“Tina & Louise” Been a huge Bob’s Burgers fan for years now, but I don’t know why I just now got the idea to combine it with the iconic 90s movie “Thelma & Louise” (which I also love). I’m not sure how well known that movie is nowadays, but it’s great and definitely worth checking out. Either way at least I finally got the inspiration to do a tribute piece for one of my favorite shows of all time!
Certain words and phrases just keep drifting through my mind, things like, incarceration, cavity search, death by electrocution, life in prison, shit like that, know what I’m sayin’, so do I want to come out alive…
I’d just kind of waltz on in and I’d say, “Ladies and gentlemen, let’s see who wins a prize for keeping their cool. Simon says, ‘Everybody down on the floor.’ Now, nobody loses their head, then nobody loses their head. Uh… you, sir. Yeah, you do the honors. Take that cash and put it into that bag right there. You’ve got an amazing story to tell your friends. If not, well, you’ve got a tag on your toe. You decide.”
this week in my senior seminar film class we’re talking about how road movies are inherently about male privilege, male freedom, and are almost exclusively a space for male characters. like, name a road trip movie specifically about women besides thelma & louise and like crossroads with britney spears… i’ll wait
One very common theme in the press was, “This changes everything. Now there are going to be so many female buddy pictures, so many female action figures. This just completely rewrites everything,” and it didn’t. The really short answer is, it didn’t do shit.
We’ve been stuck in this world where Hollywood operates under the assumption that women will watch men, but men won’t watch women. We never get any momentum because everything’s a one-off. Callie Khouri, who wrote Thelma & Louise, had a friend who was a writer, and around three years after it came out, she went to a studio to pitch a movie with two women in the leads. It wasn’t anything remotely like our film, but the studio turned around and said to her, “Oh, no, there’s been Thelma & Louise.”
I should credit Thelma and Louise as the film that sparked my love of vintage American cars, not love in the sense that I’m obsessed but aesthetically speaking they are one of my favourite things.
So if anyone ever sent a 66 Thunderbird my way, I’d possibly be eternally grateful…
Thelma and Louise is I think with Easy Rider one of the first road movies I ever sad, at the time of my first watch I was deeply impressed it and I absolutely adored it.
I loved the vastness of the road and what looked to me like the exhilarating freedom of having a wide open space completely to yourself, that sensation of being alone in the middle of nowhere seemed wondrous to me.
Of course now I see that driving for miles on end and having to sleep in some disgusting, hopefully not roach filled motel has to be exhausting.
And then there is of course the terrifying possibility of running out of drinkable liquids and many more unpleasant scenarios I imagine.
So perhaps that side of is a little less romantic to me now, though still the wide open toad and what I like to call “car freedom” are still beautiful cinematographically speaking, there are just certain parts of the United States that lend themselves most excellently for beautiful imagery.
Deep brown and reds, intense orange and red from a sunset, a deep blue sky, a deep blue sky, dust rising from the ground as a car in a bright candy like coloured car speeds past; and Thelma and Louise captures that almost natural poetical quality of the landscape brilliantly.
But what at the time really impressed me most is that it has It’s centre two women who are best friends, in a non chick flick like environment, complete with an evolving character arc it was something that I hadn’t seen before and that I instantly loved when I was younger and more impressionable.
Now to say that I admired Thelma and Louise would go a bit far, I have absolutely no desire to go on a revenge mission, and what they did would not be something I’d endorse as a fun road trip.
In fact I hate violence in pretty much all of It’s forms and I’m afraid of guns, and It’s not even at all that likely that as a European I’d ever come face to face with one, but still the mere thought is capable of inducing a light panic sensation in me.
But I loved the film, because rather than two heroes it gave us two antiheroines: Two complicated women, who are allowed to embrace their dark and violent side, without being either seen as “dangerously sexy” , or a crazy, walking danger to society that must be locked up ASAP.
Yes Thelma and Louise more than push the line of what is morally correct, knowingly so in the end but It’s precisely that, that I found so exhilarating and still do when watching it, that they were allowed to push the lines of what is morally correct and be morally apprehensive in the way that until then only men were allowed to be in film.
Thelma and Louise flirts or rather makes love with the idea that women can be just as dubious and ruthless in nature as some male characters, and why shouldn’t they, after all both are human and human nature can be simply be scary and vicious to behold.
Although at the beginning of the film, both the ladies are quite sedate in their own and stuck in their small town lives, of which they’re tired so they’re losing for a weekend of fun away together.
But this weekend of fun did not originally include murder and robbery, it was only after the ladies are pushed to their final straw that things got out of control, it still doesn’t justify some of their acts but it does make them more comphrehensible.
Thelma and Louise were both trapped in the same routinary, boring small town life, their crimes start accidentally and as small ones but the longer they are on the road, finally free from any sort of obligation for pretty much the first time in their lives it exhilarates and intoxicates them; It’s their first real sip on freedom of the mind and body and they become drunk on it…
And it does makes sense if you deny someone something their whole lives or you finally allow them to do something they might overindulge, to the point where they damage themselves and they might even realise they’re doing it, but they’re at the point they can’t even stop themselves.
My best friend loves road movies but she had never seen Thelma and Louise which is in my eyes a serious offence as both a movie lover and a woman, after all Thelma and Louise is perhaps the ultimate chick flick!
And with chick flick I don’t mean some silly, largely female driven, completely forgettable romantic comedy but a film that celebrates female friendship and that has no conniving, bitchy backstabbing of the “you stole my boyfriend, now you’re gonna pay you bitch!” sort.
But actually has two incredibly different women, that are fully accepting of the other and that support and stand up for each other.
I also told her that It’s perhaps the only female road/crime movie ever made and that makes it unique, legendary and pretty much immortal, but I didn’t want to sound like a lecturing university professor so I just put in the film.
My best friend’s first question in a long while was: “exactly at one point does too much denim on denim become a crime?” To which I said there’s no such thing as too much denim, except maybe if you start looking like you just came back from robbing the Levi’s store, after all you only need one pair of 501’s do you?
But then my friend felt it necessary to pause the film and dissect the style of the two heroines. My friend thought it was brilliantly done how the change in their style reflects the change in their personality.
At the beginning of the film both dress conservatively so as to probably not stand out too much, but near the end as they embrace their I don’t give a damn mentality, they are both in full outlawishly cool glory.
That’s one of the things I’ve always loved about the film, how It’s so stylish yet at the same time so fun loving and relaxed, while still striking serious emotional chords.
You’ve got drinks, line dancing, amazing pairs of vintage jeans, DIY denim crop tops, vintage pin up like hair scarfs and criminally cool sunglasses, seriously is it humanly possible to look cooler while breaking the law?
You’ve got the original selfie, singing along with the windows rolled down, sun kissed skin, Sarandon’s and Davis’s red hair that reflects the sunlight and blows in the wind as they speed past in their Thunderbird, if this film doesn’t make you want to get into a vintage car and drive in an arid, eroded landscape nothing will.
I love that the film can be gorgeous and embrace the whole beauty of the landscape the two ladies are in, have fun and still have a serious and emotional backbone.
Thelma and Louise does illustrate coherently, sometimes terrifyingly so what being female in this world unfortunately entails sometimes.
Our two ladies had no criminal ambitions, their turning point was a rape, Louise lost her temper at a man who was in the process of raping her best friend, and she would’ve let him walk with a lecture, if it hadn’t been for the words that dug his own grave: “Bitch, I should’ve gone the ahead and fucked her”, to which Louise responds What did you say? To which he responds “ I said suck my cock”, at which point Louise lost it.
If he had simps apologised and kept shut it wouldn’t have ended in his demise, but his own ego and vanity dug his grave. Farther along the road, Thelma and Louise meet more unpleasant types of men and give all of them a lesson in respecting women, but the only man they actually killed is the rapist.
Still Thelma and Louise was seen as a male hating and viciously male bashing film. And yes it is true that pretty much all of the men respond to unpleasant male stereotypes and cliches.
They are but there not out of hate but to merely illustrate what sort of behaviour women have to deal with at times, yes in grossly stereotyped ways but still every woman has encountered at least one of the men in this once, the obscene gesture of the truck driver is one I can sincerely say I’ve had thrown my way once too.
But like I said the two ladies technically only kill one man, while there’s plenty of films in which a man blows way one or more women at a merciless flick of his gun, and nobody makes that loud a fuss.
Thelma and Louise merely let’s women to put it an nonsophisticated way be vindictive, violence loving, authority defying, foul mouthing bitches for once too, that’s only fair representation.
Human nature is complex, and I believe that plenty of women if pushed past a certain could possibly become Thelma or Louise. Still Thelma and Louise has decent and kind men too.
Like Louise’s somewhat childish, Elvis Presley resembling boyfriend, Jimmy, but who does genuinely seem to love her and helps her without question when she asks him to, she is asking him to trust her and he does so.
It shows an obvious fact, you have all kinds of men, good, respectful, kind ones or hopeless romantics and just plain mean assholes.
Only Thelma and Louise ran into the latter one too many times, and I do believe that one many times can be a breaking point in how a woman perceives men.
One insult or one single obscene gesture could be one too many and wreak irreversible damage, and I believe that’s what happened with Thelma and Louise, they were just so tired and angry of all the men in their lives, that they to some degree lost their ability to perhaps see them as human beings, but the process that let them there was no fault of theirs.
I’ve personally always loved Thelma and Louise’s ending, but my friend was disappointed. She would have wanted them to turn round and turn themselves into the police officers with a defiant attitude.
I told her that, that way they would have given in to that which they fought against and it would have been the complete opposite of their personal beliefs at that moment.
For me the ending is pardon my French ultimate fuckin freedom! What after all is freer than chosing how you are to go out of this world, to chose how and when you die.
They probably had an array of rather dismal possibilities, bullets or electrical chairs. The point is that all those endings would have been inflicted by someone else.
Thelma and Louise in an ultimate act of defiance didn’t even give someone else, in this case it would have been a man, the possibility of touching them in their final hour much less of killing them.
So when it came to turning themselves in basically like saying I’m giving you permission to shoot me or the deep abyss they chose driving off into the cliff, welcoming the deep abyss like a friend.
And even if you don’t see any poetic justice in it, purely cinematography wise It’s the most aesthetically pleasing death, I don’t think you could argue that it isn’t.
I mean think about it, if wild horses, Mustangs had conscious thought and they could chose between giving into their captor and being tamed or running off a cliff, I think there’s a high chance they’d chose the latter. Anyway before I delve into anything else, I will leave you guys with the storyline, even if I assume everyone knows it by now:
Whilst on a short weekend getaway, Louise shoots a man who had tried to rape Thelma. Due to the incriminating circumstances, they make a run for it but are soon followed closely by the authorities including a local policeman who is sympathetic to their plight.
The federal authorities, however, have less compassion and thus a cross country chase ensues for the two fugitives. Along the way, both women rediscover the strength of their friendship and suprising aspects of their personalities and self-strengths in the trying times.
Thelma and Louise despite being incredibly beautifully shot and pleasing to the yes, and country music that isn’t unpleasant to the ears, but rather of the kind that I find that even when driving around in a car in Europe you could put on and fantasise you’re on a road trip through the US.
It’s still mostly dialogue based, Thelma and Louise spend most of the time joking, laughing talking heart to heart and emotionally confiding in one another.
So yes while you get panaramical views of astounding beauty, the real protagonist is the written word no doubt about it. The film could have still have failed without two capable actresses like Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis.
I generally love the acting of both, but for me, both were in the glory moment of their onscreen badassery and daringness, especially Davis.
I was shocked a while ago when I read that Thelma and Louise was initially not going to be made with Sarandon and Davis. I simply can’t imagine any other actresses in the roles.
Sarandon and Davis embody Louise and Thelma for me from the very first scenes they give you a clear picture of who both of these women are and what kind of lives they have.
And they conduct themselves accordingly and slowly and realistically evolve according to that, the woman may act out of character at first glance, but then as you consider their progression it is totally in character.
And these two women and are so fun and entertaining to watch, because Sarandon and Davis capture them in a way that’s fully defined without a hint of doubt and hesitation whatsoever.
In a way that lets you know that these women fully know and are passionate about the characters they’re portraying. It doesn’t feel like either Sarandon or Davis had to force themselves and pull great mental effort to get into the skin of these ladies (while that was probably required).
Both come across not as scripted but as real, precisely because Sarandon and Davis come across as so unforced, effortless, natural and confident in what they are doing, they simply seem to have been completely in their element. For me they are two of the best written and best acted female characters in cinema ever!
Thelma and Louise was maybe not surprisingly written by a woman Callie Khourie, but directed by someone who you maybe wouldn’t immediately expect, British Ridley Scott, a mostly good director but not really one known for really emotional and highly sensitive films.
So you wouldn’t immediately expect him that when given the chance to direct a film about two female friends, he’d go: Pick me, me, I want to direct it! He probably to some degree was lured by the adrenaline in the film too.
And then there’s of course also the fact that he’s a Brit and that it doesn’t really get much more American than this, yet Thelma and Louise breathes with naturalness so I can only conclude he was in fact the right man for the job.
The film has the elements of the coolest action and road movies, and big moments, but Scott knew when to slow down and how to handle his camera in the emotional scenes without making them seem unimportant.
But rather shedding more sensitivity on them, really bringing the emotion in them to the front and into the spotlight, and offering a humane insight into female troubles and psychology, you simply see that Scott had respect for his two leading ladies.
Although there’s perhaps a shot of Thelma in a bikini where you could question if it had to be that long, but in his defence It’s a gorgeous bikini and Davis looked exceptionally lovely in it…
And for me Thelma and Louise is truly a film with impeccable timing and pacing, always sufficiently slow or just fast enough. Perhaps the for me only weak point, is those photos after the big, grand finale.
When it comes to the cinematography, Thelma and Louise is one of my all time favourite films. No matter how many times I’ve seen it, I’m still impressed and in awe each time.
It’s absolutely gorgeously shot and one of those films that you could freeze plenty of times at pretty much any given moment and you could get something worth putting up in a frame.
As I said already in some of my posts I love travel guides and travelling in general. I have three travel guides on the United States alone, why you might wonder since It’s essentially always the same country with the same landscape. Well each travel guide has different photos of the same landscape and a different style in approaching and introducing you to the country.
I have to at least name Thelma and Louise as one of the films that made me want to go out and buy them, it simply does the landscape the outmost justice and brings it in all It’s natural beauty.
Usually as a European, well at least in my case when watching whatever American road movie, the remark so much space! Is bound to fall at least once.
And Thelma and Louise captures that wide open space, being completely alone on the road feeling to perfection; It’s palpable you feel as though you are in the car.
The film is an ode to the rich, intense colours of the desert and the harsh, blinding light of It’s sun and gritty scapes.
But still there’s a perfect balance between the landscape and our two leading ladies neither is given more importance, throughout the ladies are shown on screen in a way that you feel close and connected to them, while at the same highlighting the grandness and drama of some moments.
The soundtrack is for me nothing that special or particularly memorable, sure it has some pleasant and nice to listen to songs. Although it does have some legendary musical moments, that do make it into a unique soundtrack. But when it comes to road movie soundtracks, my heart forever belongs to Easy Rider.
Thelma and Louise is not my favourite film, but it is one of my favourite films to revisit once in a while because I find that there’s always new stuff in there that I never remarked, that could possibly spark debate it is still socially relevant after all this time.
It’s a film I highly respect, It is simply unique in what it does, truly one of a kind, still one of the only really openly and unapologetically feminist films, that deals with “female issues” in a way that’s both sensitive and still an enjoyable ride for both genders.
Anyone can lose themselves in the thrill and the adrenaline of it. And It’s possibly one of the only films that can say it passes the Bechdel tests as it reaches soaring heights, literally whilst flying into an abyss, fucking legendary…
Louise: You robbed the store? You robbed the whole damn store? Thelma: Well, we needed the money. Louise: Oh, shoot! Thelma: It’s not like I killed anybody, for God’s sake! Louise: Thelma!
“I feel really awake. I don’t recall ever feeling this awake. You know? Everything looks different now. You feel like that? You feel like you got something to live for now?”