5 Disney Movies That Passed The Bechdel Test (And 5 That Didn’t)

Disney may be best known for its princesses movies, but not all of the studio’s stories share the same focus on female characters. The Bechdel test is a measure of female interaction in films, and requires that the film contain the following; At least two characters, that those characters are having a conversation with each other, and that their conversation is about something other than a guy. Sometimes there is also an additional requirement of naming the two female characters.

When exploring only Disney’s animated works, including works from the distant past and more recent shows, a picture emerges of the studio’s treatment of female characters. Although the Bechdel test is not a foolproof method for calculating the presence of women in films, it does succeed in providing an overview of studio patterns.

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Updated December 9, 2022 by Stacie Rook:

Disney’s latest animated feature, strange worldUnfortunately, it was a box office bomb for the studio (via ScreenRant), though that’s not to say the movie doesn’t have merit, as its characters and visuals have been praised (via Variety). With the LGBT main character, strange world is a step up for Disney in terms of acting, something the film world is still struggling with in multiple ways.

Films that pass the Bechdel test

Cinderella (1950)

Perhaps surprisingly, for a film so concerned with Prince Charming’s feelings, Cinderella Pass the Bechdel test. This is mainly thanks to conversations between some of the worst Disney siblings, Anastasia and Drizella, as well as with Lady Tremaine and Cinderella herself.

Related: 15 Disney/Pixar Movies That Deserve More Attention, According to Reddit

Although the ladies’ conversations about chores and new outfits aren’t the driving force of the plot, and Cinderella’s character is perhaps more modest than some of her more modern counterparts, the female presence within the film helps balance her focus on Prince Charming.

Raya and the Last Dragon (2021)

Raya and Sisso Among Leaves and Rain in Raya and the Last Dragon

A film that passes the test with flying colors, Raya and the last dragon It is one of the best Disney movies without Prince Charming. It not only focuses on the titular Raya, but has an ensemble full of other female characters. From the dragon Sesu to Raya’s rival Namaari, to Namaari’s mother Virana, and the feisty infant Little Noi, the story is full of women and girls who talk about everything from dragons and food to alliances and betrayal.

These female relationships anchor the film, and while Ria wishes to save her father, Chief Benga, the main focus is on Ria and her own heroic journey, with particular attention to how she and Namari begin to learn to trust each other again.

Sleeping Beauty (1959)

Philip takes Aurora's hands in the woods in Sleeping Beauty

With her lovable trio of fairies Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather, and their interactions with Aurora, Sleeping Beauty It is easy to pass the Bechdel test. Antagonist Maleficent is also given the entrance of an epic Disney villain, which means there are a number of plot threads that simply don’t involve the men of the movie.

Since Aurora is asleep for part of the movie’s runtime, the fact that the movie passed the audition doesn’t automatically mean its female acting is great, but the actions sleeping beauty The female characters drive the story. From Maleficent’s curse to the arguments of the fairies alerting the villain to Aurora’s whereabouts, what they do has real impact.

Tangled (2010)

Flynn and Rapunzel in a boat surrounded by lanterns at Tangled

tangled It may only have a few female characters, including Rapunzel and one of Disney’s most dangerous villains, Mother Gothel, but the pair interact frequently, and though they spend some of their conversations discussing Flynn Rider, they also talk about the supposed dangers of the world. the outer, and later about the lies Mother Gothel told Rapunzel, and the secrets she kept.

Rapunzel and Mother Gothel have a complex relationship that influences Rapunzel’s choices and motivations throughout the movie, and although the majority of the cast is male, these two have the most significant screen time. However, there seems to be a missed opportunity since many of the thugs in the movie were all men.

Lilo and Stitch (2002)

Lilo and Stitch hula dancing at the farmers market

There may be no princesses in Lilo and Stitch But the story is a refreshing change for Disney as a movie that focuses on female characters without a crown in sight. There are actually many ways Lilo and Stitch She broke the Disney mould, in which Lilo and her sister Nanny’s relationship was a major factor.

Nani and Lilo talk about many things, from arguing seriously about Nani becoming Lilo’s guardian to having fun on the beach. The pair’s dynamic makes up much of the film’s driving force and conflict, even before the antics of Stitch are introduced, and the sisters are shown in a remarkably nuanced way.

Movies that failed the Bechdel test

Aladdin (1992)

Aladdin and Jasmine ride the magic carpet in Aladdin

Although it is considered a Disney Princess movie, Jasmine is the only female character in it Aladdin This is part of the main cast. Her entire story revolves around her being a love interest for Aladdin, or an object of desire for Jafar, and although she has her own desires, the only men she can talk to are men.

Related: The 10 Funniest Animated Disney Princesses, RankedAlthough Disney has taken steps to address this – namely in its 2019 live-action remake Aladdinin which Jasmine’s role is much larger – the animated version remains disappointing in her treatment of her, and fails the test for good.

The Jungle Book (1967)

Mowgli, Baloo and Bagheera hiding behind the bushes in The Jungle Book 1967

Mowgli’s Adventures Jungle Book It may take him far, far away, and he encounters all kinds of animals and their societies, but what he never manages to find is a talking female figure. Although in the opening sequence of the film he is raised by the wolf mother Raksha, she remains mute, and is the only female character in the film.

Even later adaptations — such as Disney’s 2016 live-action version of the story, which sees the serpent Kaa reimagined as a female — don’t pass this test. Although it makes sense that Mowgli’s story would be more male-centric, the imbalance between male and female animals in the jungle setting is stark and bizarre.

Luca (2021)

Julia talks to Luca and Alberto talks to Luca

Considering how recently it was released, it’s shocking that Disney and Pixar have Luca It fails the Bechdel test, especially given that the film’s narrative is so focused on inclusion and acceptance.

Related: 10 Underrated Disney Movie Songs, According to RedditWhile it contains more than two characters, including the 13-year-old main character Julia, Luca’s mother and grandmother, and two older women living in Portoroso, their interactions are only brought about by the male characters in the film. Although this is disappointing, it is worth noting that Julia has her own motives and ambitions in the film, having previously met Luca and Alberto.

Big Hero 6 (2014)

Hiro flies with Baymax over the city in Big Hero 6.

despite Big Hero 6 It has three significant female characters, superheroes Honey Lemon and Go Go, as well as Hiro’s aunt and guardian Cass, who barely speak to each other, instead spending most of their screen time talking to protagonist Hiro.

The only exchange of words in “Honey Lemon and Go Go” concerns the male villain, implying that he is not eligible for the audition. When Big Hero 6 Characters are categorized by strength, Honey Lemon and Go Go appear as highly capable individuals, so their limited role in the story feels like an oversight. However, they do have a prominent place in Big Hero Six: The Series.

The Lion King (1994)

Simba and Nala look at their baby in Rafiki's arms in The Lion King

It may be one of the best known and loved Disney movies, but unfortunately when it comes to female representation the king lion fall short. Although there are three female characters, the lionesses Sarabi (Simba’s mother) and Nala, and the hyena Shenzi, they are outnumbered by their male counterparts and do not interact with each other.

While Nala plays an important role in the film, from cheering Simba up as a cub to convincing him to return to their pride as adults, her character is only seen in relation to him, with her story only existing in order to further Simba’s actions.

Next: 15 Disney movies that took an unexpected dark turn

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