While most enjoy films in a somewhat superficial and temporary way, many of us consider film and cinema to be a lifelong passion and pastime.
In a primarily male-led Hollywood, however, there exists a simple test to determine each film’s legitimacy. Created in 1985 by Alison Bechdel, she asks three simple questions about each film – each question must be answered in the positive to pass what has since been dubbed the Bechdel test:
Does the movie have at least two women in it with named characters?
If yes, do these characters speak to each other?
If yes, do they talk about something other than a man?
You may think this is a backward way of evaluating the legitimacy of a film’s credibility, but you’ll be surprised how many films fail these three basic requirements to pass the Bechdel test. For example:
- La La Land
- Lord of the Rings (1, 2, and 3!)
- Toy Story (1 and 2)
- The Avengers
- Avatar (highest grossing film of all time)
- Moonlight (winner of Best Picture 2017)
- Slumdog Millionaire (winner of Best Picture 2009)
Sadly, people need to look far and wide to find films that have two named female characters discuss literally anything other than a man. Well, we’ve managed to track down a few of the films that best fulfill all three requirements – without sacrificing quality or story.
This Disney film is responsible for every toddler singing Let It Be nonstop for a year. Even though the film only has two named female characters – Elsa and Anna – the two sisters have a strong relationship that dives deeper than just a boy that might get in the way.
This Rob Marshall-directed musical number stars Catherine Zeta-Jones, Renee Zellweger, and Richard Gere as three morally-questionable characters. The musical touches on themes such as murder, betrayal, dishonesty, and adultery – but at least the two leading characters talk about it!
Hidden Figures (2016)
The film chronicles the lives of Katherine Goble, Mary Jackson, and Dorothy Vaughn – three women who battled racism and sexism while working at NASA in the 1960s. Of course, these ladies had much more to discuss than a man – they were the ones responsible for sending one to the moon.
Kill Bill vol. 1 and vol. 2 (2003 and 2004)
No one can say that Quintin Tarantino can’t write a good script. As The Bride embarks on her revenge mission on those who tried to kill her, we see her meet and talk to all her past assassin colleagues. Even though we don’t hear her name until the second movie, there are plenty of compelling scenes between her and her past team.
Star Wars: The Last Jedi (2017)
After the events of The Force Awakens, Rey sets out to convince Luke to join her in the fight against Kylo Ren et al. The film has a plethora of female-led roles, and includes a scene of Princess (now General) Leia talking to Holdo about the impending war.
The satirical horror-comedy helped redefine the genre in the 1990s and was more progressive than some of its competitors. As they face a brutal death at the hands of the killer, female characters Sydney and her friend, Tatem, talk about personal things together and share sentiments more important than a boyfriend.
Black Swan (2010)
Darren Aronofsky knows how to make a scary film, and isn’t afraid to put women in the front and center of the action. In the psychological horror, Natalie Portman and Mila Kunis face off to achieve artistic perfection in a production of Swan Lake. The two characters discuss many things, including the stage production and their battle within it, but never about a man.
Wonder Woman (2017)
DC’s most successful film to date within its cinematic universe, Wonder Woman sees the women of Themyscira discuss battle tactics against the dark forces, with little mention of a man since they don’t exist. However, as soon as one arrives in the form of Chris Pine, Diana is quick to leave and follow him.
Lady Bird (2017)
Greta Gerwig’s directorial debut passes the Bechdel test from the very first scene. In one of the highest rated films of all time on Rotten Tomatoes, Lady Bird talks about college, culture, and life with her mother.