25th anniversary of “Thelma & Louise”

Fathom events, August 2016 – On Wednesday, August 24, 2016, Fathom events offered a one-night only screening of the classic American film, “Thelma & Louise,”  featuring Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon respectively in the title roles. This showing was in celebration of the films 25th anniversary.

Film critic Roger Ebert in his syndicated column of January 1, 1991 praised the film as being a classic in the expansive, visionary tradition of the American road picture. “It celebrates the myth of two carefree souls piling into a 1956 T-Bird and driving out of town to have some fun and raise some hell. We know the road better than that, however, and we know the toll it exacts:  Before their journey is done, these characters will have undergone a rite of passage, and will have discovered themselves.

What sets “Thelma & Louise” apart from other great classics of traditional road movie like “Bonnie & Clyde,” “Easy Rider,” and “Rain Man,” and iconic buddy movies such as “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid,” is the fact that the heroes are both women.

They are initially presented as two very ordinary working-class girlfriends, Louise, a waitress at a small Arkansas town who lives with an Elvis look-alike musician, and Thelma, a housewife married to a verbally abusive buffoon who’s a self-important rug salesman. To escape their hum-drum lives, the girls decide to hit the road for a weekend of fun, but through successive, unanticipated events, often hilarious, yet equally as often, toxic and life-changing, the weekend is extended into a microcosm of an almost cosmic release of these two women’s inner, repressed selves. It’s as if we’re witnessing the free-flowing liberation of their inner-most psyches. They bare progressively their souls in the name of freedom throughout their journey and ultimately pay the price. They seem to take on a universal every-woman identity, one which few have the courage or the means to explore.

The film has two additional characters, understandably not included in the credits: the first is the harsh, barren, and unforgiving Bad Lands through which they journey seeking “a good time;” the second equally as harsh and brutal is the overwhelmingly male-dominated milieu in which they live, visually engulfed by big-rigs, 18-wheelers, oil tankers, predatory truck stops and run-down gas stations, all symbolizing the threatening and palpably dangerous environment in which they must survive. It’s all hard-edge and steel and one can almost smell the oil and stench of burning rubber.

But like a couple of unexpected, fragile daisies growing through a pile of concrete rubble, Thelma and Louise grow and mature spiritually in unanticipated ways, precariously pinched between a New Life of self-awareness and utter destruction.

This is not a “chick flick” or “women’s lib” gesture, but rather a ground-breaking cinematic milestone, in what may be viewed as the emergence on the popular screen of the female archetype in which the essence of womankind is given full and very moving expression.

Produced by Ridley Scott & Mimi Polk

Genre:  Drama, Road Movie, Thriller

Rated: R

128 minutes

Cast:  Susan Sarandon as Louise, Geena Davis as Thelma, Harvey Keitel as Hal and Brad Pitt as J.D. (debut)

 

Review by Hugh McMahon and Lidia Paulinska

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