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]] Les Miserables (2012) [imdb]

This movie passed 3 of 3 tests. It was entered by TR on 2012-12-15 06:47:14.



TR said:
The women at Fantine's sweatshop gossip with each other about her (though also about the supervisor who wants her) and about their difficult lives of poverty. They also talk (well, sing) to Fantine about her letter and her secret child.

When she falls on hard times (spoiler) the local prostitutes persuade her to join them, though there is a man present.
Message posted on 2012-12-15 06:47:14
Emma disagreed with the rating and said:
None of the women who talk to Fantine have names. The named women never speak to each other.
Message posted on 2012-12-25 16:21:08
DC disagreed with the rating and said:
While I do not know whether the women in the sweatshop chorus are named in the book, musical, or original script, it seems like none of the characters having the conversation about Fantine are named.

Also, they only talk about Fantine in terms of her relationships with men (possible relationships, of course there's a man, the foreman's advances).
Message posted on 2012-12-26 01:15:01
Parker Higgins disagreed with the rating and said:
No two named women speak to each other.

Neither the women in the sweatshop nor the prostitutes are named (except Fantine).

At one point the innkeeper's wife orders the young Cosette to fetch water, but that's the extent of their dialogue and the wife isn't really named anyway.
Message posted on 2012-12-26 05:47:49
Joe said:
This example doesn't count because the prostitutes and factory girls aren't named. However, the movie does pass. Madame Thénardier orders young Cosette to fetch water from the river in the woods and Cosette replies that she doesn't want to because the woods are dark and scary.
Message posted on 2012-12-27 01:37:24
Alex said:
Neither the women in the sweatshop nor the prostitutes are named characters. However, Madame Thénardier talks to the child Cosette.
Message posted on 2012-12-27 04:59:47
Ashley said:
Madame Thénardier also speaks to her daughter, Éponine.
Message posted on 2012-12-31 22:35:39
luminum said:
As others pointed out, this movie shouldn't have a disagreement notice at all:

Madame Thenardier talks to Cosette about being a "spoiled and pretentious child" (though it isn't true) and sends her away to fetch ater. Cosette responds, begging not to be sent out alone and in the dark to the well.

Eponine and Madame Thenardier also speak, with Madame Thenardier lavishing praise on her daughter.
Message posted on 2013-01-05 19:55:07
chuck disagreed with the rating and said:
I mean a brief conversation between an adult woman and a child (where the adult woman is basically treating the child like a slave) or even an adult woman and her daughter (who is still a child) shouldn't really count. Those aren't the types of conversations that should allow a movie to pass the Bechdel test, especially when the movie is horribly sexist and depcits all of its female characters as either put upon saints or grotesque monsters (to be fair, the male characters aren't that much more complexly portrayed, but still).
Message posted on 2013-01-10 15:46:57
CK said:
Honestly, I think using the Bechdel Test on a movie who's source material is a play based on a book published in 1865 is a bit absurd. Honestly, the fact that Fantine isn't completely demonized for having a child out of wedlock and turning to prostitution to support her child among other relatively progressive (for the time period) themes makes it one of the most feminist stories of the 19th century.
Message posted on 2013-01-10 21:04:38
lh said:
chuck, maybe you should read up on the bechdel test and what it's really about. hint: it's NOT meant to decide whether or not a movie is sexist. cf: sucker punch, which passed while being a sexist mess.

also, what's with the implication that conversations between women and girls -- or mothers and daughters -- aren't "they types of conversations" that make for passing the test? does that mean you would give a movie like "gypsy" a passing grade, because it's about a mother and a daughter?

please please please do not dispute ratings until you understand what they mean.
Message posted on 2013-01-13 01:32:53
Paigan said:
Madame Thenardier orders Cosette to go into the woods, to which Cosette replies that she doesn't want to. Madame Thenardier then praises her own daughter, Eponine on the way she is dressed and how well-mannered she is. A definite pass.
Message posted on 2013-01-15 09:38:54
Emma said:
I agree with this rating, because as others mention, Mme. Thenardier speaks to her daughter and her slave child. And like others mention, is it really fair for this movie to be subject to a test in feminism? They portray Fantine as a good person, despite her having a child out of wedlock, and the women calling her a slut are portrayed as wrong. That's pretty great for a book written in the 1800s.
Message posted on 2013-01-16 03:07:10
Krista Taves disagreed with the rating and said:
The fact that we're having disagreement about whether unnamed women having conversations counts, and brief conversations between named women count, indicates that there is indeed a problem with the representation of women in this movie. Actually, the novel treats women in a much more comprehensive way and is actually light years ahead of the movie. The writers of the musical placed women in a lesser overall role and represented women in more stereotypical ways than the author of the novel, which is more than 100 years old.
Message posted on 2013-01-16 11:58:59
Daniel Hofverberg said:
Regarding Krista Taves's comment: I don't disagree that there may be a problem with how women are depicted in the movie.

But be that as it may, there's still no doubt in my opinion that the movie passes the Bechdel test as written.
Message posted on 2013-01-22 07:40:31
Leah said:
Exactly -- the question isn't "Is there a problem with the representation of women in this movie?", but rather "Does this movie pass the Bechdel Test?". It does, quite clearly.
Message posted on 2013-01-28 23:38:53
Joseph disagreed with the rating and said:
Does Madame Thenardier really count as a named female character? She does not have her own name. Her name literally is her husband's name. Since Sacha Baron Cohen's character is listed as simply "Thenardier" and does not have a prefix, Helena Bonham Carter's character's "name" translates to English as "the wife of Thenardier," which isn't really a name at all.
Don't take this post, or life, too seriously.
Message posted on 2013-03-25 17:56:53
Emma said:
"The writers of the musical placed women in a lesser overall role and represented women in more stereotypical ways than the author of the novel, which is more than 100 years old."

I think it's more a matter of turning a 1200 page book into a two hour musical... doesn't give you much chance to explore character. I don't really think the women are in a lesser role, and the fan-favourite character (Eponine) is a woman.
Message posted on 2013-04-01 14:48:33
luminum said:
I watched this movie again and these are not minor conversations. The exchanges between Madame Thernadier, Cosette, and Eponine would pass even the modified test, which includes exchanges a minute or more in length:

Madame Thernadier:

Now look who’s here!
The little madam herself,
Pretending once again
She’s been so awfully good!
Better not let me catch you slacking!
Better not catch my eye!
Ten rotten francs your mother sends me -
What is that going to buy?
Now take that pail,
My little Mademoiselle,
And go and draw some water from the well.
We should never have taken you in
In the first place -
How stupid the things that we do!
Like mother, like daughter, the scum of the street."



Madame Thernadier:

"Eponine, come my dear.
Eponine, let me see you.
You look very well in that little blue hat!
There’s some little girls who know how to behave
And they know what to wear
And I’m saying thank heaven for that!


Still there, Cosette?
Your tears will do you no good!
I told you to fetch some water from the well in the wood."


"Please do not send me out alone.
Not in the darkness on my own."

Madame Thernadier:

"Enough of that, or I’ll forget to be nice!
You heard me ask for something,
And I never ask twice!"

And yes, these exchanges are crucial to highlighting information: It demonstrates the tragedy of Cosette, while explaining that the Thernardiers were extorting Fantine, and also demonstrates Thernardier's favoritism of Eponine. It also demonstrates how Eponine's upbringing was happy and beautiful compared to Cosette's treatment, which pays off after the time jump when their positions have switched and Eponine realizes that she cannot compare with Cosette.
Message posted on 2013-04-02 19:17:25
Anabel said:
Madame Thénardier talks to Cosette and Éponine when they're kids, and not about a man.
Message posted on 2013-06-03 19:31:58
Martha said:
Joseph, I see no reason why Madame Thenardier should not count as a named character when you consider that Cosette is only a nickname and Enjolras is never even given a first name in the book.
Message posted on 2013-06-28 08:55:17
Savka said:
I think it barely passes. As someone who has studied Les Mis in various forms and aspects, the film itself has only ONE conversation between two "named" women directly. We know Cosette's name because she mentions it herself, not because Mme. Thenardier mentions it, and we only know her name by addition. So if it passes, it is a tricky one.
However, I do not think that because it's based on a book written in 1865 the test won't apply. Les Miserables is a book that doesn't lack feminine presence, and for example, Pride and Prejudice - film based on a book published in 1813 DOES pass it. We must remember these are adaptations, so the script is fundamental.
Message posted on 2014-08-26 20:37:25
Alessia said:
I agree Savka, look at the many other movies based on books from the 1800s! My favorite example is Little Women, which passes this test with FLYING colors lol.
Message posted on 2023-02-23 10:58:22

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