Thelma and Louise is one of the films that, despite the years, have remained etched in us by offering memorable and immortal scenes. Why Thelma and Louise we like it so much? Think of commercial cinema, Hollywood cinema, the previous century in particular. How many women's roles do we have in mind? How many stories do women have in the lead role do we know about? And most importantly, how many of them are related to a man or do not have a strong romantic charge?
It is certain that few movies with this profile will come to mind. In this world of men, dominant machos, submissive women whose plot is associated with a story of love or maternal, a title shines: Thelma and Louise. It resonates like a war cry, like threatening drums that shake everything else, that scare and anger the strong and dominant men and make the virility that emanates from the cinema wobble.
It's certainly not the most feminist film in history and not the most touching film. But it is a cry, a song of feminine freedom, in the manner of a pounding on the foundations of patriarchy. One reason for this: the cinema, especially the most commercial; has always been a world of men and the integration of women was very late. Moreover, today, the names of women in the field of management are still in the minority.
Thelma and Louise, although led by a man (Ridley Scott), was written by a woman (Callie Khouri) and played by two others (Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis). We are in 1991 and North American cinema is in full swing but with few women actresses. Thelma and Louise break this tradition, break the rules and invite us to shout, to destroy the bubble of submission and to take control. He invites women to be in control of their decisions and their lives. It's a female road movie that made the difference.
"I never went out of town without Darryl.
How did he let you come?
I did not ask him. "
-Thelma and Louise-
Nowadays, a large part of the population knows the film, but if you have not seen it. This article may contain spoilers. One of the most surprising things in the film is the evolution of the main characters, the two actresses.
Both are native to deep America, a totally patriarchal world where their roles are relegated to the domestic plane. Their friendship will be the driving force that will push them to live together this adventure film. Very different, but very united, they will develop a real change of mentality. They will advance in the endless roads of central United States.
- Thelma is a woman in her thirties, sadly married to Darryl, an absolutely macho man who believes he has control over his wife, clothes, money … He is the man of the house, the one who makes the home live, while Thelma has to take care of the house and be at his service. She was raised that way, she grew up believing that her purpose in life was marriage and although she was tired of living with Darryl, she never thought of confronting him.
- Louise, unlike Thelma, works as a waitress and has an unstable relationship with a musician, Jimmy. The latter is never at home and does not seem to want to engage. Louise is much more decided than Thelma, who seems more innocent.
Together, they decide to leave their routine for a weekend. They want to get away from their homes, away from the city so they can disconnect from the world in which they live. Louise is much more aware of the reality around her. Thelma on her side is always very submissive and innocent, she lacks malice and trusts too much.
The journey will take a radical turn when confronted with their situation as women, with the bitter face of male domination: the rape. This is a facet that Louise knew and that pushed her to act in the most unexpected way possible.
From now on, the path will be much more different. What at first had to be a week of relaxation and disconnection then turns into a road to the inner awakening, towards a war of women living prisoners in a world of men. The landscape will no longer be idyllic, their clothes will not be those of "exemplary women" and of course, they will not be the same.
Thelma and Louise facing patriarchy, rebellion
What guarantee does a woman with a rape have? What was waiting for Thelma and Louise after killing a man by self-defense? Why choose to live if it is not to be free? Both knew that if they called the police and told the story, no one would believe them and they would end up in jail. They also did not want to be victims, they just wanted to be free, to choose their future on the margins of the patriarchal society around them.
Thus, they passed from women subject to two fugitives, two rebels, but especially friends. The loyalty and affection present between the two pierces the screen. This shows us a story very different from the others told by Hollywood. Women are no longer rivals who compete to conquer a man, but comrades, characters and at the same time, the "thugs" of a story that, if it had been played by men, would have been 'one more movie about' bad boys'.
Tired by society, tired of being relegated to the background and especially motivated by their thirst for freedom, Thelma and Louise began their fight against an unfair system: a system that would condemn or label them as victims, or worse.
This NO to be victim, being the center of looks and macho comments, will not only sound in the film, it will have an impact within the industry. This NO is the answer heard by Callie Khouri from her screenwriter each time she tries to carry out a project towards a producer.
At least once we felt the power of patriarchy over us, we were all scared one day by returning home alone, we have all experienced unpleasant situations. Thelma and Louise present this from a woman's point of view.
Everyone thought that after Thelma and Louise something would change, that more films would be seen with women in power, roles reserved exclusively for men granted to women, but despite success with the public, this development did not happen.
This journey on the road, the persecution and especially the unforgettable jump in the void invite us to seek freedom, to challenge the established, to decide our future. The cinema has often committed machismo acts and it is dangerous because it inspires us, motivates us and often pretends to be a portrait of the reality.
Thelma and Louise was an awakening, an act of rebellion in a world where it seemed impossible. Friendship, disobedience, freedom or death, that's what we propose Thelma and Louise, its essence; something that should never go away.
"Many words go through my head such as: jail, interrogations, electric chair, life sentence, things like that … And you ask me if I want to come out alive?"
-Thelma and Louise-