"Thelma & Louise" Film Analysis Free Essay Example (2022)

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Thelma & Louise is a comedy genre film directed by Ridley Scott and written by Callie Khouri. The main characters, Thelma and Louise are play by Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon respectively. The film hit the theaters in 1991 and has been nominated for various awards. It is told in a standard narrative. It talks about two women who plan a weekend getaway from the men in their lives. Thelma Dickinson and Louise Sawyer set out for the weekend vacation at the fishing cabin in the mountains to take a break from their daily lives in Arkansas.

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Louise’s boyfriend, Jimmy, a musician, will simply not commit to the relationship. Thelma is married to a disrespectful and controlling man, Darryl, who just wants her to be quiet in the kitchen while he is watching football. Though their road trip starts on a good note, the two best friends end up in a bar. After getting drunk, Thelma ends up in the parking lot with a man who attempts to rape her.

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Louise shoots at the man and ends up killing him. Rather than correcting their mistake, they decide to run away from the crime scene. The pair is pursued the law sympathetic towards their plight. When they arrived at Grand Canyon, the two women make a fateful decision about their lives.

Although the setting for the film is a fictional route between Arkansas and the Grand Canyon. A large portion of the film was filmed almost entirely in the states of California.

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Thelma and Louise start out in Arkansas in the summer of 1990. During their road trip, they pass through Oklahoma and Colorado to Arizona. Before the two best friends embarked on their trip they were both in domesticated space. They were entitled to managing their homes and taking care of their men. From their domesticated space, they move to Arkansas roadside bar and a dark parking lot, and then they are off to a motel, gas stations until finally, they reach Arizona where they are driven to the edge of the cliff. The film is not shot in one area but they have made one place look like another.

Thelma and Louise is a film about the outlaw. They may be running from the law for killing the rapist but to some extent, their action is justifiable since it was self-defense, but they are also running from the law they know would not protect them.

The opening section of Thelma and Louise provides clues that foreshadow the storyline of the film, it sets the tone and contributes towards the environment. When you undertake an analytical approach to the arrangement of scenery and what is presented on the screen, for example, the actors, set design, costumes, camerawork, and hair and makeup. This film turned the cultural and gender norms when it made its two leading character females. Within the time limit of its opening sequence, Thelma & Louise effectively provides a wealth of mise-en-scene for the viewer in the place of a traditional story. The film from the beginning presents the difference in character and highlights the road they are willing to take. An impression is important in the opening segment and is drawn to immediately.

Louise works as a waitress in an American diner. She wears a white uniform while she as work, this may be used to put emphasizes of her cleanliness. And this is additionally exhibited by her hair and make-up is perfect, this may suggest she is a woman who minds her looks and also cares about other people’s opinion on her physical appearance. When Louise departs from her workplace, a bold statement of intent of attaining to be a member of the professional working class. This sense of looking the part presents her type of lifestyle, which although well taken care of paints a picture of her wanting to escape the doldrums of her day-to-day routine. The apartment she lives in is clean and organized, but the rooms are sparse and rudimentarily. This demonstrates the type of unhappy life she lives. Her boredom is also presented when she places her boyfriend’s picture face-down after she was unable to reach him on his phone.

Cross-cutting is used to great effect to separate the different personalities of Thelma and Louise. Thelma house is a jumble sale of clutter. Walls adorned with money-saving coupons. She wears ill-fitting, frumpy clothes and her hair is unkempt. Thelma has an innocent, nave nature, demonstrated by her pandering to her hare-brained husband. He is frequently annoyed to have to live in a middle-class crisis. She portrays a woman who is not happy with having to settle for homemaker status. Thelma unfulfilled relationships and dreams of better things to come, which ironically marries her to Louise perfectly.

Darryl provides a sense of comic to the film with his laughable delusions of grandeur. He is a sales manager at a rug company, which seems fitting as to the ugly bouffant he wears on top of his head, and he is a pretender, attempting to portray himself as something totally different, but it seems no one is buying what he is selling. The house is filled with trophies he won and a sign of his manship in the house.


In the play, a lot of outdoor lighting was used, during the day and at night. A bar was also well re-created in the early scene on the film with the use of dim lighting. In the final scene, cinematographic effects are astounding. There is the use of panning, reaction shot, and dissolve. Thelma and Louise portray two extreme emotions of desperation and the tranquility of freedom. Thelma realizes that they have hit the endpoint and can no longer run from the police officers. The reaction shot is applied when the camera switches from Thelma to Louise as each speaks. You cannot see their reaction until they speak themselves. The two are both pushed to the limit in the final scene. As Thelma is proposing that the two take a plunge to their ultimate freedom, the viewers see this through Louise’s eyes. Panning technique is used when all the police patrol cars approach the two men. By using panning here, the viewer gets a better idea of how many men there actually are and that Thelma and Louise are surrounded.


Parallel editing was used to showcase how both Thelma and Louise were backing their luggage for the girls’ road trip. This means the viewer can see two different locations as well as how differently the two characters were packing. In another scene where editing is applied is when the police were approaching Darrel’s house, the 180-degree rule is kept intact. This showed what everyone was looking at. Montage editing is used to rotate between Thelma and Louise and the car when driving at night. This may have been possibly used to show the change in time as they moved from one place to another. AS Thelma and Louise drive off the Grand Canyon at the end of the film, the screen flashed to white into the editing credits. There is also a mixture of different music in the film, that is, in-diegetic for example the water sprinkles outside the house and diegetic music like the country guitar string-bending theme when the two were on the road.

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