BASIC REPRESENTATION SCORE: -10
FEMALE AGENCY/POWER/AUTHORITY SCORE: +5
THE MALE GAZE SCORE: 0
GENDER/SEXUALITY SCORE: -5
WILDCARD SCORE: -5
Is there anything either positive or negative in the film’s representation of women not already accounted for here? (points will vary)
The 5 points that Keri Russell’s character gets for being a medic come right back off again, for a couple of reasons. First, it’s made explicit that while she used to work for the CDC, the CDC doesn’t exist anymore and exerts no authority, and whatever minor authority she might have as a doctor and scientifically minded person in this devolving society is extremely limited. This is highlighted when we see that she doesn’t even have the authority to insist upon joining Jason Clarke’s mission into the forest, to care for anyone who might get injured when they again encounter the angry apes. Clarke wants her to stay behind and watch over his teenaged son… and it’s only when the son insists on going along (and gets his way where Russell didn’t!) that she is permitted to join the mission. In the eyes of the male protagonist (Clarke), she is primarily a caregiver to his son (who isn’t even her son, though she clearly feels like she has adopted him), not the doctor to a community.
TOTAL SCORE: -15
IS THE FILM’S DIRECTOR FEMALE? No (does not impact scoring)
IS THE FILM’S SCREENWRITER FEMALE? Yes, one of three credited (Amanda Silver) (does not impact scoring)
BOTTOM LINE: Even in a story about the dwindling of humanity, with the population reduced to a tiny percentage of what it once was, women are all but absent except for token caregiver and mothering roles. Even among the chimps, the only female character — and she’s very insignificant — is Caesar’s partner, who is defined solely by her attachment to him as the mother of his children.
NOTE: This is not a “review” of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes! 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 Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.
See the full rating criteria. (Criteria that do not apply to this film have been deleted in this rating for maximum readability.)