It’s time to put animated films to the test and find out which ones pass the Bechdel Test!
The Bechdel test has three requirements:
- at least two named women in the film
- that talk to each other
- about something other than a man
- Snow White and the Seven Dwarves:
There are two women, Snow White and the Evil Queen. They don’t talk until the very end of the film when the queen tricks our heroine into eating the fatal apple. The conversation, though, veers very closely towards what men want: “The little men are not here?” “Making pies? … It’s apple pies that make the men folks’ mouths water.”
So just barely, this one gets a yes.
There’s only one woman in this film, the Blue Fairy.
So by default, no.
There’s the crew of lady elephants that make fun of Dumbo and tell Jumbo (his mom) to unwrap him faster (when the stork brings him), but that’s not a conversation.
Devoid of two females that communicate.
A lot of Cinderella’s interactions with her stepmother and stepsisters can’t count as conversations since she’s mostly being ordered around. But we do have one kind interaction between Cinderella and her Fairy Godmother, plus the stepsisters bickering about music class, dresses, and how much they despise Cinderella. Disney has their first film that earns it’s passing grade. Cinderella gets a lot of criticism for its love story, but it’s important to note that Cinderella just wants a night off, to go to a party. She didn’t ask to meet the prince and fall in love, that was just a perk.
- Alice in Wonderland:
Alice doesn’t meet the Queen of Hearts until the end of the film, up until then everyone she met in Wonderland was male. When she meets the queen, their discussion consists mostly of Alice trying to keep her head.
- Peter Pan:
Wendy is the main female in this film and though her relationship with Tinkerbelle is shrouded in jealousy, they do have an exchange briefly in the beginning of the film, though it is not a direct conversation. Tink says something in her language and Wendy responds, “I think she’s lovely.” They, however, are talking to each other through Peter, so I can’t consider this a conversation. Tiger Lily has maybe only one line of dialogue, when she says “No,” to Hook. The only named female (cause we do have the mermaids) left is Mrs. Darling and she and Wendy have limited time together by nature of the story, but they talk in the beginning and again at the end.
So, kinda sorta, yes.
- Lady and the Tramp:
Lady is surrounded by men: her two friends Trusty and Jock, Tramp, and Jim Dear. Lady eventually meets another female dog, Peg, but their conversation revolves around Tramp and his past lovers. Finally, there’s Si and Am, the Siamese cat twins and they have a song about ruining Lady’s life, but that’s not a conversation.
- Sleeping Beauty:
Maleficent talks with the fairies—or more like mocks them towards the end. The fairies themselves talk a lot: for example, the argument they have over the color of Aurora’s dress, and their plans for Aurora’s surprise party. Aurora also talks to the fairies, but most of the time the fairies and Aurora spoke about the man she met in the woods and was forced to leave. If not for Maleficent and the fairies, this movie might not have passed.
- 101 Dalmatians:
Praise Cruella De Vil! When the puppies are born, she talks with Anita and their Nanny about the states of the puppies and when she can buy them. She does take jabs at Roger, but that’s not the whole of their conversation. Anita and Nanny also mourn the loss of their adorable puppies. [Does Nanny technically constitute as a named character?] Regardless, we have Cruella and Anita discussing the dogs.
- The Sword in the Stone:
I’ve never seen this movie from start to finish, but when I googled it, it came up as a fail.
- The Jungle Book:
No females, except wolf mommy and the girl meant to lure Mowgli into manhood. Tsk, tsk.
- The Aristocats:
We’ve got Duchess and one of her babies, Marie, that have no time to talk about men. They have way bigger things to worry about.
- Robin Hood:
I don’t remember Maid Marian and her friend talking about anything besides Robin Hood, but the internet is telling me this is a pass. Anyone have a reason it is? Till then I’m marking it,
- The Rescuers:
It’s been ages since I’ve seen this, but we have a female villain, female protagonist, and one of the Rescuers was female. There’s lots of female interaction going on here.
- The Fox and the Hound:
No two female characters.
- The Black Cauldron:
Similar to a few other films, I haven’t seen this either and googled it. It got a yes.
- Oliver and Company:
There is Jenny and Georgette, though they never speak to each other on account of one being human and the other a poodle.
- The Little Mermaid:
Ariel and Ursula are the only female characters (besides Ariel’s sisters but they are not significant, sadly) and they don’t have an actual conversation. Ursula manipulates Ariel via song and Poor Unfortunate Souls is more about Ursula’s view of things than it is about Ariel’s love interest. Because of the lack of a real conversation, this fails.
- Beauty and the Beast:
This is painful, but Belle only talks with Mrs. Potts and her closet about the Beast. Lumiere’s main squeeze informs Mrs. Potts that “There’s a girl in the castle!” but that’s not a real conversation. The only time Belle talks with Wardrobe about something other than the Beast is about what she’s going to wear and well… um… does Wardrobe count as a name? She never introduces herself that way and all the other main characters are not so obviously named after what object they are (Cogsworth, Lumiere, Chip, etc).
Jasmine is the only female character.
- The Lion King:
There’s a scene where Nala talks with her mom, briefly, but I don’t believe Nala’s mom has a name. Other than that, this a pretty male populated film.
Pocahontas and Nakoma mostly talk about men (“Your father’s back!,” “He is so handsome.”), but Pocahontas and Grandmother Willow talk about her dreams and her future.
- Hunchback of Notre Dame:
Esmeralda and that one lone gargoyle are the only female characters and they never interact.
(Not impressed, Disney)
Meg, Hera, Hercules’ adopted mom, and the Muses are the female characters of this film and while the Muses sing, telling us the story, that is not a conversation. Meg does not speak to another woman, same goes for Hera and the human woman that adopts Hercules.
Mulan certainly has conversations with the female family members in her life. She also speaks to the matchmaker. Unfortunately, these conversations are either about marriage or about her father.
Jane is the only human female character. Tarzan’s gorilla mom and his friend Terk are the only female gorillas we encounter and I believe their conversations revolve around Tarzan.
- The Emperor’s New Groove:
Yzma goes to visit Patcha’s family in an attempt to gain information about our favorite llama. The conversation is all about stalling Yzma from going after them and earlier in the film, the kids want to know why their dad isn’t home yet.
- Lilo & Stitch:
Our protagonists are two sisters and their conversations range in topics.
- Treasure Planet:
- Brother Bear:
Lacking female characters.
(I know, right?)
- The Princess and Frog:
I can’t recall if Tiana and Lottie discuss anything than kissing frogs and Lottie getting married, but Tiana and her mom talk about her dream of owning a restaurant.
Rapunzel and Mother Gothel’s manipulative relationship underpins this whole film.
(Rapunzel: We couldn’t get one other woman?)
- Wreck it Ralph:
Anna and Elsa don’t talk much, being separated for most of the film, but when they do it’s not always about Elsa telling Anna not to marry Hans. They talk about familial love and Anna tries to encourage Elsa to come home.
- Big Hero 6:
I haven’t seen this yet and I’m seeing yeses and noes online, so this will be an abstained for now.
It’s interesting to note how many films pass because of mainly MC/Villain interaction. Percentage that pass for this reason: 53% (Snow White, Alice in Wonderland, Tangled, Cinderella, The Rescuers, Sleeping Beauty, & 101 Dalmatians)
- The Prince of Egypt:
While getting points for diversity and having some impressive ladies, there are no actual conversations between them that don’t revolve around a man. There is a song, but that is not a conversation.
- The Road to El Dorado:
Chel is the only female character.
Fiona is the only female character, besides a dragon.
- Spirit Stallion of the Cimarron:
Rain is the only named female character.
Gloria is the only named female character.
- Kung Fu Panda:
Tigress and Viper are two named female characters, but one brief exchange does not count as a conversation.
- How to Train Your Dragon:
Astrid and Ruffnutt are two amazing female characters. They don’t talk much, but there are blips of back and forth between them.
- Rise of the Guardians:
Tooth is the only female character of merit.
- The Croods:
Haven’t seen this, but the internet says pass, though just marginally.
- Mr. Peabody and Mr. Sherman:
Haven’t seen this and the internet scathes it.
Haven’t seen this. Just barely passes according to the internet.
- Flushed Away:
Internet says no.
- Bee Movie:
Internet says no.
(Author’s Note: Yo Dreamworks is doing soooooo bad!)
- Over the Hedge:
Internet says no.
- Toy Story:
- A Bug’s Life:
- Toy Story 2:
- Monsters Inc.:
- Finding Nemo:
- The Incredibles:
Mrs. Incredible frequently tells Violet she’s in control and talks to the babysitter. However, the only time she has a real discussion of merit with another female character, it was with Edna and mostly over what her husband’s been up to. It passes on the strength of the family dynamic.
- Toy Story 3:
- Cars 2:
- Monsters University:
Man, Pixar, why. Why is there no place for women in your world?
Gifstrip’s post notes that Pixar has created some fantastic ladies, but there are far fewer female characters than male ones and these women don’t tend to have meaningful interactions with other women. Dory seems to be the only female fish in the ocean in Finding Nemo, while Bo Peep—Toy Story’s sole female toy—is cut from the second film with a single line of dialogue. Considering half of the population is female, why can’t Pixar populate its worlds with a bit more equality? [x]
Anastasia and her grandmother talk about their family.
- Ice Age:
Not a single female character.
Anne Hathaway is the only female character, besides Blue’s owner.
Queen Beyonce talks to MK briefly about the importance of protecting the pod. There’s also the young girl that adores Queen Beyonce and tells her mother she wants to be her (spoiler alert: she does!).
(skip to :50)
- Despicable Me:
Yes, our three children long for a family.
- Quest for Camelot:
Kaylee and her mother are the only female characters and thankfully they talk to each other.
- The Swan Princess:
Odette and Derek’s mother are the only female characters, besides Rothbart’s lackey, but neither of them speaks to each other.
The Bechdel Test is the not a perfect test, but it gives you an idea how what kind of roles are out there for women. It’s startling to see that a multitude of films don’t even have more than one female character! That’s just not an accurate representation of the world.
The Bechdel Test is also not an accurate representation of how feminist a film is, because films like Beauty and the Beast, Mulan, and Shrek do not pass the test.
Beauty features an MC that knows who she is and is unafraid to be that person. She loves books and she loves her father, characteristics that make her seem alien to the town. She refuses to marry a shallow and egotistical man that sees her as nothing more than a prize. She can see past an ugly exterior and even an ugly interior if that person is willing to change.
Mulan features a female warrior, but she ultimately defeats Shan-Yu not as a woman pretending to be a man, but as a woman. She uses her intelligence, fighting skills, and a traditionally feminine fan to save the day. The majority of her conversations with her family are around her father or about getting married. For this reason, Mulan does not pass, but it should not be looked down upon for this failing.
In Shrek we meet princess Fiona, a character that completely subverts the common princess mold we’ve seen. She’s pretty and dreaming of her happy ending, but she can’t sing, is a fighter, and ends the movie as an ogre.
Side note: It is 2014. There is one kind of feminism. The kind that wants equality for the sexes. Nothing else. First wave of feminism, second, etc they are all relative to the time period they were in. Today, for us, we’re in 2014 and feminism has one, simple definition: social, political, and economic equality between the sexes.
This site is not here to debate the meaning of feminism. This site operates with the above meaning of feminism.
What do you think? Do you agree with our ratings?