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Thelma & Louise
Another Gender Road Movie

Director: Ridley Scott
Characters: Thelma – Geena Davis

Louise – Susan Sarandon

Jimmy- Michael Madson

J.D. – Brad Pitt

Journey: The protagonists of the film start their journey in Arkansas and then they decide to escape to Mexico. They never get there. They cross on their way Oklahoma and they finally terminate their refuge in Grand Canyon (Arizona).
Gender on the road Thelma and Louise presents one more example of a ‘road movie’ where the two main protagonists are women. They get to the roads not because they want to escape but they simply want to have a break, a lovely little holiday. They are, however, forced to stay on the roads since they become involved in a murder of a deprived intoxicated womaniser who is trying to rape Thelma. Men in general become the cause of heroines’ refuge and additionally their further crimes. The relationship between men and women in the film is most of the time the relationship between victimisers and their victims or predators and their preys. There is no believe of justice on the part of female characters. They are convinced that their self-defence would not be recognised as such by the policemen since there were no eyewitnesses of the whole event. For that very reason they are determined to run away and seek their freedom in Mexico. Similarly to "Boys on the side" the females characters can be said to represent two women’s stereotypes, namely of a lower-middle class working woman (Louise) and a cowed silly housewife (Thelma). How do the stereotypes work?
Louise is an average self-conscious emancipated hard-working woman. She thinks rationally and firmly stands on her feet. She cannot stand violence and dominance on the part of men. She accidentally kills Thelma’s oppressor in order to prevent his further actions. She does it in self-defence when the man refuses to stop abusing Thelma and threatens both women. Louise realises very fast what kind of consequences would await them if they went to the police. She acts fast and is prepared to take responsibility for her friend.
Thelma presents a complete opposite of Louise. She is neither self-conscious nor emancipated. One could even ask whether she is in general mature enough to be a wife. One thing is sure, she is beautiful and silly although not blonde. Her figure is very similar to Holly’s in "Boys on the side". She is constantly threatened and ill-treated by her violent husband. She does not really know what is love. She is a very naive person who does not have any knowledge of people. Small complements make her think that men love her while in reality they want to use her. Her sexuality and easy behaviour encourage men to get involved in a more intimate relationship with her. Thelma unconsciously provokes misfortune. She is like a baby who gets at any possible occasion into troubles. She is not only to be blamed for the first murder but also her stupidity and an absolute luck of reasonable thinking let D.J. rob them out of Louise’s last financial resources. The latter ones could have helped them to escape to Mexico. Thelma undergoes, however, a slight development towards the end of the movie. Life on the roads gives her a kind of experience and a school of survival. She dares to rob a shop in order to get money for their further journey, she threatens a policeman with a pistol and rescues both of them from being captured. Finally, it is also her idea not to surrender. She prefers death to her former life with her husband. American roads have given her the taste of freedom which she has never felt before and that is the thing she would never want to give away.

Roads are actually dangerous for the newcomers like Thelma and Louise. Additionally one could find here the director’s male chauvinist prejudice that women should rather not be let alone for the own fate since they get straight into troubles. Another conclusion of the same type might be that women who are actively emancipated have to be punished. There is no place for women in the male dominated world - on the roads.

Teresa Malek

 

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