Bechdel Test Movie List

/bech·del test/ n.
1. It has to have at least two [named] women in it
2. Who talk to each other
3. About something besides a man

[[0]] The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey (2012) [imdb]

This movie passed 0 of 3 tests. It was entered by mal on 2012-12-15 00:36:05.

Reviews

Comments

Lauren said:
I'm happy that they included the powerful female Galadriel character. I understand that they mostly had to stick with the book...but I kind of wish they had made a few of the dwarves female. They updated the master-slave relationship of Frodo and Samwise in the Lord of the Rings movies, why not update the group of adventurers to have a few female dwarves?
Message posted on 2013-01-02 02:10:27
Mastro said:
Well- few women (Blanchette) and no minorities, either.

Its one thing to be too lazy/cheap to fly in an African American- but NZ has Maori- who could/should have been used.
Message posted on 2013-01-09 23:53:25
Maulie said:
Loving the book as much as I did as a child, I feel like it'd just be strange to have female dwarves included-- too shoehorned and without purpose. Just keep including female warrior elves, and I'll be happy.
Message posted on 2013-01-10 04:02:51
Kayla said:
Mastro, Tolkien wrote the lord of the rings as an English/European mythology. It would make no sense whatsoever to throw in a dark-skinned character just to be inclusive. It would be too obvious that they were doing it just for that reason.
Message posted on 2013-01-12 08:36:41
rhys said:
Tolkien's error, of course. That being said it seems as though this adaptation will have even fewer women than LOTR. The only other female character I can recall is the Bard's wife in Rivertown.
Message posted on 2013-01-12 23:43:46
Adam said:
Maulie said:
"strange to have female dwarves included"

Technically, they might be included already. After all, they establish in LotR that dwarf women are bearded, and almost indistinguishable from dwarf men to non-dwarves. That said, you know, it's a fairy-tale from the 30's, so... yeah. Sausage fest.
Message posted on 2013-01-17 16:49:53
AJ said:
This is a story about dwarves and a hobbit stealing a ring from an evil wizard (well, from a proto-hobbit who stole it from a corpse who cut it off an evil wizard, but whatever). Saying it "would make no sense" to include people of color or women is the most trite, asinine coverup for not wanting non-whites in your fantasy that I can imagine.

Literally, Kayla, the fantasy world you support has no non-white people in it (except maybe as anonymous bad guys in LotR). That should make you very, very uncomfortable.

Tolkien wrote tons of descriptions of walking and trees and other boring bits. The movies changed that, and the end product was better for it. There's no reason whatsoever that the movies can't upgrade to include people of color and dwarf-women.

It's amusing that it would be a bit harder to include dwarven women, because apparently there's a schism among Tolkien fans as to whether dwarven women have beards or not. I think the portion that would be angered whichever way, though, is small enough to ignore in favor of showing a little girl that women can be badass fighters, no matter what Tolkien may thought (ups to him re: Eowyn, of course!).

It's a shame that you're apparently under the delusion that art is stagnant and can never be updated. If people can change around their interpretation religious texts so that they make sense in a contemporary setting (e.g. feminist midrash), I'm pretty sure we can make this slight alteration to a children's book to make it so that women and minority children will enjoy more, too. Suggesting otherwise would be hilarious if opinions like that didn't actively make the world a worse place for minorities everywhere.

I mean really, come on. Your defense of why The Hobbit shouldn't include people of color is that Tolkien wrote the book only for white people. That is what "As an English/European mytholgoy" MEANS. Only for whites. You want to keep a children's story for whites only because Tolkien wrote it for whites only. Lots of things were intended, when written, for whites only. We have no problem changing those to be inclusive, so why should we balk at the idea of telling children that fantasy worlds can include them?
Message posted on 2013-01-18 18:30:14
Mark disagreed with the rating and said:
Wouldn't Dwarves themselves be a minority? Or even for that matter, Hobbits?
It is called fantasy for a reason. It has its own world, rules, languages and cultures.
Message posted on 2013-01-18 18:35:57
Mercedes said:
Maulie, you seem to be saying that a male character needs no purpose to be in a book.
Message posted on 2013-01-18 19:04:06
Ben said:
The characters in the book are almost all white-skinned and male. If you change that, you've changed the source material for no reason except affirmative action.
Message posted on 2013-01-23 00:18:26
Sharif Olorin said:
Lauren: Sam wasn't Frodo's slave, Sam was a servant; and Frodo (adopted heir of a wealthy family) was his employer, as has commonly taken place throughout European history. Their professional relationship was very similar in the films (Sam being a domestic employee of lower social status); only his job title changed, as the relationship between Frodo and Sam is not explored very deeply in the much-abbreviated and -simplified films - it would have been misleading to include it without including all the context.
Message posted on 2013-01-25 03:17:52
Nimravid said:
Ben: the characters in the book are almost all white-skinned and male. If you don't change that, you do it for no reason except racism and sexism. (Since there is no actual story reason for them to all be white and male.)
Message posted on 2013-01-27 20:06:48
Jake said:
Of course, we have no idea whether any of the orcs or goblins were female.

Still, it would have been silly to throw in a Tolkien minority.
Message posted on 2013-01-28 23:37:28
Beebz said:
Jake...you win the internet. "tolkein minority." That was easily the best thing I've read in a week.

But, listen, when I read/watch A Raisin in the Sun I'm not offended at the lack of white people. There just aren't any white people in that story. So what? It's still great. I don't need more ethnic minorities or women in Hobbit to make it a good story, because that's not what the Hobbit is about. In fact, by needing such things to be in a film in order to appreciate it, I have to wonder what you're even watching these films for anyway.
Message posted on 2013-01-29 15:29:38
C.J. said:
For real though, even if adding woman characters would somehow "ruin" the movie (which it wouldn't), there's really no good excuse to leave out dwarfs/elfs/hobbits of color. And don't give me that "they evolved to fit their region" excuse either. There's far less to lose from white nerds getting frustrated than from real living people of color being denied acting jobs or the chance to be represented in a traditionally white, male genre.
Message posted on 2013-01-30 06:11:52
Robin B disagreed with the rating and said:
The rating system presupposes that all stories told must pass this test or they are bad. That is reverse descrimination for perfectly valid stories, centering in Europe and relating to the wars that dominated European history. Stories like that, which is what the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings is emulating, will not likely have female characters or minorities. Lawrence of Arabia is a marvelous example. A fantastic movie that relatates a story that, to be historically accurate, does not have a single female character. Punishing or complaining that such stories are biased when they accurately portray a historical period or adapt a classic work of ficiton, is a bias in itself. It needs to be taken into account if the intent of the story is sexist or racist or if it is accuracy. There are several movies I noted in the list in the past couple of years that do have women and pass the test, but I would not rate them as passing due to the content. If we are just discussing the content of a movie according to these rules, that is great, but when it turns to judging a movie based on the rating based on these rules, some movies are getting too high a rating and others are getting too low a rating. The MPAA does this with their ratings, sliding the scale a little one way or the other based on historical accuracy.
Message posted on 2013-02-06 21:07:31
Kinkachu said:
Having read The Hobbit repeatedly through childhood and as an adult, and now having seen the race/gender debate over the film, I must mention that at no point is it specified anywhere in the book that the dwarves are all fair-skinned, or even that they are all undoubtedly male. Yes, Tolkien makes no mention of, for example, a dark-skinned dwarf, and they are usually referred to as "he" if not simply by name, but neither does he clearly state that none of them are dark-skinned. Besides describing their ages, beards, and the colour of the hoods they wear, he is actually quite vague about them physically.
It would not have been difficult or truly deviating from the original material to make one or two of the dwarves female or non-white. That would just be embellishment - not affirmative action.
Let's imagine for instance that at some point during the film it comes out in one of the many lengths of dialog that were never in the written material, that Nori is actually female. That's not going to upset die-hard Tolkien fans any more than they already are because of Jackson's many changes, and might actually serve to make some girl children who can't find much to relate to with these characters feel a little more included.
Message posted on 2013-02-16 10:51:04
Leikela said:
Agree w/ Kinkachu. Tolkien is elusive about skin colour.
And the members of the Fellowship are really all minorities uniting against the evil majority. :)
Message posted on 2013-02-17 18:39:27
Tim said:
AJ:

I'm just the least bit disturbed by your argument that people can only enjoy a movie or relate to it if people like them are in it. Take the Turkish film "Honey." Everyone in that movie is Turkish, speaks Turkish and lives in Turkey. By your reasoning, I should not enjoy that movie or identify with it in any way, as a white American. yet I do.

Let's be clear: diversity is not a bad thing. By diversity for diversity's sake is fake and meaningless. Tolkien doesn't need to be "updated" by including "minorities" any more than white actors need to be shoehorned into Asian fantasy films. When racially diverse fantasy peoples are included for no reason other than to be so in movies, you don't think "aw, what a lovely picture of the progressive and tolerant world we live in," you think, "How the heck are these people related to each other? (case in point: the elves from Eragon)" Racially diverse casting isn't just fake; it's unrealistic and distracting.

And just to prove my point, let's think about a movie that did cast people as characters of a clearly different race: The Last Airbender. And we all know how well that went.
Message posted on 2013-02-20 00:27:28
C.J. said:
Tim:
The difference being that "as a white American," it's already assumed that you'll be represented in the vast majority of America-produced feature films, especially as protagonists.

You're telling me the Vala Aulë only created white dwarves?

I do agree that the Last Airbender is terrible but no beautiful rainbow of diversity could have saved that movie.



Message posted on 2013-02-24 04:37:38
Ethan said:
Incredibly enough by these standards of only white male dawrves, you are not only exposing a bit the sexist cadences of the movie but as well exposing the racist undertones in some of Tolkien's writing. The fact is, the dark races that do appears are mostly portrayed as the utmost evil in the lands, and often darkness is asociated with evilness in Tolkien' world.

What could be bad about having black dwarves or elves? What? It wouldn't just be inclusive, it would be logical... we have a fantasy world with immense sentient thinking eagles, talking walking trees, magic, but we can't have black elves? I mean, you say inclusion doesn't add anything to the plot, but I say it adds normality to a eurocentric white male world, it adds the inescapable truth that no race defines the character, but the characters is defined by its own self.

Message posted on 2013-03-05 02:31:38
Katie said:
While I 100% agree with the rating and the gender-aspect of this, I've been reading some of these comments and I'm not sure it's entirely fair to can Tolkien's work racist. He modeled the world of Middle Earth around historical British subcultures. I'm not sure what the specifics are, but you get a lot of celtic images with Rohan and Danish (I think, I may have that wrong) influence on the development of the elves. Jackson interprets the dwarves as very scottish.
So the fact that the leading characters are white is simply because the come from a somewhat regionally segregated realm. But my whole argument is little bust because the guys from Rhun with their oilphants are black...and evil...soooo...
Message posted on 2013-03-11 23:30:02
Emmy disagreed with the rating and said:
I just want you guys to know that if you rewatch the movie, there are several bearded dwarf-women in the beginning sequence in Dale talking amongst each other.

And I don't know if Lobelia Sackville-Baggins counts but technically she is indeed a named female in the movie.
Message posted on 2013-03-12 07:03:38
Zepp said:
We’re condemning The Hobbit - a fantasy flick for kids, for not passing the test now? Really?
Alright, I’ll play along.
We feminists, or as I like to call ourselves - equal opportunists, have to be reasonable and realize that we can’t always have our cake and eat it too.
I’ll start by addressing the issue of race in this movie:
The thing about medieval fantasy, unlike most other fantasy, that you should understand is that separation by race is an essential part of the genre.
In the same way that some sci-fi can be sexually and racially progressive (look Battlestar: Galactica or Caprica), some ‘sword & sorcery’ can be, and most often is, just as regressive. And that is not necessarily a bad thing, depending on how you look at it.
Here’s how this type of fantasy works - regardless of being presented as a european or scandinavian mythology, it is based on a time in human history when the culture and place you were born in determined your race. It was a time when other countries seemed strange and exotic to each other - not only nordic, but also arabian, asian, indian ect. And to trade with and/or visit those lands meant that the writer created a more colorful and expansive world. There’s a charm and sense of wonder found in that.
Tim here made an excellent point about asian feudal fantasy films not having characters of any other race. Nobody is accusing them of being racially insensitive and reasonably so.
While Tolkien set his story in Middle Earth aka Europe. So the lack of dark skinned protagonists is logical.
That’s one point.
Another point would be that The Hobbit and LOTR do include a large variety of races. It’s just that people don’t often consider Humans, Hobbits, Elves and Dwarves, to be the same as white, black, asian and indian.
The whole point of the trilogy was that a Hobbit - a minority, saved the world.
As for a black dwarf or elf - yes CJ, unless they came from some southern or desert region, that is - outside of Middle Earth, then there’s not gonna be any. And Tim is right, that’s as valid of a point as it can be and you should accept that.
You must also remember that in that time long gone, people used to divide race (or ‘tribes’) by hair and eye color, regardless if they had the same ‘fair skin’.
I’m surprised that with all this anti-race talk in here, nobody has yet criticized the whole franchise for not casting actual real life ‘little people’ as dwarves and hobbits (a la Willow) and not as mere body doubles, instead of celebrity hollywood actors.
Message posted on 2013-03-12 21:33:43
Zepp said:
Ok, now onto the female representation in the movie:
As far as I understand it, nearly 54% is not such a bad deal. Among those there are both good and bad, as well as open-minded and discriminatory films. This sounds just about fair.
Too bad the test is limited to only studying female presence in popculture and not much else.
We need a new test. One that researches the balance of male and female centric fiction.
In a perfect world I imagine it would be something like 30% for each of the sexes and 40% that include both in equal measure.
My point is that it’s extremely hypocritical of people here praising well-made, anti-sexist movies that pass the test, while vilifying indiscriminately all those that don’t.
We should strive for equality by raising female presence without denigrating the male one.
This is not a war, not anymore.
People are becoming more and more open-minded every day.
We should be more accepting of both sides - those who choose to serve an exclusively female audience and those who would rather cater to a male one.
Tolkien wrote his stories mostly as an allegory of his experiences in WWI with his war buddies.
There’s a reason why it’s called a ‘fellowship’.
Thus, we should leave his mythology to be its own thing in history.
And if you want a more ‘progressive medieval fantasy’, then look for A Song of Ice and Fire/Game of Thrones.
Message posted on 2013-03-12 21:34:45
Martin said:
In the next part of the hobbit, there will be a rather important female character, called Tauriel, a wood elf, played by Evangaline Lill (from Lost)
Message posted on 2013-03-14 19:33:17
Astrogirl said:
@A.J.

The whole point of Lord of the Rings and Tolkein's writing was that it described a place which never really existed - the rural English countryside of Tolkein's youth. Most films are uncomfortably white by default, but for this one it's thematically necessary.
Message posted on 2013-03-26 14:55:15
Kara said:
Peter Jackson took plenty of liberties with the Lord of the Rings trilogy making it quite different from the books yet still managed to short sheet women and people of color....so, I'm not sure that the "there were no dark skinned folks in that place and time" argument works here, though I understand why it is used.
Message posted on 2013-04-02 21:49:47
Erika said:
"As for a black dwarf or elf - yes CJ, unless they came from some southern or desert region, that is - outside of Middle Earth, then there’s not gonna be any." - Zepp

Wrong.
Have you maybe forgotten the people from the north? I mean the original inhabitants and not the "blonds" that we see today. Yes, their skin are darker and they have dark eyes, because the sun is so strong in the winter. It's the sun, not the warmth that makes some people darker. More sun = more pigment, for protection.

And Middle Earth (Midgård) comes from Norse Mythology, as dwarves and elves..
Message posted on 2013-04-08 21:14:39
Vanya666 said:
I want to break down the "rules" of the Fantasy genre, because I don't feel anyone has done this yet.

In Fantasy, the logic of the fictional universe doesn't have to conform to reality, but it does have to establish its own rules and obey them.

For example: in Star Wars, it's established that there is a class of magical space ninjas with basic telepathic abilities and other-worldly technology. Therefore we don't t find it out of place or immersion-killing when we see Luke Skywalker fight with a lazer sword or move objects with his mind. However when we see Padime Amidala jumping over molten steel flame spurts on a gigantic cartoon assembly line in Episode 2, it makes the audience go "huh?" because it contradicts both our understanding of how physics work, and it goes outside of the rules established by the film (ie; non-Jedis don't have super-human abilities).

Including randomly placed black people into The Hobbit would kill immersion simply because the film hasn't established that this is a fictional universe with multiple ethnicities (as the audience understands the term). It raises too many questions that the film doesn't equip the audience to answer. This is why people find tokenism to be more problematic than the alternative in most instances.
Message posted on 2013-04-12 18:28:49
Zepp said:
Kara, those changes involved only the plot, not the overall setting. So it does work. And the argument would still be valid, even if there was (human) race diversity included. Because the appearance of colored folk in a predominantly while culture still has to be justified and explained.
I don't know, maybe after all this arguing here, the second Hobbit movie will suddenly have a positive black/asian/indian minor character introduced with a one-line-throw-away reason attached to him/her.
But that wouldn't make such an addition any less awkward or gratuitous.
And Erika, your argument makes no sense. It's contradictory and unsubstantiated. Are you talking about 'north people' as in within Tolkien's fictional world or from real life?
Message posted on 2013-04-12 20:51:16
Edith said:
Actually I don't agree that having dark skinned characters needs to be explained in the slightest. We are talking about fictional characters, people. They can be any colour at all. Might be wrong but I don't remember Tolkein stating that all dwarves had pale skin. Even if he had, he also didn't give Ori a pudding bowl haircut-films are adaptations, not literal retellings, and its certainly ok to change minor details with no storytelling relevance. Why would he need to explain why they were there? Maybe, as in the UK, and also the North (Norse) darker skinned people had been present in the country for generations anyway, owing to trade etc.

Re "there were no black people in that place or time.". People it is a made up place and time. The director pretty much decides who was there. Its pure, recent, literary convention that has decided elves, dwarves etc should be white. This really is not a case where historical accuracy is of concern.

Message posted on 2013-04-20 22:54:12
EW said:
AJ, you say:
" Tolkien wrote the book only for white people. That is what "As an English/European mytholgoy" MEANS. Only for whites."

No. It means "about whites". Can white kids watch "Mulan", or is it just for Asians?

And the fact that "The Hobbit" is also about males brings up a point I'd like to make about this test itself:

To me, the problem is not that *there are* movies that are only about men, but that there are precious few movies that are really *about* women. I can enjoy a movie about men and even identify with the male protagonists, but when the protagonist must always be male, or every female character's life must revolve around romance, the overall message is depressing.

Rather than calling for darker-skinned dwarves in The Hobbit, perhaps we should be asking why we aren't filming fantasies based on, say, African legends and history.

Message posted on 2013-05-01 21:05:43
Kait said:
Edith, you said: "The director pretty much decides who was there. Its pure, recent, literary convention that has decided elves, dwarves etc should be white. This really is not a case where historical accuracy is of concern."

I disagree, mostly because it is by no means a recent literary convention. When fantasies and folklore are first written, they describe the characters in racial terms that match the region of the world the stories are from. Thus, a European wizard will be white, an African medicine man will be white, a Indian jinn will be brown, and Chinese sorcerer will look Chinese. Archetypically, these are all the same characters, with the same kinds of power and magic. The race and appearance of these characters is dependent on the source material and cultural roots. Thus Tolkein, writing a European fantasy, made his dwarves, elves, and wizards white.
Message posted on 2013-05-08 02:33:46
Allan said:
AJ: Did it bother you that in The Lion King, none of the lions were black? Or Chinese? Or Arab? Ethnicities are HUMAN characteristics. Applying human ethnicities to Vulcains or Elves undermines the suspension of disbelief that these are not human. If a non-human race did have ethnicities, they should not paralel those of humans. The black/white people in TOS Star Trek worked well in that regard, whereas Tuvok was problematic. (Is it the rule now that only black actors play Klingons? That seems to work IMHO.)
Message posted on 2013-05-11 08:42:28
Grum said:
Want a token minority dwarf? I can tell you how to do it without offending anyone. Thorin met with the leaders of the other dwarf clans, and they refused to send aid. Show that scene. Now, for some nice geeky background.

There were 7 ancestors, and each founded their own house.

In the west (white):

Longbeards, Firebeards, Broadbeams (latter 2 lost their homes and were absorbed by the longbeards. Here's your Jewish themed dwarfs with scottish accents. Odd how that turns out, eh)

In the east:

Blacklocks and Stonefoots

In the far east (same mountain range):

Ironfists and Stiffbeards

------------

Want more information? Well, there isn't any. So I say this. Google Zhang Fei. See any portrayal of him (Chinese warlord during 3 kingdoms period). Then try telling me that you couldn't have a Chinese guy play a dwarf.

If anything, I think it'd be pretty cool to show the diversity among the clans when they are so separated, with the 'standard' dwarfs we are used to merely being the Longbeards and their adopted kin.
Message posted on 2013-05-15 06:16:38
Julie disagreed with the rating and said:
I disagree with the rating out of a technical reason:
Bilbo runs past a woman sitting and I think she's washing clothes or something, when he runs after gandalf and the dwarves in the morning after he realizes that he wants to go anyways. And, what about all the women and that are active while the movie explains what happened to the dwarves mountain?????? Come on people! There are more than 2 women in this movie and they talk to each other!

But, no, I don't find the film satisfying regarding number of active women, and neither do find LOTR satisfying in that matter.

But as said, technical is technical. There are at the very least 2 women in the movie, and they talk to each other. Check it again if you disagree.
Message posted on 2013-05-15 10:24:29
Mel said:
Why is there even a race debate happening in here when the bechdel test concerns women? This is out of place.
Message posted on 2013-05-23 05:34:40
KevinM said:
I can't believe some of these comments. COmplaining they should have shoe horned in female/non white actors. Not for reasons of story but to cater to the minority of viewers that care. They took enough liberties with the original source material as it was its artisticly dishonest to make a character female solely to appease some viewers.
Message posted on 2013-06-14 10:03:20
Mixelle said:
We are not minorities, and GUESS WHAT people did have dark skin in the Tolkien books! Elves, humans, dwarves, orcs, hobbits had all kinds of family branches some light, some dark depending on where they lived. Read the damned appendices!
Message posted on 2013-06-17 08:40:04
Matt disagreed with the rating and said:
Why are we badgering on about minorities when we are talking about the inclusion of women?

I believe that it isn't entirely fair to judge this movie because it is only one of a trilogy. Further, this trilogy is about ONE book. I don't think it is fair to put it to the test unless all three movies are out and are taken into consideration. I am fairly certain that there will be in-depth female characters added.
Message posted on 2013-06-21 06:54:28
coffeemann said:
I'm black and the lack of people of color in the Tolkien films didn't really bother me. I know people of all races/genders who loved the movies, regardless.
Also, I recall Peter Jackson cast a lot of Maori as Orcs in the huge battle scenes....kind of racist but at least he included them.
Message posted on 2013-11-07 23:23:56
BurritoPequenyo disagreed with the rating and said:
I don't know if that counts, but in the Director's Cut of the film (i.e.special extended edition) there is indeed a second named female: Bilbo's mother, Belladonna Took so the film passed at least the first test :)
Message posted on 2014-04-03 14:54:20

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