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]] The Little Mermaid (1989) [imdb]

This movie passed 3 of 3 tests. It was entered by neil (webmaster) on 2010-01-23 23:28:14.



neil (webmaster) said:
Ariel talks to Ursula, but the entire conversation is about her becoming human so she can get the prince.
Message posted on 2010-01-23 23:28:14
Renee said:
Too bad they couldn't include Ariel wanting an eternal soul, as in the HCA version.
Message posted on 2010-07-04 03:19:00
Natalie said:
Prince Eric's maid, Carlotta, talks to Ariel about having been washed up from a ship wreck. I know that, at this point, Ariel has no voice, but she is expressive during the scene. A few minutes later Carlotta escorts Ariel into the dining room and tells her "Don't be shy." Ariel seems to respond in body language.
Message posted on 2010-07-27 14:53:11
Chris said:
"Ariel talks to Ursula, but the entire conversation is about her becoming human so she can get the prince."

Sure, ignore one of the principle songs of the movie which discuss her motivations for becoming human.

I suppose the reasoning here is that she forgets all those other motivations once she falls in love?
Message posted on 2011-08-16 14:22:02
Katie said:

"Betcha on land, they understand/that they don't reprimand their daughters/bright young women/sick of swimmin'/ready to stand."

Also, I'm willing to count Flounder as a female character, and they definitely have plenty of real conversation.
Message posted on 2012-02-06 08:17:13
Perfectly Idiomatic said:
Also, Ursula chides Ariel on her manners, and then discusses the terms of her contract, some of which is about Ariel belonging to Ursula and Ariel losing her voice, at which point Ariel does question this. It's borderline, but you could count it.
Message posted on 2012-03-14 13:52:59
Undead Hippo said:
The conversation between Ursula and Ariel is long and covers many different topics. Some are to do with men, some are not. The majority of the Ursula dominated conversation is her explaining her work and powers to a rather frightened and dumbstruck Ariel. It should pass based on that conversation, even disregarding the issue of whether conversations where one participant is mute, or with female voice acted fish count.
Message posted on 2012-06-27 19:02:05
luminum said:
The movie passes the test.

The beginning song is "The Daughters of Triton" and is about each of the six older mermaid princesses, each introducing themselves by name (Aquata, Andrina, Arista, Atina, Adella, Allana) and singing about their desire to introduce their youngest sister, Ariel, in her musical debut for the kingdom.

Ariel is the subject and they are "talking" to one another and the audience through song, as well as incidentally introducing Triton and Sebastian as additional characters in the film.

Later, Adrina tells Ariel to get up in the morning. When Ariel is singing to herself, the sisters talk amongst themselves, wondering what is wrong with her, with Atina asking the others, "What's with her lately?"

It isn't until later, when Triton appears, that love (with a male) is brought up as the topic of conversation.

Finally, Ursula and Ariel do exchange lines that aren't about the prince. Ariel calls Ursula a monster and Ursula calls her a brat and threatens her saying that with or without the contract, she could destroy her. The subject there isn't Triton, it's abut Ursula asserting her dominance and triumph over Ariel and all others.
Message posted on 2012-08-07 04:48:25
Kim said:
Flounder is a male. In the Little Mermaid sequel--which passes with flying colors, as it has many conversations between Ariel and her daughter--Flounder has a fish moustache!

The poster is correct about Ariel's motivation to be human. She was interested in that even before she met Eric.
Message posted on 2013-04-03 15:51:44
Rob said:
I was tempted to disagree with the rating on the grounds that Ariel wanted to explore the land for more reasons than one, but her deal with Ursula nevertheless specifically states that she must kiss the prince. This is not a dubious pass, this is a clear fail in my opinion.
Message posted on 2013-04-23 04:44:34
mutes said:
What I think is interesting is that Ursula is very clearly keeping it about a man to stop Ariel from having second thoughts. "If I become human, I'll never see my father or sisters again." "Yes, but you'll have your man!"

Technical fail, but definitely interesting.
Message posted on 2013-06-27 21:34:08
Joanna said:
This movie clearly passes. Ariel's conversation with Ursula passes, because whatever the underlying motive, there are plenty of times when they focus on things other than Eric (think of Ursula's song to Ariel about her assistance to poor unfortunate souls of both genders).

But even if we disregard Ariel and Ursula, the song by Triton's daughters passes. They mention their father, but then go on to introduce themselves and Ariel. This isn't a technicality or a close call--the movie just passes.
Message posted on 2013-07-10 00:21:34
Sammy said:
I have no idea how something as seemingly objective as the bechdel test has so much disagreement.

Does this movie pass? No. It doesn't. That doesn't mean anything, the sequel is a piece of shit but passes with flying colors. It is a movie that involves the main character losing her ability to converse.

From what I can read in this thread the disagreement comes from two scenes, the sisters and the Ursula song.

The sister song is not a conversation. In the same way a stand up routine is not a conversation with a comedian, a conversation needs an exchange of ideas.

Even if we did qualify that as a conversation, the audience is not a named character. So, the song does not have named female characters conversing about a non-male topic.

So now we have Ursula's scene. I guess the subjectivity of the Bechdel test comes from the 3rd point. What does about a man mean? Is a conversation about a marriage about a man? Is a conversation about a divorce about a man? Can a conversation have an underlying context of a man even if a man isn't mentioned?

I understand how the 3rd point can be debated, but in this case a man is specifically involved and spoken about. The first line of the song is "The only way to get what you want [the prince] is to become a human yourself."
A few other converses

If I become human, I'll never be with my father or sisters again.

But you'll have your man, heh heh. Life's full of tough choices, isn't it? Heh heh. "

But without my voice, how can I-

You'll have your looks, your pretty face.
And don't underestimate the importance of body language, ha!

The men up there don't like a lot of blabber
They think a girl who gossips is a bore!"

So, let's look at the points

Is this 2 named female characters: Yes
Do they converse: Yes
Is the conversation about something other than a man? No.

Unless you think that the song qualifies as multiple conversations this does not pass. And it is not multiple conversations, it is one. Does it also talk about Ursula's other poor souls? Yes, but it was still ONE conversation, and that ONE conversation was about men. So it does not pass. Plain and simple.
Message posted on 2013-08-05 09:04:15
Erica said:
Sammy, your argument is flawed. The conversation may mention a man occasionally, but it's primary focus is not on the man. If it were you'd be right, it would fail. But if two women were talking about politicians, and occasionally a male one came up, it would not be about a man. Even given your other points (which aren't really a given but we'll go with it for now) the conversation/song with ursula definitely counts. And as for not counting a song any more than you can count a comedic routine as a conversation, in that manner I'd argue you can't count anything said in a script as a conversation, because it's not a flow of ideas, it's a flow of idea, singular, from the writer to us the viewer.
Message posted on 2013-09-21 01:56:40
Jack said:
I am confused by this idea that if a man is mentioned in a conversation, that conversation automatically fails #3. This makes no sense. Conversations often move from one topic to another. Is *one* of those topics is not about a man, then it passes. "Besides" is not exclusive! It means both "instead of" and "in addition to".

Put another way, if you can answer the question, "What did they talk about besides a man?" with anything other than, "Nothing," it passes.
Message posted on 2013-11-07 15:27:37
Andrea said:
From Ariel's perspective, the conversation is about a man. From Ursula's perspective, it is about Ursula's plan to usurp King Triton and rule over the ocean herself. I think it is generally still a fail but its a close case.
Message posted on 2013-12-22 18:50:57
Kristen Gandhi said:
This passes in several places, though it is close.

One: Carlotta speaks to Ariel and they clearly interact about things other than men:

"Washed up from a shipwreck... oh the poor thing. We'll have you feeling better in no time." Later, she helps assure her when she walks in to see Eric. Ariel cannot speak at this time in the film but they do communicate quite clearly.

Two: All the sisters have names. When they first knock on the (bathroom??) door, they are angry about how long she's been in there. Not about men. Only after Ariel comes out do they mention her crush.

Three: Ursula and Ariel speak to each other on two major occasions. Yes, it's about a man, but there are other things they speak about -- contract terms, history of Ursula's magic, etc.

Four: Flotsam and Jetsam are voiced by women. They clearly speak about things to each other, to Ursula, and to Ariel other than just men.
Message posted on 2014-04-07 23:01:14
April said:
Kristen Gandhi, just a note on 4) Flotsam and Jetsam -- despite the voice artist, Ursula calls them "boys" (after they tip over the rowboat to prevent Ariel and Eric from kissing).
Message posted on 2014-06-05 22:14:29
Anya said:
To me the movie passes 3 tests.

Ariel and Ursula talk about the price Ariel should pay for becoming human. Also they talk about Ursula being able to transform Ariel into a human.
In my opinion, it cannot only be around the fact that Ariel wants to join the prince, as becoming human is a dream she always had and she is determined to accomplish it.
Message posted on 2014-10-04 19:59:43
ginaq said:
Ariel calls Ursula a monster and then Ursula threatens to kill her. A man is not mentioned. Also the long conversation she has before her transformation covers the terms of the contract. It is not about a man. Ariel's named sisters also talk to eacheother about Ariel acting strangely, long before Triton appears and the topic of love is mentioned. This passes the test and is not sexist.
Message posted on 2014-10-07 19:28:17
Tula said:
The webmaster said so themselves. The conversation is ABOUT becoming human, not ABOUT a man. Her motivations may have something to do with a man but there is so much more than that. The test says they talk to eachother about something other than a man, which they do. It is a very long conversation. It passes.
Message posted on 2014-10-07 19:31:13
neil (webmaster) said:
I've updated the rating from 2/3 to 3/3.
Message posted on 2014-10-07 21:06:31
sofia1234 said:
Ariel´s motivation to become a human is to met the prince but ursula´s motivation to have ariel´s voice is to met the prince too.
Message posted on 2014-11-19 04:02:47
Anna said:
Of course it passes. Does anyone remember at the beggining of the movie when they named 7 female characters and they literally sang a song about Ariel? Why wouldn't that pass?
Message posted on 2016-09-18 19:20:15

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