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

[[3]] Oz the Great and Powerful (2013) [imdb]

This movie passed 3 of 3 tests. It was entered by John on 2013-03-09 04:53:03.

Reviews

Comments

John said:
Evanora talks about Theodora's commitment to her and if she's working with other witch Glinda.
Message posted on 2013-03-09 04:53:03
Austin said:
If only Theodora wasn't such a weak female character, motivated purely by rejection from a man she JUST MET!!
Message posted on 2013-03-10 12:45:39
zackrobbin said:
I suppose it passes, but just barely. There may be a conversation or two you can pick out between witches, but pretty much of their words and motivations revolve around either the "wizard" or their father.
Considering the feminist themes of Baum's original books, it's disappointing.
Message posted on 2013-03-10 16:56:07
Erika disagreed with the rating and said:
Although it may technically fit under this test, I think barely passes and may cause us to reconsider what should qualify as a passing grade. This film is SO male-centric. The women are helpless without men. After the King's death, OZ fell apart and can't get back together without another man. There are 3 legitimately powerful witches but they are useless without the fraud-wizard. The majority of the conversation concerning all the women resolves around men. They are either talking about their father or the wizard. Even if the sentence expressed doesn't directly involve a man, it is because of men that they are even talking. The men are the motivating forces behind everything. I'd be curious to see what percentage of female dialogue concerns a man and what doesn't. Perhaps if only the majority of the interaction is free from discussing another man then a movie should be awarded the full Bechdel score. I wonder how many movies actually have its women talking about other subject matter for at least 51% of its story.
Message posted on 2013-03-11 23:08:27
Emily disagreed with the rating and said:
They do talk about Theodora's commitment to Evanora, but only as a fragment of a conversation about the authenticity of the wizard. Evanora is accusing Theodora of bringing the wizard into the emerald city as Glinda's spy.
Message posted on 2013-03-12 04:12:22
lisa glomb disagreed with the rating and said:
achhh, respectfully disagree, as John picked out perhaps the single incident of the women talking about anything other than the male character and how they related to him! I was really disappointed in this movie from the bechdel perspective, especially considering how strong the females are in Baum's stories.
Message posted on 2013-03-14 16:38:42
luminum said:
There's nothing to disagree about as it relates to the film passing. The Bechdel Test doesn't measure whether a film is sexist or feminist. It's an arbitrary set of standards used to test for gender bias.

So yes, even if it's "one instance" it passes. The Witches talk about Theodora's commitment to Evanora, whether Theodora is a spy, whether she's teamed up with Glinda, and Evanora accuses her of being wicked, to which Theodora responds that she isn't.

Likewise, Evanora gives Theodora the apple and though it's to numb her pain from Oz, the true reason is for Evanora to turn her sister wicked. They talk about how Theodora realizes Evanora is the wicked one (implicitly "not Glinda"), how wickedness makes one see things more clearly, and how Evanora will change Theodora's appearance. Only then does the conversation shift back to Oz.

The movie is far from a feminist film, but it passes the Bechdel Test, as do many other non-feminist films.

Message posted on 2013-03-17 20:00:13
John the Savage said:
A quick reminder that the Bechdel Test does not, and does not mean to measure a movie's level of feminism. A film can be sexist and still pass.

On that note, I'm also a little disappointed with this film (mostly because of Glinda, insisting that it's Oz's job to come up with a plan despite being vastly more capable than him), but I wouldn't go so far as to call it sexist. The women are still the ones with all the power in this movie, and though everything seems to revolve around Oz, I would argue that he's really not much more than pawn of the witches (and even Little China Girl at times).
Message posted on 2013-03-18 02:00:23
SBOlsonJr said:
It barely passes; however, it may go against L Frank Baum's ideas about female characters. I hope in the next movie that Dorthy will be the hero like in the book instead of the typical damsel in distress like in the old film.
Message posted on 2013-03-21 03:57:23
Julia said:
Glinda also briefly talks with the china doll to confirm that Evanora is responsible for her town's destruction, but I guess that doesn't count since "china doll", while a major character, is not named.
Message posted on 2013-03-26 13:12:41
Bradford Wade said:
The entire film is a study of the Annie/Oscar relationship, with the female receiving the majority of the screenwriters' attention. (Yay!)

The events in the Land of Oz are allegorical. The witches and China Girl together represent Annie --- her internal conversations about her desires and suspicions about the womanizing con artist, Oscar.

Since there is no corresponding exploded view of Oscar's thinking, the film ends up being much more focused on the female character's point of view of the relationship. Yes, all of the important female characters in the Land of Oz are focused on the wizard, but that's only because they are all Annie.

When viewed with its deeper meaning in mind, the film is actually something of a feminist masterpiece.
Message posted on 2013-04-02 20:32:55
rottenkitty disagreed with the rating and said:
In order for the film to pass the test, sentences have to taken out of context. So while one sentence might allow the film to pass, that it is actual nestled into a larger conversation about a male character makes it a fail grade for me.

Also, I have to disagree with Bradford Wade with his assessment of the film. In no way shape or form is the film told from Anne's point of view. I'm impressed with his ability to make up an analysis from whole cloth. As Anne is observed solely from Oz's point of view, both as the idealized Glinda and as innocent farm girl, we NEVER see her as an autonomous character.

Also, this film while paying homage to the 1938 version of WoZ, it doesn't bring Oz back to the "real" world at the end of the movie. If the film were from Anne's POV, we would end up back in the "real" world at the end of the movie.

There are numerous examples of appalling non-feminist, indeed "Women, look they just need a man," behavior in the film, but those have been better discussed by other commenters.

There is nothing feminist about this film and Mr. Wade's attempt to prove there is, is nothing more than an adorable fiction.

L. Frank Baum must be spinning in his grave.
Message posted on 2013-04-11 15:00:42
Allan said:
Why did the "powerful" witches need Oscar ? I disagree that it was because he was a man. The message I got was that Oscar's real-world creativity and knowledge was more powerful then the fantasy magic of the witches. It's unfortunate that the Science/Magic message got lumped together with Man/Women. But while the witches were kind of useless, China Girl was brave and resourceful, and didn't rely on magic either. I think China Girl shows a pitfall of insisting that characters be named.
Message posted on 2013-05-11 08:07:53
James said:
@Allan

China Girl doesn't really count against the spirit of the naming rule. She has a large role of in the movie. The naming rule exists so that we can't say a 30 second scene where a female character buys a pack of gum from a female grocery store clerk (credited as "grocery store clerk 1#") means the test has been passed.

I'd say this movie overall is a mostly dubious pass. While most of the key players are female, most of their conversations and motivations center around OZ and their dead father.

It is also pretty gross how Theodora was handled. But that may just be my cynical adult reaction to a children's movie. Better scripting of the "romance" and manipulation would have curbed the blow with how she's turned into the bad guy at the end. But watching her go that psycho after seeing a guy she likes being nice to her sister was way too much.
Message posted on 2013-06-28 23:46:18
Amanda said:
This movie was a hard one for me to decide on. There are conversations between two named women, but it's the last rule that seems to give everybody trouble. The conversations typically begin with talking about a man, but somewhere in the middle the women go in to a different topic, but end up bringing the conversation back to talking about a man. In order to avoid confusion when there are weird conversations in a movie, I simply define a conversation as at least one sentence by two people directed at each other, that they both can hear. Therefor, what is the focus of the conversation. Those these conversations wander, in essence, they are about a man. There is one conversation that makes it pass: the china girl wants to be tucked in. She does mention her father use to do it so she wants a man to do it, but it's still about being tucked in, not about a man. Even though all she is given for a name is China Girl, I would still count this as a name. Just like in Beauty and the Beast, what we call a character can be their name as well as a description. From a feminist's point-of-view though, there is one scene that really makes me angry. As the audience, when already know who is a good witch and who is bad from the other OZ stories, however OZ himself doesn't. After meeting with the two bad witches that he assumes are good and being told by everyone that they are good, I expected more of a struggle for Glinda to convince him that she is the good witch. But one look at her pretty face and he is sure that someone so beautiful couldn't be bad. Isn't this the same way he was convinced that the other witch was good when he first met her? I know that's part of his character, but to completely change his mind set from one look is a pretty big stretch and really lazy writing.
Message posted on 2013-07-08 19:09:46
Roughtrade said:
Not sure what Oz books some of you have read. Yes, Baum had strong female characters. That said, the set up for the "Wizard of Oz" does presuppose that the Oz character was a charlatan who tricked the much more powerful witches, as well as most of the normal people, into believing in his powers. As movie adaptations go, this one was a lot closer to the mark than most.
Message posted on 2013-07-25 06:41:36
Margaret said:
I agree with Amanda and others that this movie passes but is still highly dissatisfying for its sexist, racist, looks-ist messaging. Am I the only one who was cringing at all the servile roles delegated to the people of color? And the familiar, convenient code that evil = ugly and good = beautiful is harmful to kids and relationships.

Bradford brings up an interesting angle when he would simplify the whole of the drama to an examination of the Annie/Oscar relationship and its psychology. The original Wizard of Oz made this type of psychic lens more obvious with the parallels between the farmhands, family members and other characters in Dorothy's original Kansas life and their counterparts in Oz, and how they learn and change through the course of the dreamlike action, finally to arrive at a more enlightened stage of maturity and insight by the time she gets back home. The lion, scarecrow and tin man, as well as the witches and wizard, can all be seen as projections of the young heroine’s developing psyche.

Perhaps this was where the present movie falls short. Oscar's is the movie’s central transformation. Initially he is portrayed as a strong-willed people-user with a keen awareness of his own fallibility, a leader in his own life yet also a womanizing charlatan, with a strong sense of poverty yet yearnings for greatness. Clearly his shenanigans on stage as a magician parallel the trickery in his love life. He is accomplished at both but, is this skillful deceit on a tiny stage all he wants out of life? He gives up his true love Annie to another man because he sees the other man as “good”—i.e. predictable, dependable, conventional—while he longs to be “great”—i.e. a popular genius like Edison.

This movie looks at men’s choices. There is a great ambivalence apparently between the pressure to be a good family man and following one’s star. The ending seems to suggest that he can have it all—passionate sex with the one he loves, adoring crowds and material riches, support and approval, power and a shot at genius—as long as he is willing to embrace a lack of authenticity and a sexist, racist system that systematically divides and diminishes women and people of color.

The science touted in the movie is completely co-opted by the strongly faith-based, magical theme of “the people need something and someone to believe in—please be it.” What a perversion that Edison’s genius and advances are cast as just a fantastic opportunity to “give the people what they (supposedly) want, and keep them infantile and dependant on the white man’s (supposed) dominance.” Is this perhaps the movie makers’ own guiding light shining forth? Technological glitz and gizmos (which we saw a lot of in this movie) shown off in all their precocious wonder merely in the interest of pallid, warmed-over, self-serving and uninspiring suggestions?

People today need stories of more value and substance to help them learn how to live their lives with greater personal authenticity and stronger communities. Unlike in the movie that inspired Oz the Great and Powerful, the movie industry fails them terribly in this attempt.
Message posted on 2013-07-27 19:05:31
michael disagreed with the rating and said:
all the sisters talk about is how that man done them wrong
Message posted on 2013-09-03 19:49:25
C.K. said:
I have yet to see anyone mention the conversation at the end between Evanora and Glinda. It had nothing to do with Oz. Nothing! Yes, Glinda's father was mentioned, but the conflict between the two women had nothing to do with a man outside of "you killed my father, prepare to not-die because I'm better than you, bitch," which is a legitimate beef to have with her. But beyond killing her father, Evanora enslaved Glinda's people, people she was raised to feel protective of. I was very excited to see the final fight be between these two characters and not come to an argument between Glinda and Theodora with the latter accusing the former of stealing her man.
Message posted on 2013-09-05 04:12:48
Sari said:
I look at it this way: there were many more conversations between two females than between two males.
Message posted on 2013-12-18 02:42:30
Chris disagreed with the rating and said:
Rating is nonsense - the three female characters, despite being far more powerful, practical and knowledgeable each routinely put themselves in great danger so that James Franco can achieve his goals. Every discussion they have is about James Franco, or his ultimate goal of being King of Oz for literally no reason. In the real world, James Franco would live in Oz as a common peasant while the three female leads would either fight it out or come to some agreement over who should be sovereign.
Message posted on 2014-02-17 11:57:41

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