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Thelma & Louise

Thelma & Louise film poster
Directed by Ridley Scott
Produced by Mimi Polk Gitlin
Ridley Scott
Written by Callie Khouri
Starring Susan Sarandon
Geena Davis
Harvey Keitel
Brad Pitt
Michael Madsen
Christopher McDonald
Music by Hans Zimmer
Cinematography Adrian Biddle
Editing by Thom Noble
Distributed by MGM
Release date(s) 24 May, 1991
Running time 129 min.
Country United States
Language English
Budget US$16,500,000
Gross revenue US$45,360,915 (US)

Thelma & Louise is a 1991 American road movie starring two female leads. Directed by Ridley Scott and written by Callie Khouri, the film's plot revolves around Thelma and Louise's escape from their troubled, caged lives. It stars Geena Davis as Thelma and Susan Sarandon as Louise, and co-stars Harvey Keitel as a sympathetic detective trying to trace them as they go on the run after killing a rapist. Michael Madsen plays the role of Louise's boyfriend. Brad Pitt (in his first significant role in a major Hollywood film) plays a parolee robber.

Thelma & Louise became an instant critical and commercial success, becoming one of the highest-grossing films of 1991, and receiving six Academy Award nominations, winning one for Best Original Screenplay.[1][2] Both Sarandon and Davis were nominated for their roles in the same category.

Contents

Plot

Thelma (Geena Davis) is a passive, goofy housewife, married to a controlling husband, Darryl (Christopher McDonald). Louise (Susan Sarandon) is a single waitress who appears organized and strong, with some unnamed trauma in her past. The film follows the women as they head out in Louise's teal 1966 Thunderbird convertible for a two-day vacation of fishing in the mountains that nosedives into a nightmarish situation before they even reach their destination, but which sees them change from victims of circumstance into outlaw heroines of the road.

At the Silver Bullet, a cowboy bar and dance hall, Thelma meets a man called Harlan (Timothy Carhart), with whom she dances. She gets drunk and the man attempts to rape her in the parking lot. Louise finds them and threatens to shoot Harlan if he doesn't stop, using a gun Thelma brought with her. Harlan stops but then defiantly tells Louise that they were "just having a little fun." Louise replies that "when a girl is crying like that, she's not having any fun". Harlan replies that he "should have gone ahead and fucked her" and tells Louise to "suck my cock." At that, Louise shoots and kills him. Thelma wants to go to the police right away, but Louise is worried that because Thelma was drunk and had been dancing with Harlan, no one would believe he was trying to rape her. Louise tells Thelma to wait while she decides as she (Thelma) lies in bed. Afraid that the authorities will prosecute her, Louise decides to run away, and Thelma follows.

Thelma (right) & Louise

Louise is determined to reach Mexico but is unwilling to do so via Texas, despite the fact that they are in Oklahoma and the fastest route to Mexico leads through Texas. It is revealed that something bad happened to Louise in Texas years ago, though Louise refuses to say exactly what it was. They flee west and on the way they meet a handsome, personable young man J.D. (Brad Pitt), whom Thelma immediately likes. She convinces Louise to let him hitch a ride with them. Louise, meanwhile, contacts her boyfriend Jimmy (Michael Madsen) and asks him to send her life savings via Western Union. When she goes to pick it up, she discovers that Jimmy has come to see her in person. They go to talk in his room, while Thelma guards the money. Thelma invites J.D. into her room; it turns out that he is a robber who has broken his parole. He and Thelma become intimate, and Thelma experiences a sexual awakening. During their time together, J.D. describes how he conducted his hold-ups. Meanwhile, Jimmy asks Louise to marry him, and she refuses, as well as refusing to tell him what is going on. They spend the night together, and he leaves after breakfast the following morning. After Jimmy leaves, Thelma arrives and tells Louise about her night with J.D. Suddenly, Louise asks where J.D. is and becomes alarmed when Thelma tells her that she left the money back in her room. They rush to Thelma's room to find both J.D. and the money gone. Louise is distraught, and a guilty Thelma decides to take the lead while Louise is frozen with fear. She uses what J.D. taught her to rob a store. All this time the FBI has been tracking them, and after separately questioning both J.D. and Jimmy, begin putting the pieces together and are getting closer and closer to their trail. Detective Hal Slocumb (Harvey Keitel) finds out what happened to Louise in Texas, and appears to be sympathetic to her predicament. During a couple of brief phone conversations, Slocumb almost establishes a rapport with Louise, yet can't convince her to come back in.

Their actions continue to spiral out of control as the two of them make their way across the country, particularly with the ever-more-daring Thelma, who has shed her giggly, goofy personality for a determined, aggressive, hard-drinking one. When a policeman (Jason Beghe) stops them for speeding, Thelma threatens the policeman with her gun, steals his gun, and locks him in the trunk of his cruiser. They encounter a truck driver who repeatedly makes obscene sexual gestures to them on the road. They pull over to demand an apology from him, but he refuses and they shoot his tanker truck, which explodes. Thelma and Louise are finally cornered by police at the edge of a 2000-foot cliff. Detective Slocumb arrives on the scene, but is dissuaded from making one last attempt to bring the women in without incident. Rather than be captured and spend the rest of their lives in jail, they decide to drive the car over the cliff and commit suicide. The film ends with a freeze frame of the car in mid-air. End credits begin over a montage of their happiest moments together during the weekend.

Production

Scott originally considered Cher for the role of Thelma; however, after the success of Moonstruck, her salary proved to be too high. Meryl Streep was approached to star as Thelma but became pregnant and she couldn't take the part. Jodie Foster was approached to star as Thelma but dropped out before filming began. Geena Davis accepted the part. Scott didn't want Davis for the part and wanted to cast Barbara Hershey instead. Christine Lahti and Debra Winger were also considered. Soon after Thelma & Louise had established itself, as well as jump-starting the career of Geena Davis, she soon began to suffer from typecasting.

The role of Louise was originally intended to be played by a younger star: Annie Potts, Holly Hunter, Michelle Pfeiffer, Frances McDormand, Sela Ward, Jennifer Jason Leigh or Meg Ryan. Pfeiffer agreed to sign on, but dropped due to script concerns. Melanie Griffith was approached to star as Louise, but she became pregnant before filming began. Eventually the choice was made to age the character, and after Goldie Hawn, Diane Keaton, Sigourney Weaver, Sissy Spacek and Anjelica Huston declined, Susan Sarandon was hired for the part.

The primary filming locations for the movie are rural areas around Bakersfield, California and Moab, Utah.[3] The Grand Canyon scenes were filmed just south of Dead Horse Point State Park.[4]

Cast

Reception

The film was a huge critical success. The website metacritic.com, which compiles and averages reviews from leading film critics, gave the film an 88 out of 100.[5] This makes it their 88th best reviewed movie of all time.[6] Janet Maslin of The New York Times, like many other critics, had nothing bad to say about the film in her 1991 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."[7] 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."[8]

The film was screened out of competition at the 1991 Cannes Film Festival.[9]

Singer/songwriter Tori Amos wrote "Me and a Gun", the story of her rape six years earlier, which she had told no one about, after watching this film and being 'triggered' by the events portrayed, resulting in Amos' sobbing publicly in a crowded movie theater.[10]

The final scene has been parodied numerous times in other media, including one of the multiple endings of Wayne's World 2 and several animated series, such as an episode of The Simpsons titled Marge on the Lam.

Awards

Khouri won an Academy Award for a Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen; Scott, Davis, Sarandon, cinematographer Adrian Biddle, and film editor Thom Noble were nominated for Oscars. The film also resulted in Scott being nominated for a César Award for Best Foreign Film and a DGA Award. The British Film Institute published a book [11] 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 #72.[12] The film was ranked on the Australian programme 20 to 1, in the episode Magnificent Movie Moments.

Books

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

References

External links


Thelma & Louise
File:Thelma &
Theatrical poster
Directed by Ridley Scott
Produced by Mimi Polk Gitlin
Ridley Scott
Written by Callie Khouri
Starring Susan Sarandon
Geena Davis
Harvey Keitel
Brad Pitt
Michael Madsen
Christopher McDonald
Music by Hans Zimmer
Cinematography Adrian Biddle
Editing by Thom Noble
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
(Sony Pictures Entertainment)
Release date(s) May 24, 1991 (1991-05-24)
Running time 129 min.
Country United States
Language English
Budget $16.5 million
Gross revenue US$45,360,915 (US)

Thelma & Louise is a 1991 American road movie starring two female leads. Directed by Ridley Scott and written by Callie Khouri, the film's plot revolves around Thelma and Louise's escape from their troubled, caged lives. It stars Geena Davis as Thelma and Susan Sarandon as Louise, and co-stars Harvey Keitel as a sympathetic detective trying to trace them as they go on the run after killing a rapist. Michael Madsen plays the role of Louise's boyfriend. Brad Pitt (in his first significant role in a major Hollywood film) plays a parolee robber.

Thelma & Louise became an instant critical and commercial success, becoming one of the highest-grossing films of 1991, and receiving six Academy Award nominations, winning one for Best Original Screenplay.[1][2] Both Sarandon and Davis were nominated for their roles in the same category, Academy Award for Best Actress. However, the two lost the award to Jodie Foster for her role in The Silence of the Lambs.

Contents

Plot

Thelma Dickinson (Geena Davis) is a passive, goofy housewife, married to a controlling husband, Darryl (Christopher McDonald). Louise Sawyer (Susan Sarandon) is a single waitress who appears strong, organized and stern, with some unnamed trauma in her past. The film follows the women as they head out in Louise's teal 1966 Thunderbird convertible for a two-day vacation of fishing in the mountains that nosedives into a nightmarish situation before they even reach their destination, but which sees them change from victims of circumstance into outlaw heroines of the road.

At the Silver Bullet, a cowboy bar and dance hall, Thelma meets a man called Harlan Puckett (Timothy Carhart), with whom she dances. She gets drunk and the man attempts to rape her in the parking lot. Louise finds them and threatens to shoot Harlan if he doesn't stop, using a gun Thelma brought with her. Harlan stops but then defiantly tells Louise that they were "just having a little fun." When they begin to walk away, he yells profanity and insults at them. Louise loses her temper and shoots Harlan, killing him. Thelma wants to go to the police right away, but Louise is worried that because Thelma was drunk and had been dancing with Harlan, no one would believe he was trying to rape her. Louise tells Thelma to wait while she decides as she (Thelma) lies in bed. Afraid that the authorities will prosecute her, Louise decides to run away, and Thelma follows.

Louise is determined to reach Mexico but is unwilling to do so via Texas, despite the fact that they are in Oklahoma and the fastest route to Mexico leads through Texas. It is revealed that something bad happened to Louise in Texas years ago, though Louise refuses to say exactly what it was. They flee west and on the way they meet a handsome, personable young man J.D. (Brad Pitt), whom Thelma immediately likes. She convinces Louise to let him hitch a ride with them. Louise, meanwhile, contacts her boyfriend Jimmy Lennox (Michael Madsen) and asks him to send her life savings via Western Union. When she goes to pick it up, she discovers that Jimmy has come to see her in person. They go to talk in his room, while Thelma guards the money. Thelma invites J.D. into her room; it turns out that he is a robber who has broken his parole. He and Thelma become intimate, and Thelma experiences a sexual awakening. During their time together, J.D. describes how he conducted his hold-ups. Meanwhile, Jimmy asks Louise to marry him, and she refuses, as well as refusing to tell him what is going on. They spend the night together, and he leaves after breakfast the following morning. After Jimmy leaves, Thelma arrives and tells Louise about her night with J.D. Suddenly, Louise asks where J.D. is and becomes alarmed when Thelma tells her that she left the money back in her room. They rush to Thelma's room to find both J.D. and the money gone. Louise is distraught, and a guilty Thelma decides to take the lead while Louise is frozen with fear. She uses what J.D. taught her to rob a store. All this time the FBI has been tracking them, and after separately questioning both J.D. and Jimmy, begin putting the pieces together and are getting closer and closer to their trail. Detective Hal Slocumb (Harvey Keitel) discovers that Louise was actually sexually assaulted in Texas, thus fearful of a return, and he is therefore sympathetic to her predicament. During a couple of brief phone conversations, Slocumb becomes somewhat fond of Louise, yet can't convince her to come back in.

Their actions continue to spiral out of control as the two of them make their way across the country, particularly with the ever-more-daring Thelma, who has shed her giggly, goofy personality for a determined, aggressive, hard-drinking one. When a policeman (Jason Beghe) stops them for speeding, Thelma threatens the policeman with her gun, steals his gun, and locks him in the trunk of his cruiser. They encounter a truck driver who repeatedly makes obscene sexual gestures to them on the road. They pull over to demand an apology from him, but when he refuses, they fire their pistols on the truck's fuel tank, causing it to explode. Thelma and Louise are finally cornered by police in Canyonlands in Utah. Detective Slocumb arrives on the scene, but is refused the chance to make one last attempt to bring the women in without incident. Rather than be captured and spend the rest of their lives in jail, they decide to drive the car over the cliff and commit suicide. Louise floors the car's accelerator, and Slocumb is shown desperately chasing after the departing car. The film ends with a freeze frame of the car in mid-air. End credits begin over a montage of their happiest moments together during the weekend.

Cast

Production

The role of Louise was originally intended to be played by a younger star: Annie Potts, Holly Hunter, Michelle Pfeiffer, Frances McDormand, Sela Ward, Jennifer Jason Leigh or Meg Ryan. Pfeiffer agreed to sign on, but dropped due to script concerns. Melanie Griffith was approached to star as Louise, but she became pregnant before filming began. Eventually the choice was made to age the character, and after Goldie Hawn, Diane Keaton, Sigourney Weaver, Sissy Spacek and Anjelica Huston declined, Susan Sarandon was hired for the part.

The primary filming locations for the movie are rural areas around Bakersfield, California and Moab, Utah.[3] The Grand Canyon scenes were filmed just south of Dead Horse Point State Park.[4]

Reception

The film was a critical success. The website metacritic.com, which compiles and averages reviews from leading film critics, gave the film an 88 out of 100.[5] This makes it their 90th best reviewed movie of all time.[6] Janet Maslin of The New York Times, like many other critics, had nothing bad to say about 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."[7] 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."[8]

The film was screened out of competition at the 1991 Cannes Film Festival.[9]

Singer/songwriter Tori Amos wrote "Me and a Gun", the story of her rape six years earlier, which she had told no one about, after watching this film and being 'triggered' by the events portrayed, resulting in Amos' sobbing publicly in a crowded movie theater.[10]

The final scene has been parodied numerous times in other media, including one of the multiple endings of Wayne's World 2, and an episode of the animated series the Simpsons titled Marge on the Lam.

During the series finale of the telenovela Barrera de Amor, two of the show's villains and long-time lovers, Manola (Chantal Andere) and Federico (Alexis Ayala) are in trouble with the law and escape as far away as possible to start a new life together. However, they are cornered by the police at the edge of a cliff, just like T&L were. They agree that they would rather be "juntos para siempre" (together forever) instead of spending the rest of their lives apart in jail. They share a few final passionate kisses as they drive off the cliff and die.

A Lady Gaga music video has referenced the final scene. She and Beyonce clasp hands in the same way that Thelma and Louise do as they flee the law at the end of her Telephone video.

A recent commercial promoting the search engine Bing has been showed doing a parody of the final scene, but shows them making it to the other side.

Awards

Khouri won an Academy Award for a Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen; Scott, Davis, Sarandon, cinematographer Adrian Biddle, and film editor Thom Noble were nominated for Oscars. The film also resulted in Scott being nominated for a César Award for Best Foreign Film and a DGA Award. The British Film Institute published a book [11] 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 #72.[12] The film was ranked on the Australian program 20 to 1, in the episode Magnificent Movie Moments.

Books

  • Thelma & Louise and Women in Hollywood by Gina Fournier (McFarland & Co., Inc. Publishers, 2007)
  • Thelma & Louise Live! The Cultural Afterlife of an American Film, Bernie Cook, Ed. (The University of Texas Press, 2007)
  • Thelma & Louise, Marita Sturken (BFI Publishing, 2000)

References

External links

  1. REDIRECT Template:Ridley Scott


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