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5 Disney Movies That Pass The Bechdel Test (& 5 That Don't)

Disney may be famous for its princess movies, but not all of their stories share the same focus on female characters. The Bechdel Test is a measure of female interaction in movies, and requires that a movie contain the following: at least two female characters, that those characters have a conversation with each other, and that their conversation is about something other than a man. Sometimes, there is even an additional requirement that the two female characters are named.

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This list focuses on Disney's animated works only, and includes works from Disney's earliest days, as well as their most recent offerings. Although the Bechdel Test isn't a foolproof method for calculating the presence of women in movies, it does succeed in providing an overall look into a studio's patterns.

10 Pass: Raya and the Last Dragon (2021)

A movie that passes the test with flying colors, Raya and the Last Dragon focuses not only on the titular Raya, but has an ensemble cast full of other female characters. From dragon Sisu to Raya's rival Namaari, to Namaari's mother Virana, and infant troublemaker Little Noi, the story is full of women and girls who have conversations about everything from dragons and food to alliances and betrayal.

These female relationships anchor the movie, and whilst Raya wishes to save her father Chief Benja, the main focus is on Raya and her own heroic journey, with particular attention given to how she and Namaari begin learning to trust one another.

9 Fail: Aladdin (1992)

Though it is considered a Disney princess movie, Jasmine is the only female character in Aladdin that is part of the main cast. Her entire story revolves around being a love interest for Aladdin, or a desire of Jafar's, and though she has her own wishes, the only people she can talk to about them are men.

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Though Disney have taken steps to remedy this - namely in their 2019 live-action remake of Aladdin, where Jasmine's role is far larger - the animated version remains disappointing in its treatment of her, and definitively fails the test.

8 Pass: Cinderella (1950)

Perhaps surprisingly, in a movie so concerned with Prince Charming's affections, Cinderella passes the Bechdel Test. This is mainly thanks to the movie's conversations between some of Disney's worst siblings, Anastasia and Drizella, as well as with Lady Tremaine and Cinderella herself.

Even though their conversations about chores and new fashions are not the driving force of the plot, and Cinderella's character is perhaps meeker than some of her more modern counterparts, the female presence within the movie does help to balance out its focus on Prince Charming.

7 Fail: The Jungle Book (1967)

Mowgli's adventures in The Jungle Book may take him far and wide, encountering all kinds of animals and their societies, but what he's never able to find is a female character that talks. Though in the movie's opening sequence he is raised by mother-wolf Raksha, she remains silent, and the movie's only named female character.

Even later adaptations - such as Disney's 2016 live-action version of the story, which sees snake Kaa re-imagined as female - do not pass this test. Though it makes some sense that Mowgli's story is more male-focused, the imbalance of male and female animals in its jungle setting is glaring.

6 Pass: Sleeping Beauty (1959)

With its loveable trio of fairies some of Sleeping Beauty's best characters, Flora, Fauna, and Merryweather and their interactions with Aurora make this Disney classic an easy pass. With the villain Maleficent and Aurora's mother Queen Leah rounding out the cast, there are a number of plot threads that simply do not include the men of the film.

With Aurora asleep for a portion of the movie's run-time, its passing the test does not automatically mean its female representation is outstanding, but the actions of its female characters do drive the story. From Maleficent's curse to the fairy's arguments alerting the villain to Aurora's whereabouts, what they do has a real impact.

5 Fail: Luca (2021)

It may come as a surprise that Disney's most recent release through Pixar, Luca, fails the Bechdel Test. This is made even more obvious when Luca is compared to Raya, with the two films release dates coming only three months apart.

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Whilst it has more than two female characters, including 13-year-old main character Giulia, Luca's mother and grandmother, and two elderly women who live on Portorosso, their interactions come only via the movie's male characters. Whilst this is disappointing, it is worth noting that Giulia has her own motivations and ambitions in the movie, which she had before ever meeting Luca and Alberto.

4 Pass: Tangled (2010)

 

Tangled may only have a few female characters, including Rapunzel herself and underrated Disney villain Mother Gothel, but the pair interact frequently, and although they do spend some of their conversations discussing Flynn Rider, they also talk about the supposed dangers of the outside world, and later about the lies that Mother Gothel has told Rapunzel, and the secrets she has kept.

Rapunzel and Mother Gothel have a complex relationship, which affects 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. That being said, though, it seems a missed opportunity that the movie's many thugs were all men.

3 Fail: Big Hero 6 (2014)

Although Big Hero 6 has three significant female characters, heroes Honey Lemon and Go Go, as well as Hiro's aunt and guardian Cass, they hardly converse with one another, instead spending most of their time on-screen talking to protagonist Hiro.

Honey Lemon and Go Go's one exchange of words in the entire movie concerns the male villain, meaning it doesn't qualify as a pass for the test. Whilst the pair's small roles in the movie is disheartening, though, they have more recently made bigger appearances on Big Hero Six: The Series. It remains a shame, though, that their movie selves have such little screen-time.

2 Pass: Lilo & Stitch (2002)

There may not be princesses in this story, but Lilo & Stitch makes a refreshing change as a Disney movie that focuses on female characters without a tiara in sight. There are in fact  many ways that Lilo & Stitch broke the mold for Disney, with Lilo and her sister Nani's relationship being a major factor.

Nani and Lilo talk about many things, from serious arguments over Nani becoming Lilo's guardian to having fun at the beach. The pair's dynamic forms much of the movie's driving force and conflict, even before alien Stitch is introduced, and show the sisters in a notably nuanced way.

1 Fail: The Lion King (1994)

It may be one of Disney's best known and well-loved movies, but unfortunately when it comes to female representation The Lion King falls short. Though there are three female characters, lionesses Sarabi (Simba's mother) and Simba's best friend Nala, as well as hyena Shenzi, they are all outnumbered by their male counterparts, and do not interact with one another.

Whilst Nala does play an important role in the movie, from encouraging Simba as a cub to persuading him to return to their pride as adults, her character is only seen in relation to his, with her story existing only in order to further Simba's actions.

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