Thelma & Louise

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Thelma & Louise
Thelma & Louiseposter.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Ridley Scott
Produced by Mimi Polk Gitlin
Ridley Scott
Written by Callie Khouri
Starring Susan Sarandon
Geena Davis
Music by Hans Zimmer
Cinematography Adrian Biddle
Edited by Thom Noble
Production
  company
Pathé Entertainment
Percy Main
Star Partners III Ltd.
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Release date(s)
  • May 24, 1991 (1991-05-24)
Running time 129 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $16.5 million
Box office $45,360,915[1]

Thelma & Louise is a 1991 American adventure buddy film co-produced and directed by Ridley Scott and written by Callie Khouri. It stars Geena Davis as Thelma and Susan Sarandon as Louise, with Harvey Keitel, Michael Madsen and Brad Pitt (in his major motion picture debut) in supporting roles.

The film became a critical and commercial success, receiving six Academy Award nominations and winning one for Best Original Screenplay (Khouri). Both Sarandon and Davis were nominated for the Academy Award for Best Actress.

Plot[edit]

Thelma Dickinson (Geena Davis) is married to a controlling man, Darryl (Christopher McDonald). Louise Sawyer (Susan Sarandon) is a strong and organized waitress. The two head out in Louise's 1966 Ford Thunderbird convertible for a two-day vacation in the mountains that quickly turns into a nightmare before they reach their destination.

They stop for a drink at a cowboy bar, where Thelma meets and dances with Harlan Puckett (Timothy Carhart). She gets drunk and Harlan attempts to rape her in the parking lot. Louise finds them and threatens to shoot Harlan with a gun Thelma brought with her. Harlan stops, but as the women walk away, he yells profanity and insults them. Louise loses her temper and fires, killing him. Thelma wants to go to the police, but Louise says that because Thelma was drunk and had been dancing with Harlan, no one will believe he tried to rape her. Afraid that she will be prosecuted, Louise decides to run away and Thelma accompanies her.

Louise is determined to travel from Oklahoma to Mexico, but refuses to go through Texas; It is revealed that something happened to her in Texas years earlier, but she refuses to say exactly what. Heading west, they come across a young man named J.D. (Brad Pitt), and Thelma convinces Louise to let him hitch a ride with them. Louise contacts her boyfriend Jimmy Lennox (Michael Madsen) and asks him to send her life savings via Western Union. When she goes to pick up the money, she finds that Jimmy has come to see her. Thelma invites J.D. into her room and learns he is a thief who has broken parole. They sleep together, and J.D. describes how he conducted his hold-ups. At the same time, Jimmy asks Louise to marry him, but she politely refuses.

In the morning, Thelma tells Louise about her night with J.D. When they return to the motel room, they discover J.D. has taken Louise's money and left. Louise is distraught and frozen with indecision, so a guilty Thelma takes charge and robs a convenience store using the tactics she learned from listening to J.D. Meanwhile, the FBI are getting closer to catching the fugitives, after questioning J.D. and Jimmy, and tapping the phone line at Darryl's house. Detective Hal Slocumb (Harvey Keitel) discovers the event that Louise experienced in Texas, and during a couple of brief phone conversations, expresses sympathy for her predicament and pledges to protect her, but he is unsuccessful in his attempts to persuade her to surrender.

When a state trooper (Jason Beghe) stops them, Thelma holds him at gunpoint and locks him in the trunk of his cruiser, while Louise takes his gun and ammunition. They encounter a truck driver (Marco St. John) who repeatedly makes obscene gestures at them. They pull over to demand an apology, but when he refuses, they fire at the tanker the truck is towing, causing it to explode.

Thelma and Louise are finally cornered by the police officers only 100 yards from the edge of the Grand Canyon. Hal arrives on the scene, but he is refused the chance to make one last attempt to talk the women into surrendering themselves. Rather than be captured and spend the rest of their lives in jail, Thelma proposes that they keep going. Louise asks Thelma if she is certain. Thelma says yes and Louise steps on the accelerator. As soon as the car starts forward, Hal sprints after it in an attempt to save them, but the car drives over the cliff then freeze frames with the car in mid-air and fades to white.

Cast[edit]

Production[edit]

Although the setting for the film is a fictional route between Arkansas and the Grand Canyon, the movie was filmed almost entirely in the states of California and Utah. The primary filming locations for the movie are rural areas around Bakersfield, California and Moab, Utah. The Grand Canyon scenes were actually filmed just south of Dead Horse Point State Park in Utah.[2]

Reception[edit]

The film was a critical success. Metacritic lists a composite critical score of 88 out of 100.[3] Rotten Tomatoes rates Thelma & Louise 83% "Fresh". Janet Maslin of The New York Times had only praise for the film in her 1992 review: "Mr. Scott's Thelma and Louise, with a sparkling screenplay by the first-time writer Callie Khouri, is a surprise on this and many other scores. It reveals the previously untapped talent of Mr. Scott (best known for majestically moody action films like Alien, Blade Runner and Black Rain) for exuberant comedy, and for vibrant American imagery, notwithstanding his English roots. It reimagines the buddy film with such freshness and vigor that the genre seems positively new. It discovers unexpected resources in both its stars, Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis, who are perfectly teamed as the spirited and original title characters."[4] Roger Ebert also praises the film, but withholds a perfect score on the basis of "the last shot before the titles begin. It's a freeze frame that fades to white, which is fine, except it does so with unseemly haste... It's unsettling to get involved in a movie that takes 128 minutes to bring you to a payoff that the filmmakers seem to fear."[5]

The film was screened out of competition at the 1991 Cannes Film Festival.[6]

After watching this film, singer-songwriter Tori Amos wrote "Me and a Gun", the story of her rape six years earlier, which she had told no one about before watching this film. Triggered by a scene in the movie, Amos began sobbing publicly in a crowded movie theater and writing the lyrics to the song in her head.[7]

Argentinian singer and musician Fito Páez wrote a hit song called "Dos días en la vida" ("Two days in one lifetime") after watching this movie. The lyrics tell the story of the main characters, with verses played by singers Fabiana Cantilo (in the role of Thelma) and Celeste Carballo (Louise). It was one of the most successful singles from his 1992 album "El amor después del amor".

The final scene, where the two embrace each other before driving off a cliff, has become an iconic scene. Numerous homages and parodies of this scene have appeared through the years, including alternate movie endings, cartoon parodies, video game "Easter Eggs", and as a tragic ending to television series, music videos and commercials.

The film also received significant criticism from those who thought it was "male-bashing" and "man-hating" and that its depictions of men were unfairly negative.[8][9]

Feminism[edit]

Numerous critics and writers have remarked on the feminist overtones of Thelma & Louise. Film critic B. Ruby Rich praises the film as an uncompromising validation of women's experiences,[10] while Kenneth Turan calls it a "neo-feminist road movie".[11] In her essay "The Daughters of Thelma and Louise", Jessica Enevold argues that the movie constitutes "an attack on conventional patterns of chauvinist male behavior toward females". In addition, it "exposes the traditional stereotyping of male-female relationships" while rescripting the typical gender roles of the road movie genre.[12]

However, in her review for The Los Angeles Times, film critic Sheila Benson objects to the characterization of the film as feminist, arguing that it is more preoccupied with revenge and violence than feminist values.[13]

In an article commemorating the film's 20th anniversary in 2011, Raina Lipshitz called it "the last great film about women" and said that it heralded the achievements of women that caused 1992 to become "the year of the woman". However, she also claimed that women-themed films have since been losing ground, and rarely even pass the Bechdel test.[14]

Awards and honors[edit]

Khouri won an Academy Award for Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen; Scott, Davis, Sarandon, cinematographer Adrian Biddle, and film editor Thom Noble were nominated for Oscars.

Award Category Nominee Result
Boston Society of Film Critics Best Actress Geena Davis Won
British Society of Cinematographers Best Cinematography Award Adrian Biddle Nominated
Los Angeles Film Critics Association Best Actress Geena Davis Nominated
NBR Award Best Actress Susan Sarandon Won
Geena Davis
Top Ten Films Won
Saint Jordi Award Best Foreign Actress Susan Sarandon Nominated
Golden Spike Award Ridley Scott Won
(tied with The Adjuster)
Academy Award Best Original Screenplay Callie Khouri Won
Best Actress in a Leading Role Geena Davis Nominated
Susan Sarandon
Best Cinematography Adrian Biddle Nominated
Best Director Ridley Scott Nominated
Best Film Editing Thom Noble Nominated
BAFTA Award Best Actress Geena Davis Nominated
Susan Sarandon
Best Cinematography Adrian Bibble Nominated
Best Direction Ridley Scott Nominated
Best Editing Thom Noble Nominated
Best Film Ridley Scott
Mimi Polk Gitlin
Nominated
Best Original Film Score Hans Zimmer Nominated
Best Screenplay - Original Callie Khouri Nominated
Bodil Award Best Non-European Film Ridley Scott Won
Chicago Film Critics Association Best Actress Geena Davis Nominated
Susan Sarandon
Best Director Ridley Scott Nominated
Best Picture Nominated
Best Screenplay Callie Khouri Nominated
César Award Best Foreign Film Ridley Scott Nominated
David di Donatello Award Best Foreign Actress Geena Davis Won
Susan Sarandon
Best Foreign Film Ridley Scott Nominated
DGA Award Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures Ridley Scott Nominated
Golden Globe Award Best Screenplay - Motion Picture Callie Khouri Won
Best Motion Picture - Drama Nominated
Best Performance by an Actress in a Motion Picture - Drama Geena Davis Nominated
Susan Sarandon
Silver Ribbon Best Female Dubbing Rossella Izzo
(voice of Louise)
Won
Best Foreign Director Ridley Scott Nominated
Critics' Circle Film Awards Actress of the Year Susan Sarandon
(also for White Palace)
Won
Director of the Year Ridley Scott Won
Film of the Year Won
MTV Movie Award Best Female Performance Geena Davis Nominated
Best On-Screen Duo Geena Davis
Susan Sarandon
Nominated
NSFC Award Best Supporting Actor Harvey Keitel
(also for Bugsy and Mortal Thoughts)
Won
Best Actress Susan Sarandon Nominated
Literary Award Screenplay Callie Khouri Won
Writers Guild of America Award Best Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen Won

The British Film Institute published a book[13] about the film in 2000, as part of a Modern Classics series. On the Writers Guild of America Award's 101 Best Screenplays List it made No. 72.[15] The film was ranked on the Australian program 20 to 1, in the episode Magnificent Movie Moments.

American Film Institute lists

Soundtrack[edit]

In addition to Glenn Frey's "Part of Me, Part of You", which became the film's primary theme song, the soundtrack included songs by Martha Reeves, Toni Childs, Marianne Faithfull, Charlie Sexton, Grayson Hugh, B.B. King, and Michael McDonald.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Thelma and Louise (1991)". Box Office Mojo. 1991-08-06. Retrieved 2012-06-15. 
  2. ^ "Movies filmed in the Moab area". Moab Area Travel Council. Retrieved 2008-07-29. 
  3. ^ "Thelma & Louise Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More". Metacritic. Retrieved 2012-06-15. 
  4. ^ "Thelma & Louise (1991)" The New York Times. May 24, 1991.
  5. ^ Roger Ebert. "Thelma & Louise". Chicago Sun-Times. 
  6. ^ "Festival de Cannes: Thelma & Louise". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 2009-08-12. 
  7. ^ "Chasing Away the Demons, 20/20 Interview with Tori Amos". Healthy Place Inc. 1999-02-15. Retrieved 2008-11-08. 
  8. ^ "Is This What Feminism Is All About?" Time, June 24, 1991.
  9. ^ "Callie Khouri Answers Critics Of 'Thelma And Louise'" Chicago Tribune. July 7, 1991.
  10. ^ Rich, B. Ruby (February 18, 2003). "Two for the Road". The Advocate: 48–49. 
  11. ^ Dunne, Michael (2001). Intertextual Encounters in American Fiction, Film, and Popular Culture. Bowling Green State University Popular Press. p. 89. ISBN 0-87972-848-5. 
  12. ^ Enevold, Jessica (2004). "The Daughters of Thelma and Louise". Gender, Genre & Identity in Women's Travel Writing. New York. pp. 73–95. ISBN 0-8204-4905-9. 
  13. ^ a b Sturken, Marita (2000). Thelma and Louise. London: British Film Institute. p. 11. ISBN 0-85170-809-9. 
  14. ^ "'Thelma & Louise': The Last Great Film About Women" The Atlantic, August 31, 2011.
  15. ^ Writers Guild of America, West: 101 list

Further reading[edit]

  • Fournier, Gina. Thelma & Louise and Women in Hollywood. McFarland & Co., Inc. Publishers, 2007
  • Cook, Bernie, editor. Thelma & Louise Live! The Cultural Afterlife of an American Film, The University of Texas Press, 2007

External links[edit]