Film Analysis of Thelma and Louise Background Thelma and Louise is a 1991 movie directed by Ridely Scott, written by Callie Khouri, and starring Susan Sarandon and Gina Davis. Louise is a restaurant waitress with a inattentive boyfriend and Thelma is a house wife with an impatient and angry husband. The two women decided to take a break from their caged life and take a road trip. Louise shot a man trying to rape Thelma and they begin a journey of running away from the police. During this journey they keep committing “necessary” crimes.
In the end, rather than surrendering to the police, they drive off a cliff. The movie ends with their car paused in the air. The movie revealed many personal and social problems women are facing and showed the two heroin’s extreme responses. The movie was well received both commercially and critically. It had a gross box office of $45,361,000. It won an Oscar for the best screenplay and had 5 nominations, including two best actress and best director. The director, Ridley Scott, is best known for his action movies such as Alien and Blade runner.
He is famous for his slow pacing action and his use of music and surrounding to build up the atmosphere. Ridley Scott grew up in a family where his military officer father was never home. Strong female characters can be found in many of his films. The script writer, Callie Khouri, is a female writer and director who was raised in Texas and Kentucky. She worked as a production assistant while writing the script. Structure Thelma and Louise, as seen from its name, tells the story of two female friends who intend to go away for a few days on a fishing trip.
The trip for Thelma was to escape the boredom of her marriage. And for Louise it was to sort out her feelings about her relationship with her boyfriend. After a brutal attempted rape at the start of the trip, they find themselves on the run facing a possible murder charge. Louise had been the victim of rape in the past and believed they had no chance of justice if they went to the police. Thelma was horrified but will not abandon her friend, and the two take off in Louise’s car. On the run and out of money, the girls commit a string crimes including robbery, blowing up a semi-truck, and imprisoning a op in the trunk of his patrol car. Chased by many police cars in hot pursuit in the end, the two buddies drive off the cliff to ‘continue’ their journey. The average shot length of this movie is about 6. 3 seconds which is quite rare in Hollywood genre nowadays, indicating that this movie was not focused on the pace and excitement of action but the psychological transition of these two women. In many scenes the camera shows the road the two women were trying to get to from a distance, indicating the long road ahead of them and also the long road behind them.
It is symbolic of women’s path throughout time to become equals with men. To give the feeling of the movement of the journey, we often see the profiles of the women in close-ups with their hair streaming behind them and as the camera appears to move with them. This results in the audience feeling as if they themselves are making the journey as well. This road movie follows a classic three-act structure including three parts: Setup, Confrontation, and Resolution. This is a highly accepted and greatly successful method of storytelling. Act I: The Trip
As the titles roll we see a road stretching to faraway blue mountains. The background music has a kind of rock and roll country sound, so the audience holds the expectation that what they are about to see will involve a journey in the western states of America. And the endless road, which lasts for 50 seconds on screen, can be a symbol of an person’s life itself. When introducing the characters the movie implies Thelma and Louise are both bored to death by their tedious lives and are desperate for a change. A major foreshadowing happens when Thelma packs for a fishing trip with Louise.
She puts a revolver inside her purse. Act I must also present a strong hook – an exciting scene early that grabs the audience’s interest. Part of that hook is the inciting incident that takes place somewhere in the beginning of Act I. In Thelma & Louise, this plot point happens when Louise shoots a man dead who was on the verge of raping Thelma. This action completely changes the course of the story. It is when their gender roles begin to change. Up to this point Thelma and Louise were just trying to have some off-time away from their tedious lives. But when Thelma kills the man they become criminals.
Quickly, the police are brought into the picture. ACT II: Runaway After Thelma was almost raped she suggests going to the police, but Louise thinks no one believe what happened and rejects the idea. They decide to run away from the police. From this moment Act 2 starts. There are two important sequences in Act 2. One is that J. D. , who slept with Thelma, takes Louise’s money. This setback brings a moment of crisis and propels Thelma to do something that is quite uncharacteristic: she robs a store using the technique that J. D. taught her. Before that, Thelma is the submissive one; always cowering behind Louise.
The collapse of Louise enables Thelma to become active to solve all the tricky problems. The second scene is when they shoot the truck whose driver was making dirty jokes and gestures to them all along their journey. Actually, it is not a necessary part for their survival. This indicates they have gotten rid of any ties to society and ‘good or bad’, but rather have tried to fight back for their own dignity in a male-dominated society. Act III: Freedom Act 3 is the shortest one in most movies but includes a climax. Thelma and Louise are determined not to get caught. They keep driving as long as they can.
The final showdown takes place at the Grand Canyon. Thelma and Louise face police and FBI. Their fate doesn’t look promising. They could surrender or they could “keep going”, as Thelma suggests. And that’s what they do. Louise stomps on the gas pedal and they drive off the cliff. Since the movie finishes in the climax, there’s no time for an elaborate resolution. The director ends the scene with a still image of them flying high up in the air, lending a kind of mythic, poetic quality to the ending. We don’t actually witness their final death but we know of its inevitability.
The audience has come to feel affection and admiration for the two women portrayed in a heroic way. Theme In the beginning, Thelma is just an unconfident and ingenue housewife. She is going to ask her husband, who likes his wife to stay quiet in the kitchen, for permission to go on the trip with her friend Louise. But her husband just pays attention to himself and neglect his wife. Eventually she decides to leave anyway. Thelma feels a little bit bad but also excited about leaving without permission and being away from conventional civilization with a society that defines them as women.
Maybe it’s her first “crime” in the movie. She even steals her husband’s fishing tools. Although she has never been fishing, the two girls think that it will not be difficult. If men can fish and have fun and so can they. Taking the gun is a foreshadowing that Thelma will soon start defending herself instead of having her husband there to defend her and protect her. Thelma had never used a gun before. Louise is so surprised when Thelma brings it on their trip and tells her to put the gun into her purse. The girls go to the bar to have fun, but it seems they are forcing themselves to let loose.
Thelma is so different from how she used to act at home and now has a yearning to breathe free. In this bar she meets a man and begins dancing with him and really enjoys herself. She gets drunk and the man attempts to rape her in the parking lot. When Louise catches Thelma being raped she was not only upset about what is happening to Thelma but she is reminded of what happened to her when she was raped in Texas. What finally provoked Louise and caused her to shoot the man was when the rapist was not afraid of a woman with a gun at all and yelled and insulted them with some very dirty words.
When Louise shot the man she not only shot him to protect Thelma but she also shot him for herself and for all women, for some revenge or self empowerment. After that, Thelma wants to call the police but Louise is worried that no one would believe them because Thelma was drunk and had been dancing with this man all night. After the dead body was found Thelma and Louise were instantly suspected. In this scene the waitress is telling the cops that Thelma and Louise could never have murder the man because they left such a big tip. These sort of women’ breaking the stereotype is unfathomable. It is just another illustration of the mold that women are put in, and just as the waitress could not imagine these women committing this crime, society cannot imagine women in any other role. Afraid of being prosecuted, Louise decides to run away. Thelma has not yet decided if she will run away with Louise or return to her mundane life. She calls her husband and received a very rude greeting and blame, and she decides that she doesn’t want to take that anymore. She tells him to “Go fuck yourself” and follows Louise.
As the women continue their run from the cops, Louise called her boyfriend to ask him for money and to hear him say ‘I love you’. But he didn’t show any of his feelings and Louise got no satisfaction from her relationship. She decided to leave him and do what she needed to do, without involving her boyfriend. This showed her growing more independence and also that women can be tough and stand on their own. While on the road the women pick up a hitch hiker named J. D. Thelma and J. D. have a short love affair. Thelma also learns from J. D. how he robs stores and banks. When J.
D. eventually betrays Thelma by stealing Louise’s money she thinks to herself, “I can do what he did”. She didn’t see the social rules (only men can do that) and did what she needed to do to get money. The women had exchanged their kindness for revenge, and their nice skirts for jeans. The police in this movie were portrayed as very lazy and incompetent. They didn’t do a very good job; they seemed impartial to the outcome of the situation and not at all effective. A good example was when they were waiting for Thelma and Louise to call while they watched TV in the home.
This is not a portrayal of what real policemen should be doing. They should be doing more investigative work at the police office or actually chasing the criminal. All of the police officers were men. It is just another role in which men can be portrayed poorly. When the girls put the cop in the truck it was another milestone in their progression towards self confidence and independence. They were fearless and acted as if they had no one to answer to. Their independence and self-empowerment continued to increase. On the road trip the women meet the same truck driver several times.
The first time they laugh and flirt with him, but after seeing him for the fourth time they get fed up of his degrading and rude behavior. They end up blowing up his trick. This is symbolic of how women have put up with men throughout time and it has come to the point when they will ‘blow the truck up’; they will not put up with it anymore. In the end the women didn’t want to go back to their own old lives or be in prison. They set out to have a fun time and they were having a fun time; they were satisfied. They were on top of a cliff which was symbolic of their life.
They were on top, and it could only go down from there by either regressing back to how it was or to go forward and continue their freedom in die. They chose to die and drove off the cliff. Even though they knew they would die, the final shot of the film shows them in complete bliss. They were truly happy despite their situation because they broke the mold for how they were ‘supposed to act’ and were living their life instinctually and on any desired whim. Throughout this film Thelma and Louise developed from dependent women into independent women. In the beginning they do exactly what society expects from them. They cared about everything!
What their boyfriend/husband thought of them and how everyone else thought they should be. The lived to satisfy others and at the end of the film they were living to satisfy themselves. They started out very weak and as they committed more and more crimes they became increasingly strong. This is demonstrated in ways as simple as their wardrobe to their overall demeanor and actions. Even in their criminal actions they started off claiming to be innocent after the death of the man to being fully aware that they were in the wrong but not caring in the slightest. It is also important to note the relationship between Thelma and Louise.
When one was weak the other was strong; no matter what the situation they had the other’s back. The message to the audience is that women need to stand together and support one another. In this movie all the male characters used the women for what they wanted, and Thelma and Louise were fed up. It is not just a coincidence that whenever the women committed a crime it was after a man did something undesirable to them. It is their way of saying, “no more”. This is the message the director and writer were trying to get across to the audience. Women will not tolerate unfair gender roles any longer.