to support a man improving himself? [why this matters]


[no significant representation of women in authority]


[no issues]


Is there a female character who is primarily defined by her emotional and/or sexual relationship with a man or men? [why this matters]


Is there anything either positive or negative in the film’s representation of women not already accounted for here? (points will vary)



IS THE FILM’S DIRECTOR FEMALE? No (does not impact scoring)

IS THE FILM’S SCREENWRITER FEMALE? No (does not impact scoring)

BOTTOM LINE: A good example of a film that would have scored better if it had eliminated a woman — in this case, its stock saintly supportive wife — even though that would have left the movie with no women of any standing at all. (There are a few other extremely minor female characters — including the male protagonist’s teen daughter, who doesn’t speak a single line of dialogue, and a few office secretaries who do nothing but answer phones and close doors — but they are all furniture, not characters.) The movie, though based on a true story, takes many liberties with the truth, so why not pretend that its male protagonist wasn’t married? The wife character serves no purpose whatsoever here except to nobly stand by him while he takes big risks, and then to be in awe of him once his journey is over. She barely has any screen time at all, so the movie wouldn’t be noticeably different without her. This is how bad women’s representation onscreen is, that often it’s better for a movie not to even bother trying to depict women at all.

Click here for the ongoing ranking of 2015’s films for female representation.

Click here for the ranking of 2015’s Oscar-nominated films for female representation.

NOTE: This is not a “review” of Bridge of Spies! It is simply an examination of how well or how poorly it represents women. (A movie that represents women well can still be a terrible film; a movie that represents women poorly can still be a great film.) Read my review of Bridge of Spies.

See the full rating criteria. (Criteria that do not apply to this film have been deleted in this rating for maximum readability.)

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where are the women

  • Danielm80

    Would have scored better if it had eliminated its saintly supportive wife, even though that would have left the movie with barely any women at all.

    That’s a really elegant way of summing up the movie. This film pretty much proves the rule that a great film can be a terrible representation of women.

    I think we were supposed to assume that the daughter was dating the junior lawyer. So she was in the movie to add tension to his scenes. This is not necessarily a point in the film’s favor.

  • I agree about the daughter’s connection to the junior lawyer. But it did not add tension to anything. It is utterly meaningless. She’s not even a character here.

  • Aggy

    I’m having a hard time finishing watching the movie because it’s all men.

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