Which Disney Princess movies pass the Bechdel test?

Disney-World-Orlando-Florida

Goofy, Donald Duck, Mickey and Minnie Mouse

Last week, I was visiting Orlando, Florida for the first time and of course I had to stop by Disney World. As soon as we landed in Magic Kingdom and weaved our way through Main Street, I needed some time soak in the atmosphere (and some sun) in front of Cinderella Castle. I’ve been to Disneyland a couple of times in Los Angeles, but there’s something about Cinderella Castle that feels so grand and magical.

All of a sudden, music starts coming from the castle, and Donald Duck and Goofy jump out. Talk about timing! We had just made it in time for the last show of the day.

I was a huge Disney Princess fan as a child. So when Aurora, Cinderella and Snow White made an appearance on stage, it was really a dream come true.

Disney-World-Cinderella-Castle-Show

Cinderella and Prince Charming, Aurora and Prince Phillip, Mickey and Minnie, Snow White and The Prince

But the more time I spent at Disney World, the more questions I had. We had passed by little girls who were wearing Princess dresses, and even a parlour where they could get a Princess makeover! What’s so appealing about the Princesses other than the fact that they all found true loves at the end of their story? What was it about them that I was, and these kids are attracted to?

I owned all the Disney Princess movies. The sole purpose of our VHS was for my Disney Princess tapes. And when I heard the recent news about the Bechdel test, it got me thinking: which Disney Princess movies would pass this test?

The Bechdel test is Sweden’s latest attempt to highlight sexism in cinema. Movies that pass the Bechdel test would receive an “A” letter grade. The test has 3 rules:

  1. There are two women with names in the film.
  2. They talk to each other at some point.
  3. They talk to each other about something other than a man.

Sounds simple enough right?

Wrong.

Much to my disappointment, there are a lot of popular Hollywood films that failed the test, including: Up, all but one of the Harry Potter movies, and Toy Story 1 and 2. If these kid-friendly movies failed the test, what would it mean for Disney princess movies, stories that are centered on a female character, to fail the test?

Fail:

Aladdin

  1. There are two women with names in the film.
    There’s only one woman in the film with a name – Jasmine.

The Little Mermaid

  1. There are two women with names in the film.
    Ariel, Ursula, Carlotta the maid, Ariel’s sisters (Attina, Aquata, Andrina, Adella, Arista and Alana)
  2. They talk to each other at some point.
    Ursula talks to Ariel
  3. They talk to each other about something other than a man.
    There has been much debate about this last point. Some say, “fails” because Ariel talks to Ursula, but the entire conversation is about her becoming human so she can get the Prince. Others disagree and say that Carlotta talks to Ariel about having been washed up from a shipwreck… but Ariel does not speak and only replies through body language in this scene. There’s also the argument about the song ‘Daughter’s of Triton’, which featuring the seven sisters; but the second line is “great father who loves us and named us well”. So I’ve concluded that the movie fails because of this last point.

Beauty and the Beast

  1. There are two women with names in the film.
    Belle, Mrs. Potts.
    There have also been some debates on whether this movie passes the Bechdel test. I argue that this movie fails on this first point because although Mrs. Potts was once a real life woman, she was not presented as one in the film. And obviously, objects should not count as woman.

Pass:

Cinderella

Mulan

Pocahontas

Sleeping Beauty

Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs

Pass: NEW! Disney princesses of the 21st century

Tangled

Tangled-Disney-Movie

The Princess and the Frog

Princess-and-the-Frog-Disney-Movie

Brave

Brave-Disney-Movie

I haven’t seen these new Disney princess movies, so I’m not that familiar with the plot lines or the princesses’ personalities. Although the rules of the Bechdel test leave a lot of room for interpretation, it is great to see that the Disney Princesses of the 21st century pass. Of course, there are still lots of criticism about the storylines, but it’s good start.

Sources:

http://www.buzzfeed.com/alisonvingiano/sweden-launches-a-feminist-movie-rating

http://disney-blog.com/2011/05/the-bechdel-test-and-disney-films/

Image sources:

http://ca.ign.com/articles/2012/11/14/brave-blu-ray-review

http://theimperfectavatar.com/2013/01/23/day-eleven-the-posh-princess-project-princess-rapunzel/tangled/

http://likeawhisper.wordpress.com/2009/12/13/the-princess-and-the-frog-a-movie-review/

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