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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

Where Are the Women? Embrace of the Serpent

Where Are the Women? Embrace of the Serpent

Girls and women appear in this movie only in the background, only in a few scenes, and only in ways that have no bearing whatsoever on the plot or themes.

BASIC REPRESENTATION SCORE: 0

[no significant representation of girls/women]

FEMALE AGENCY/POWER/AUTHORITY SCORE: 0

[no significant representation of women in authority]

THE MALE GAZE SCORE: 0

[no issues]

GENDER/SEXUALITY SCORE: -5

-5
Is there a female character who is primarily defined by her emotional and/or sexual relationship with a man or men? [why this matters]

WILDCARD SCORE: -6

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

-1
Similar to the dead-mother problem [why this is an issue ] — though one that doesn’t quite rise to that level — here there is an absent wife of one of the male protagonists, far away in another country, to whom he writes letters that allow him to explain his state of mind without her actually being present as a character. His deep emotions about her and their relationship are also held up as an example of cultural differences with the Amazonian tribesman he is visiting… again, without her even being present.
-5
A few women appear in the background of several scenes, but only one woman has any dialogue, and then just one line that has nothing whatsoever to do with the story. This is especially galling because the film is thematically about aboriginal cultures and how much was crushed and outright lost by rapacious capitalism brought in by outsiders… and yet the female half of these cultures has no representation at all.

TOTAL SCORE: -11

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

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

BOTTOM LINE: Girls and women appear in this movie only in the background, only in a few scenes, and only in ways that have no bearing whatsoever on the plot or themes. Even though the film itself is about the loss of culture, of which women are naturally an enormous part.


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

NOTE: This is not a “review” of Embrace of the Serpent! 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 Embrace of the Serpent.

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

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