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10 surprising films that fail the feminist Bechdel test

Where are the women?

HAVE YOU HEARD of the Bechdel test?

No, it’s not a T.V cooking show where Mary Berry judges the best bechamel sauce for a lasagna, although that does sound like delicious competition I’d wana be a judge on.

Source: Mary Berry Cooks/Headline Publishing Group

The Bechdel test is a test to judges the gender equality of a film.

To pass the test, a film needs to meet 3 very simple criteria.

  1. It has at least 2 named women in it
  2. These women have a conversation with each other
  3. That topic is not about a man.

How hard can that be?

Well, surprisingly hard to manage it seems, with up to 50% of films failing the test.

Of course, people watch movies for the simple pleasure that the story brings. And, sure, maybe it’s not realistic to have female characters in historically accurate movies set on ships in the 18th century, such as 2003′s Master and Commander with Russell Crowe, which features zero females.

Source: Miramax Films

But if females are in the story, there’s no reason can’t they be involved in at least one conversation with each other.

Imagine how tedious it would be if half of all of the films you watched never had any men who were important enough to be named in them? Or if they did have semi-important male characters, but the only topics of conversation they had were about the women in their lives?

Source: giphy

The Bechdel test was designed by cartoonist Alison Bechdel in 1985.

Source: Alison Bechdel

The test has gained traction in recent years, but there’s still some big-name films that don’t meet the criteria.

Here’s 10 from the past 25 year that may surprise you.

1. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part II

Source: Warner Bros

Despite having an array of fierce and funny female characters, the last movie of the Harry Potter installments disappointingly doesn’t feature a single conversation between the women.

They exchange quips a few times, such as when Mrs. Weasley utters the iconic line of “Not my daughter, you bitch” to Bellatix as she protects Ginny.  But there’s no back-and-forth dialogue that actually amounts to a conversation.

2. Slumdog Millionaire

Source: Fox Searchlight Pictures

There’s only two named female characters in the whole of the 2008 Oscar winner of Best Picture: Jamal’s mother (who dies early on), and Jamal’s love interest.  Neither speak to each other or ever meet.

3. Moonlight

Source: A24

Another Best Picture Oscar winner that despite being groundbreaking in its representation of a gay black man, fails to have two women with names having one single teeny-tiny conversation about anything.

Literally, it can be about anything but a man! How is that hard to write?

4. La La Land

Source: Summit Entertainment

Emma Stone chills, sings, dances and colour-coordinates her outfits with her three gal pals, buuuut the friends themselves are never named.

 5. The entire ‘Lord of the Rings’ Trilogy

Source: New Line Cinema

The trilogy is over 10 hours long but Arwen (Liv Tyler), Eowyn (Miranda Otto) and Galadriel (Cate Blanchett), all strong female characters, do not meet even once. In fact, no two female characters actually even speak to each other.

Seriously? In 10 hours, not one interaction?

And this is despite the fact that Cate Blanchett is Liv Tyler’s grandmother in the film, so it would have been completely possible for them to schedule some sort of visit together to say goodbye in case Middle Earth went down in flames!

6. Toy Story 1 & 2

Source: Pixar

Toy Story is such a beloved film to so many, but it unfortunately doesn’t pass the test.

Thankfully, by Toy Story 3 Pixar had included a conversation between female characters that involved something other than men. Pixar’s record in general is pretty poor.

Despite being a children’s animation company, only 25% of the characters in it are female, only 4 out of 14 Pixar films pass the Bechdel test, and Brave is the only movie to have a female protagonist.

7. The Avengers

Source: Marvel Studios

Despite having two kickass female characters who are named, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) and Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) a.k.a. Black Widow, the two characters never interact to have a conversation. There’s a third named female character, Agent Maria Hill (Colbie Smulders), but she only directs orders to her staff and there’s no dialogue.

8. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider

Source: Paramount Pictures

The titular named Lara is the only named female in this movie.

It could have been so easy to write just ONE more female into the story. Doesn’t Lara need any friends?

9. Avatar

Source: 20th Century Fox

One of the biggest movies of the 21st century features no dialogue between two named female characters.

Director and Producer James Cameron first wrote the script in 1994 and it took a whole 15 years before the film was made and released. Couldn’t have used all that time to write in a conversation between two female characters that wasn’t Neytiri and her mother discussing Jake, about, I don’t know – like the fact that their whole planet was under threat of being destroyed?

10. Finding Nemo

Source: Pixar

Have you ever had someone comfort you after a break up by saying “There’s plenty more fish in the sea?”. Well, if you’re looking for a female fish in the sea you’d be hard pressed to find one in Nemo’s world. #ForeverAlone


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