Looks at the obstacles facing working mothers and families and the employer…
Catching Sight of Thelma and Louise
If you are not affiliated with a college or university, and are interested in watching this film, please register as an individual and login to rent this film. Already registered? Login to rent this film. This film is also available on our home streaming platform, OVID.tv.
Powerful, authentic, and timely, CATCHING SIGHT OF THELMA and LOUISE dives off the edge into the truth of women's experience in the world. It revisits the journey of Thelma and Louise through the lens of viewers who saw that iconic film in 1991 and shared intimate, personal, stories at that time. The same women and men were tracked down 25 years later. Are their responses different now? Has anything changed in the way women are treated?
Interview commentary mixes with clips from 'Thelma and Louise' to reveal why this cinema classic continues to resonate with millions of viewers, the world over. Christopher McDonald, who played Thelma's husband, and Marco St. John, who played the truck driver, offer an insider's viewpoint.
'A superb addition to classes in film studies, women, gender and sexuality studies, popular culture and American Culture studies. It provides invaluable insight as to why this film endures as a metonymy for feminist consciousness, the pleasure and resistance of women's bonding, and righteous rage against rape culture.' Jane Caputi, Professor, Center for Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies, Communication and Multimedia, Florida Atlantic University, Author, Goddesses and Monsters: Women, Myth, Power and Popular Culture
'Fascinating and provocative...We learn from intense debates about whether the film is feminist or not, about a pernicious sexism that continues today, about injustice to women, and about a continuing rape culture. This film offers a powerful pedagogical opportunity for college courses in the humanities and social sciences. It's sure to trigger intense debate amongst students, and strong emotions - the perfect place to start thinking about complex, enduring, socio-political concerns regarding gender and sexuality.' Elizabeth Kaplan, Professor of English and Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, Stony Brook University, Author, Women in Film Noir
'Powerful... Catching Sight of Thelma and Louise grabs you and doesn't let you go just because you finished watching it. Some films provoke animated conversations and robust engagement. This is one of them.' DOCUTAH International Documentary Film Festival
'It is as moving to see the women in this film respond to their younger selves' responses to Thelma and Louise as it is to hear the responses themselves, both 25 years ago, when the film was released, and now, with all of the life experience and cultural changes over the past quarter century.' Nell Minow, Alliance of Women Film Journalists
'In the #MeToo era, it's eye-opening and sobering to hear the interviewees discuss their personal responses to the film's depiction of assault and revenge and whether the controversy and awareness that the film provoked has had any lasting impact on society or the movie industry.' Loren King, Alliance of Women Film Journalists
'Townsend's well-researched and beautifully composed documentary challenges you to recall and reflect upon your own responses to Thelma and Louise, and to remind us that movies really do influence the ways in which women think about ourselves and our lots in life.' Jennifer Merin, Alliance of Women Film Journalists
'Catching Sight of Thelma and Louise is a powerful reminder of the ability of film to shine a light on important topics in our society. Incorporating different viewpoints on a film that broke many barriers, the documentary provides us with a unique look at the ways in which films impact us and how our reception of a film may not be the same as someone else's. This documentary would make a wonderful addition to any course that explores topics dealing with feminist media or audience reception analysis.' Nichole Bogarosh, Assistant Professor of Communication Studies, Whitworth University
'Catching Sight of Thelma and Louise is a meditation on the profound and enduring impact that popular culture can have on the American public. Sadly, while time has passed, director Jennifer Townsend's film shows the ways in which very little has changed for women in regard to agency and safety both on and off screen. This film is a must see in the #MeToo era.' Caroline Smith, Assistant Professor of Writing, George Washington University, Author, Cosmopolitan Culture and Consumerism in Chick Lit
'Movies matter...This innovative documentary focuses on the feminist afterlife of a beloved classic...Catching Sight deftly interweaves autobiographical interviews of the film's original audiences with aesthetic contemplations of how popular movies can lead to social movement and political empowerment. It's a poignant, conversation-starting film that would work particularly well in the classroom or at feminist community events.' Maggie Hennefeld, Assistant Professor, Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature, University of Minnesota - Twin Cities, Author, Specters of Slapstick and Silent Film Comediennes
'Insightful and often passionate interviews...The results are fascinating...Catching Sight of Thelma and Louise is a surprisingly multi-layered documentary...Appropriately, like the film that inspired it, it tends to linger in the memory for some time afterward.' Kurt Gardner, ArtsBeat LA
'Ridley Scott's classic raised questions we're discussing today around feminism and the #MeToo movement, making Catching Sight of Thelma and Louise so relevant. This documentary offers thoughtful insight throughout.' Kimber Myers, Los Angeles Times
'This uniquely touching documentary shows how impactful art can be, how many people it can reach and just how long it can last...These heartwarming and heartbreaking collection of voices would make Thelma and Louise, themselves, very proud.' Brigid Presecky, The Hot Pink Pen
'Refreshing and necessary...Catching Sight of Thelma and Louise is...a mirror of sorts, reflecting the work of strong movements and activism to bring a change.' Henrick Vartanian, Brave New Hollywood
'What struck me most about the film is how it got people talking...t's especially important for a film like this to be shown on college campuses and in today's political climate, where sexist and misogynistic remarks have become part of campaigns for even the highest office in the land.' Brian Passey, The Spectrum
'All great films live on in the minds and hearts of audiences - Thelma and Louise is no exception...Mixing footage of the original film with insights from viewers and scholars, Catching Sight of Thelma and Louise explores the #MeToo issues that galvanized feminists of the second wave and shows their relevance to the present day.' Laura Grindstaff, Professor of Sociology, University of California - Davis
'Soul-stirring...Once you've seen it, by all means share your thoughts. You'll be blown away at the cultural pressure on women not to rock the boat.' Pamela Tsigdinos, Silent Sorority blog
'The film connects the personal reflections and experiences of audience members - sometimes sharing empowered memories, and sometimes tragic ones - with larger questions about the way our societal and legal systems continue to marginalize and oppress women, especially in cases of sexual assault. The result is a nuanced and unapologetically feminist film that links audience reception with smart and spirited analysis of the movie itself.' Jennifer Proctor, Associate Professor of Journalism and Screen Studies, University of Michigan - Dearborn, Co-founder, EDIT Media (Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion in Teaching Media)
'This film provides a very intimate reflection on the reality of rape in US society, both 25 years ago and today, particularly with respect to the lack of support towards victims of sexual assault and the silence of rape survivors. Catching Sight is an indispensable complement to Scott's film. It is an important resource for students in the field of gender and sexuality studies in high schools and colleges, and a powerful educational tool for community screenings.' Barbara Zecchi, Director of Film Studies, University of Massachusetts-Amherst
'A powerfully moving exploration of how viewers have responded to Thelma and Louise in the context of gender violence in their lives.' Becca Cragin, Assistant Professor of Popular Culture, Bowling Green State University
'These themes are a current today as 25 years ago, and this fascinating program would be an excellent tool to kick off discussions on the iconic film, feminist issues, and women in Hollywood.' Candace Smith, Booklist
Townsend, Jennifer (film producer)
Townsend, Jennifer (film director)
Director of photography, Stuart Ferrier; edited by Sarah Ferrier; original music by Stephen Thomas Cavit.
Distributor subjectsAmerican Studies; Anthropology; Film Studies; Gender Studies; Health; History; Human Rights; Law; Mass Communications; Media Literacy; Men's Studies; Psychology; Sexual Assault; Social Work; Sociology; Women's Studies
[00:00:03.03] Panning shot of Grand Canyon, opening credits.
[00:00:25.16] Unknown Female Voice: The first time I saw "Thelma and Louise,” I was living in Seattle.
[00:00:28.21] Unknown Female Voice: I was in law school.
[00:00:29.26] Unknown Male Voice: I was in prison at the Clallum Bay Correction Center.
[00:00:32.27] Jennifer: I had a profound emotional psychological reaction.
[00:00:38.10] Dianne: Everybody in the feminist community was talking about it.
[00:00:40.16] June: There was this film in which women were going to take it to the men and take back the night and all that.
[00:00:45.14] Robin: It was this feeling of um affirmation like like my story was being told.
[00:00:51.22] Darlene: This is people's some people's reality. This is their story.
[00:00:56.07] Ruthe: It gave me some kind of power.
[00:00:57.17] Christopher McDonald: Prophetic, thematic, life-changing.
[00:01:02.00] Peter: I still remember the visceral reaction I had to it.
[00:01:04.17] Dianne: It was about freedom. It was about truth and honesty and freedom.
[00:01:10.14] Marco St. John: It was a watershed film, changed the way we see the world.
[00:01:15.03] Title screen.
[00:01:22.28] Scenes of Thelma and Louise at the beginning of the film.
[00:01:25.24] Dianne: Two women living ordinary lives decide to go on a weekend vacation, and part of vacation is to stop in a bar and have a drink.
[00:01:37.16] Ruthe: And uh Thelma starts canoodling with this Texan cowboy, and they're getting kind of close. They're getting a little bit intimate.
[00:01:46.08] Unknown Woman: Then when he's gotten her good and drunk...
[00:01:50.16] Unknown Woman: He was going to rape her, and the only reason he didn't is because Louise comes in and shoots the um the perpetrator and they're now criminalized.
[00:02:02.26] Unknown Male: And the women are off, and the chase begins.
[00:02:06.12] Thelma: Sad if we get caught over a speeding ticket!
[00:02:08.17] Thelma: Morning, ladies and gentleman. This is a robbery.
[00:02:15.14] Policeman: Place your hands in plain view!
[00:02:20.15] Scene with Jennifer making phone call.
[00:02:29.28] Jennifer: That's not much help. It's just going to ring forever, apparently. Um, let's try another one.
[00:02:37.20] Jennifer: It all started 25 years ago when I saw "Thelma and Louise." It was the summer of 1991. I mean, I'd heard it was controversial, but as soon as I saw Louise and Thelma on the screen, I felt connected to them. I stayed with them all the way through, and we went off the cliff together in the end. When the movie was over, I just sat there stunned, absolutely stunned.
My body was there, but I was somewhere else. Over the next three days, I saw the film three more times. I couldn't help but wonder how other viewers were reacting to the film. What were they experiencing? There was no such thing as social media. So I decided to do a research project. I sent out press releases.
[Footage of press releases.]
[00:04:03.22] Jennifer: It was probably you know six or eight months before I got enough responses. By that time, every newspaper and magazine in the country had already published one or more articles. I put the project aside, but I knew someday I'd get back to it. A few years ago, I Googled "Thelma and Louise."
[Shots of "Thelma and Louise" on Google.]
[00:04:35.09] Unknown Woman: I would jump off a cliff with a parachute. I would be into that. But driving off, I know that [wouldn't end].
[00:04:40.26] Unknown Woman/Actress: You know what? I've [been told] Thelma and Louisey right now! What the frigging [glit?]
[00:04:44.28] Unknown Woman: Mom!
[Shots of people saying "Thelma and Louise."]
[00:04:52.15] Jennifer: I reread the questionnaires and the letters that were written to me. I knew then the time had come to get back to the research project. It was unfinished business, and I needed to do something with it.
[Shots of letters.]
[00:05:09.03] Jennifer: I decided to try to find some of these people. I wondered what they would think about what they wrote. Would they agree with their former selves?
[More shots of letters.]
[00:05:25.18] I found people all over the country.
[00:05:34.22] Rene: I got a message saying that uh that you had contacted me through LinkedIn.
[00:05:38.07] Sarah: When you called me and asked me about the questionnaire, I was so surprised. I had no recollection of having filled anything like that out.
[00:05:45.10] Ruthe: When I got a phone call saying, did you fill it out, I said it sounds like something I would do.
[00:05:51.15] Sharlene: I do remember filling out a questionnaire. Um, it seemed long ago and far away, so I didn't think anything would become of it, and I'm really delighted to be here.
[00:06:03.02] Robin: I thought to myself, oh, I think you got the ideal person.
1) Because I can only imagine what I said in my fiery youth about that film, and
2) whatever it was, I've only got better at it.
[00:06:13.07] Jennifer: I included a few other people that I met along the way, the best friend of somebody who'd written to me, the editor of "Thelma and Louise" and two of the male actors.
[00:06:23.07] Thom: People that I meet, you know, they say they say oh, so uh what do you do for a living? I edit movies. And they say, well, do you edit, would it be something that I might have seen? And you say, well, I did "Thelma and Louise." And they say, "Oh, Thelma and Louise. Oh, I love that movie!"
[00:06:39.04] Christopher McDonald: My name is Christopher McDonald, and I played Darryl Dickenson.
[00:06:44.13] Marco St. John: I'm Marco St. John. I played um Earl the trucker.
[00:06:49.18] Jennifer: One thing that comes up is well, what did I say when I was 25 years old? I've changed a lot, and I I'm different now. They want to know, well, can I see it? I want to see it.
[Pictures of people seeing the letters they wrote.]
[00:07:08.20] Selma: Yup, here it is in red in my handwriting because I don't type.
[00:07:12.27] Christi: This is kind of funny to see this after all this time.
[Scenes from "Thelma and Louise."]
[00:07:21.25] Sarah: Women's friendships have always been an incredibly important part of my life, and you don't see those portrayed uh too well or too thoroughly I guess in film often or an an afterthought. Uh, and so it was wonderful to see that be the centerpiece of a movie.
[00:07:40.29] Selma: I think truly that uh women know that their best friend, their best girlfriend is going to be a rock that they can always go back to. I own a vegetarian/vegan restaurant, feminist bookstore, and we have women who come into the restaurant. You know, we grew up together. We’re friends since fourth grade. And, wow! Isn't that amazing? And they care about each other. And you know, one of them's getting a divorce, and they came from all parts of the country to take care of her, you know? So I think that's the truth of the matter it’s just that's not what Hollywood ever wants to portray.
[00:08:19.14] Dianne: After my mother was in her 50s and we started talking honestly about relationships, it that to her her women friends were much more her life and her connection than anything to do with husbands or or any of the men. Not that she had any others, but you know her husband or anything like that. I heard the director talking about women's bonding.
Well, see, that part of it never really was an issue for me because I've never found it in my life experience that women didn't bond. I mean, it was always women, whether it was a card party or a church group or a knitting circle or a feminist group or whatever it was. Uh, I never noticed women having trouble bonding.
[00:08:59.12] Ruthe: When I got the phone call about whether I'd done the questionnaire and about the film, I had just been talking to my best friend Romana, and uh we planned to go to Burning Man.
[00:09:10.18] Romana: We'd been through everything, it seems like, and the the usual and not so usual dramas, the tragedies of life.
[00:09:19.28] Ruthe: That we were going to this fabulous festival, going out into the desert into the wide world, exploring our freedom and our creativity.
[00:09:27.28] Romana: I started calling it our "Thelma and Louise" trip, and I said, you know, instead of going off the cliff, we're going to go into a blaze of Burning Man.
[00:09:39.10] Ruthe: We will go to the edge of cliff, but we will then come home with more strength, power, creative juice than we had before we went.
[00:09:49.15] Marco: All women have a best buddy. They all see themselves as as as Thelma and Louises all over the place out there. And their buddies and them and can take on the world, and they all respond to that and it just resonates.
[00:10:02.08] Louise: How come Darryl let you go?
[00:10:05.10] Thelma: Because I didn't ask him.
[00:10:07.14] Louise: Shit, Thelma. Why, he's going to kill you!
[00:10:11.11] Darlene: So, there were moments between Thelma and Louise that really touched me, moments where they came into alignment and felt close, and then there were moments where you could feel the pull apart, you know, the the where they were where the parameters of their relationship was being strained.
[00:10:30.24] Louise: You can help me try to figure out what to do, all right? I am trying to figure out what to do, but you could try.
[00:10:35.14] Thelma: I did. I had a suggestion.
[00:10:37.12] Darlene: I thought there were a lot of ways where I could watch these two women really play out a relationship dynamic that was important to me. It was important between women but also just relationships in general to acknowledge that that's how it works, you know? And and ideally there are those moments of clarity and closeness and intimacy that feel that feel strong and that keep us going.
[00:10:59.20] Marita: They understand each other in in a very deep and thorough way, and they understand each other's foibles and each other's you know tendencies and each other's problems.
[00:11:09.28] Louise: Think you find your calling?
[00:11:11.20] Thelma: Maybe. Maybe. The call of the wild! Whoo!
[00:11:16.19] Sharlene: The love between human beings, the love between people um is really not necessarily about gender, um but there is um not the sexual element but the um the loyalty, the support, um and love. Love is love.
[00:11:47.16] Thelma: You want anything special for dinner tonight?
[00:11:51.03] Darryl: No, Thelma. I don't give a shit what we have for dinner. I may not even make it home for dinner.
[00:11:57.05] Christopher: Here's here's this couple, and like many couples they've known each other for known each other's for years. And um they are so like you know high school things just kind of goes in. That's what people do in the South. They get married, and but that's the girl I met and the only lover I've ever had kind of thing. It was just this kind of like taking he's taking her for granted, bossing her around, the routine. Dinner's in the oven. You're going where? That kind of thing. And kind of the ownership that he had over her which is true of many couples like that.
[00:12:27.29] Roz: The characters who seemed the least plausible were Thelma's husband. I understood where the character was coming from, but the depiction was almost a caricature. You know, Thelma had the the necklace with the gold T on it, and the husband, I can't remember his name, um had a gold necklace with #1 on it.
[00:12:55.00] Christopher: I had brought in this uh when I graduated from high school I had this this girl who thought it was great that I was an actor. I was an actor and came from this very tiny town in upstate New York, and she was selling um Tupperware out of her car. But she was pretty good at it. So they gave her this #1 pendant, and I thought, where's that #1 pendant that she sent me after she saw "Grease 2?" Oh, there it is. That's Darryl. Put that bad boy on.
[00:13:23.16] Darryl: Okay. If you say so.
[00:13:26.27] Christopher: You gotta be living in the clothes of the guy. So I got this leisure suit that I felt was perfect, didn't wrinkle, looked really good, kind of a bluish tint to it and my #1 thing with my open collar and uh the attitude.
[00:13:43.01] Eric: I definitely run across men who were as selfish and self-centered as Thelma's husband. He seems like a joke and a caricature, and that kind of person is absolutely real.
[00:13:59.09] Sarah: Also interesting was a friend's husband who reminds me very much of Darryl but who found Darryl unrealistic. Uh, that's great. I this friend uh is still a good friend, and she has since divorced her the jackass husband she had in law school who really was so much like Darryl it's amazing.
[00:14:17.19] Ruthe: Despite the cartoon-like stupidity of Thelma's husband, his attitude towards domestic life looked uncomfortably like what I experienced in a 10-year marriage with kids. There are a lot more Thelmas out there than many people imagine.
[00:14:31.18] Darryl: Goddamn, Thelma! Don't holler like that.
[00:14:35.14] Ruthe: I was in this terrible marriage, getting abused, getting hit, getting called all kinds of um obscene names, my children seeing this.
[00:14:45.25] Thelma: Darryl?
[00:14:47.25] Darryl: Thelma?
[00:14:49.24] Thelma: Go fuck yourself.
[00:14:51.11] Ruthe: At that time, that was where I was. That's what I needed to see.
[00:14:56.19] Christopher: I'm driving in this convertible. Top's down. It's a beautiful afternoon. And I look over, and we're at a stop light in Los Angeles. I look over, and the girls go, oh! Look, it’s that guy. It’s that guy! It's that guy from "Thelma and Louise." And, the other girl looks over from the seat and goes, shoot him! That's how viscerally they responded to it. They would just go because they know that that rel- that dynamic, they know that relationship, and they probably have seen it firsthand themselves.
[00:15:28.21] Harlan: Hey! Now what are a couple of kewpie dolls like you doing in a place like this?
[00:15:33.05] June (V.O.): Harlan, when he's in the bar he sees these two women alone. So as uh being representing a ste- male stereotype that way, uh he feels it is his duty and his obligation to somehow, these are two women who need some masculine presence in their life. And he is going to come in and take care of that. And he assumes he is going to have Thelma. He is going to work that. And there's men who just don't take no. And it doesn't mean they're going to rape the women. They just can't believe that women would reject their masculine advances.
[00:16:13.11] Robin: I really strongly was raised as a female not to have a sense that I could say no, that that my role was to please and to um accept and to avoid conflict. And it isn't until I've gotten older that I have really found my voice around that, and I think Thelma just is that woman.
[00:16:34.27] Selma: Women are so confused about what it is they're supposed to be if they're supposed to be heterosexual, they're supposed to want it, you know, and maybe sometimes they don't and maybe sometimes they don't. But they don't have the option of saying no mostly because, well, they're scared or they really like the guy or they don't even want to be rude.
[00:16:54.17] Rene: It took me a long time to get to this point where I felt I was worth defending myself. I I used to if a guy wanted I mean I knew this particular person, and I would go to science fiction conventions and he would come up and put his arm around me and I felt like I didn't really have the right to tell him to leave me alone.
[00:17:14.08] Selma: It's not that women want to be raped, but they don't want to be you know uh women who go to who go to parties at colleges and they drink because they want to be good girls and that they're agreeable. They want to go along with the boys because they want the boys to like them. It's not that they want to be fucked. And the men you know want to get off as much as they can.
[00:17:40.00] Sarah (V.O.): Harlan represents the uh the sort of the chaos and the danger that women are expected to be thinking about all the time, you know? Uh, when you are walking at night. When you are, whatever your circumstance, I you know uh are you doing something for which it you if you get in um dire straits, you are going to be at some level blamed.
[00:18:09.21] Harlan: What's wrong? Come on. What's wrong?
[00:18:14.05] Roz (V.O.): At the time, Harlan pissed the hell out of me um because I think every woman has faced something like that or been on a date or some situation at a party where some guy is going, you know I could I could force you. I could make you.
[00:18:33.15] Sarah: I I feel like the rape scene is is so important. She's just thrown up. She looks terrible. She's you know completely debilitated from having had too much to drink.
[00:18:46.07] Harlan: Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Wait a minute. Where do you think you're going, huh?
[00:18:49.05] Thelma: I'm going back inside.
[00:18:50.08] Harlan: No, no, no.
[00:18:52.04] Thelma: Harlan!
[00:18:53.02] Harlan: What?
[00:18:54.14] Thelma: Hey! Quit it! Stop it! Stop it!
[00:18:56.10] Sarah (V.O.): To the extent there are people who think that rape is just about sexual desire, I think it obliterates that, just completely obliterates that idea.
[00:19:06.13] Harlan: All right. Hey, hey, hey. Just calm down. We're just having a little fun, that's all.
[00:19:10.25] Louise: Looks like you got a real fucked up idea of fun!
[00:19:14.10] Louise: In the future, when a woman's crying like that, she isn't having any fun!
[00:19:22.00] Robin: I think in a lot of ways, women's tears and crying has it's been eroticized, so somehow somehow there's this narrative that a lot of men believe that it's our nature to to suffer for their pleasure or something.
[00:19:39.17] June: I had been working at this feminist collective, and we were all excited. We went in a group to the movie. And we were being kind of rowdy you know during it saying, oh, you know, take care of him, take care of him! We didn't know he she was actually going to take care of Harlan.
[00:19:55.09] Harlan: Bitch! I should have gone ahead and fucked her!
[00:20:01.12] Louise: What did you say?
[00:20:03.00] Harlan: I said suck my cock!
[00:20:05.01] June (V.O.): And then she shoots him when he says you know suck my dick, and all of us, we stood up and screamed and applauding and more, more, more! We thought this was oh, women empowerment. This was great, you know. Finally the women stand up and get a rapist and put him away. And now you know over the years after I left the collective, that's changed for me because when a woman or anyone gets empowerment or a sense of being from having to kill someone, that that says something very wrong. It doesn't seem feminist to me.
[00:20:45.27] Thelma: I think we ought to tell the police!
[00:20:47.07] Louise: Tell them what, Thelma? Just what do you think we should tell them, huh?
[00:20:50.28] Thelma: I don't know! Just tell them what happened!
[00:20:52.29] Louise: Just that a hundred goddamn people saw you get to cheek to cheek with him all night? Who's going to believe that? And we don't live in that kind of a world, Thelma! Goddamn...
[00:21:01.06] Christi (V.O.): Even if nobody was ever going to believe that that was a rape that was about to happen because even Louise you know as as difficult it was as it was for her in the movie, she still had her doubts that that Thelma hadn't asked for it.
[00:21:23.00] Louise: If you weren't concerned with having so much fun, we wouldn't be here right now!
[00:21:27.11] Thelma: Just what is that supposed to mean?
[00:21:28.18] Louise: It just means shut up, Thelma!
[00:21:32.04] Thelma: So this is all my fault, is it?
[00:21:42.14] Romana (V.O.): The society says um you've done something to um to bring this on, and we see all these movies where women are um you know when they're raped um they're usually in a bar and they're scantily you know clothed and oh and oh and it's always implied you know she it's you know she brought this on herself. She's a bad girl. Um, victims don't want to come forward and have um and have uh people question what has happened to them.
[00:22:17.19] Eric: Men's lust is women's responsibility to control. That's the whole assumption that you woman are the temptress, and it's your fault that I'm attracted to you. And so you must monitor yourself, your clothes, your behavior, your demeanor, where you can go, what you can do. It's a radical idea to consider that it may be men's responsibility. It's a radical idea to consider that men should police their own behavior. It's a radical idea that no means no. I mean, how can that be a radical idea? But it is.
[00:22:59.06] Peter: I as a man can go for a walk in the park even late if I want. You know, I may take my chances, whatever. But if a woman were to do that, you know, um uh there's just such a um vulnerability I think. I don't know if the proper term is like a rape subculture, but that whole notion of that women are available to men for being degraded verbally, physically, I'm not sure we've come very far. Uh, in fact it makes me sad to think that um we probably haven't.
[00:23:40.17] Christi: The "she asked for it" phrase has to do with all the rape culture stuff that's still going on now. I think that's why it was still devastating to watch this movie again just a few days ago because even though 25 years have passed and even though there's more acknowledgement that if a woman says no, she means no, she's not going to be believed. We we see this in the courts now. We see this everywhere. And it would have been nice if in this 25 years that had changed.
[00:24:35.26] Dianne: At one point in time, I went to the Michigan Women's Music Festival. I'd been there more than once, but one particular time when I went, I stayed the whole week. It it was like living in a different world. It was a time when I did not have to feel afraid, protective, watch my back, or any of that. And I had a whole different experience of relaxation, the way that it could be if women were not always the subject of attack.
[00:25:10.26] Andrew: In my lifetime, um we have stigmatized drunk driving. In my lifetime, we have the phrase "stalking." Uh, we have the phrase um "sexual harassment." There are laws. You know, when you have when you objectify something and you put language on it, then you can have laws about it that that prohibit behavior. It doesn't always change culture, but over time people grow up and begin to understand that these things are are harmful.
[Jennifer looking at paperwork.]
[00:25:44.11] Jennifer: It's very interesting, uh the the responses between men and women. Sometimes I sometimes or even exactly the same but other times you see the male/female um views. And the men will talk about cars and helicopters and um tractors and you know all the machinery that's in the film. Or they love the fact that it's a road film. This man he says, "My emotions went high one scene, low the next, but I could also feel myself in the back of Louise's Thunderbird cruising down the road."
[00:26:29.04] Jennifer: And let's see. This is another man. He is 38. In the very last scene, he would change the motor of the car to a very high-performance engine and watch the car propel across the horizon. So um men do relate to different things in the film. [laughs]
[00:26:55.22] Jennifer: Uh, women will pick up on on little things like when Louise tosses the lipstick out of out of the car.
[Close-up of letter. Louise tossing lipstick out of car.]
[00:27:21.11] Jennifer: Oh, this one talks about the candy bar. She loved the way Geena Davis ate the candy and stuck it back in the fridge. What a real-life thing for us to do! And this reminds me of a conversation I had with Geena Davis, and I asked her specifically about where that candy bar idea came from because I identified with it so strongly. And she said that her acting coach at the time came up with that idea.
[Movie scene with Thelma putting the candy bar in the refrigerator.]
[00:27:56.24] Jennifer (V.O.): Some of the women comment on Brad Pitt. They kind of liked him. Or they might not have liked the character, but you know they they uh could understand why he was able to beguile Thelma in the movie.
[Close-up of letter. Scene with Brad Pitt.]
[00:28:22.19] Ruthe: Just handsome as the devil.
[00:28:24.09] Eric: Brad Pitt's figure is fantastic. He's really great looking, so there's that.
[00:28:29.11] Darlene: The bad boy, you know that you just cannot resist. Everybody's known one. And sometimes they're fun. And he turned out to be on one hand and also disastrous on another.
[00:28:44.20] Rene: Thelma seemed to be too stupid to be believed. Okay, I did realize that back then. Uh, she didn't understand why they were in trouble or that sleeping with someone you don't know may not be the wisest thing in the world. Okay, he's Brad Pitt, but you know, I didn't probably didn't know back then, uh very young stringy guy, but you know and he told her he was a robber.
[00:29:03.22] Thelma: What do you do?
[00:29:05.14] J.D.: I'm a robber.
[00:29:06.17] Rene: And she had that massive amount of money which is still a lot of money even today, back then lots more, just left it lying around, didn't hide it, didn't even think about it. She's yeah too stupid to be believed, really.
[00:29:21.21] Romana: On the one hand, I really identify with the passion and um um but I also um identify with the don't know how to say the the disturbing fact that this that Brad Pitt, this guy is a not just a con artist um, well, I guess you know a a a what a a grifter. So I'm really conflicted about that scene. It's just another kind of dissonance there. And maybe that's well if I think about it it's the that same dissonance I had at 24, you know, when I was messing around with the bad boy, right?
[00:30:05.00] Thelma: Do I seem different?
[00:30:08.01] Louise: Well, now you mention it, yeah. You you seem like you're crazy or you're on drugs.
[00:30:12.29] Thelma: J.D. came back. Oh, God, Louise! Oh, my God!
[00:30:16.01] Louise: Oh, no!
[00:30:16.25] Thelma: I finally understand what all the fuss is about!
[00:30:19.01] June: With her becoming more fulfilled and a take charge, she had to had good sex first. So that's I found uh interesting where you know she's so excited, so that she had this wonderful encounter with J.D. because she's never had an orgasm before, and she goes into you know to see um Louise and she's so and showing off her hickey and all and um Louise is so happy for her that she's finally you know had this in wonderful great sex sexual encounter.
[00:30:50.25] Louise: Oh, darling. I'm so happy for you. That's great! I really am. You finally got laid properly.
[00:30:57.22] June: And then she realizes, oh, J.D. They go back. He's stolen all their money.
[00:31:05.01] Thelma: Louise. Hey. Now you listen to me. Don't you worry about it. You hear me? Come on. Stand up!
[00:31:16.08] Robin: I love the scene where Thelma and Louise switch roles. Their money has just been ripped off, and Louise falls apart um on the hotel room floor. Then Thelma becomes the strong one and takes control of the situation. It's a beautiful scene because it shows women taking care of each other and the myriad roles we play for one another. Oh, that gives me uh chills. Um, I did have that same reaction when I watched the film again.
Um, I am kind of uh moved that I that that was an original reaction that I had at the time, that I kind of caught that that fluidity and um and I think when I was first talking about the why they represent all women, I think it's that kind of they're two sides sides of the same coin and um yeah it was a really beautiful scene.
[00:32:07.11] Thelma: Oh, isn't that nice? That guy was always so nice. Best drivers on the road.
[00:32:11.22] Roz (V.O.): The continuing encounters with the truck driver were scenes that I remember the most. You know, the sexist pig jerk with the nude girlie mud flaps on his rig. Everyone has seen guys like that, and worse, many of us have had to deal with them. Once a girlfriend and I were driving home from college with her CB on. We passed a truck and suddenly started picking up a description of two blonde beavers in the very location where we were driving.
[00:32:40.23] Thelma: I bet you even called us beavers on your C.B. radio, didn't you?
[00:32:43.15] Truck Driver: Yeah. Sure did!
[00:32:46.07] Thelma: Damn! I hate that! I hate being called a beaver, don't you?
[00:32:49.29] Roz: It was so very insulting and would have been degrading had we given any credence to the sorry sack driving the truck. I can't believe I said that! And his and his equally sorry buddies who get off on cheap behavior like that.
[00:33:09.04] Marco: I'm totally down here in the South now, and people would say, well, didn't you think that guy was a little... I said, let me tell you something. There are guys out there who are like really like that and not I mean 24/7, not just in a movie and a little. They are really you know they are that broad, that outrageous, that you know what have you.
[00:33:31.16] Marco: [Louis] said uh uh Ridley would like you to go outside and take a look at the truck driver. And outside in the uh waiting room were all of these guys waiting to read for the trucker. And there was I remember I never forget there was one guy sitting there, and his face looked like it was made out of saddle bag leather. I mean, these guys, they looked like they parked their 18-wheeler right outside the door. And then about I didn't hear anything for about five days or a couple of weeks, you know. And then they my agent called up, and he said they want you to play the truck driver.
[00:34:04.13] Marco: See, I'm a Shakespearean actor. I started my career. I played Hamlet down in San Diego Shakespeare Festival. And that and in a way that truck driver was like a low comedy character out of Shakespeare.
[00:34:16.01] Robin: I have been a young woman woman. I have hitchhiked. I have dealt with truckers who responded that way. I have actually almost been um kidnapped um by stupidly getting into a truck when I was you know hitchhiking. I have had truckers treat me really well and respectfully, and I've had truckers almost rape me. Um, and certainly all of those gestures and harassment.
[00:34:42.28] Sarah: I I have a memory of uh when I was in college probably uh I don't know five years before "Thelma and Louise," six years. I was walking to a friend's house, and a man uh was in a truck and he was circling the block around me. And uh then after and I noticed it and uh at some point he yelled to me, and he was masturbating. And so then he drove off, and I memorized the license plate, and I went and I to my friend's house and called the cops and um they came and eventually the the they you know they picked him up.
He was charged. He pleaded guilty, and that was that. But what really struck me was the way the cops they were very they were nice to me, but they um they would there was a lot of chortling about the whole the nature of this crime. They thought it was pretty funny. Uh, so they one thing they kept saying was like, oh, and this happens to old woman. They're they're too excited. They can never
[00:35:42.15] remember the license plate. And I remember I was so disgusted, so disgusted by that. And I really I was too cowardly to say what I was thinking was which was the I guarantee you, no woman gets excited by watching a stranger in a truck masturbate. I mean, it's just ludicrous if you think this is in any way um titillating or appealing to a woman.
[00:36:08.24] Dianne: Being harassed by men in public is such a common occurrence that we don't even think of it any more because it's just life for us. It's what life is for us constantly fending off offensive remarks. I mean, when I was younger, I did a lot of driving back and forth between Wisconsin and California where I lived at the time. At that time, there were not all the freeways, so you were doing a lot of two-lane roads. You were stopping in a lot of small towns. You were going into a lot of little restaurants.
So when I was younger, I got a lot of the sexual harassment kind of stuff. As I got older and my age now, I get a lot of elder harassment like what are you doing out or you know shouldn't you be minding your grandchildren or some stupid remarks like that. Or you sure you know your way, or can you really read a map and just constant. And this is a daily occurrence for women in this world. We just think it's part of life, and it shouldn't be part of life. It should not be part of life.
[00:37:07.18] Truck Driver: You girls about ready to get serious?
[00:37:13.04] Louise: I think so. Follow us.
[00:37:17.00] Marco (V.O.): And they lead me off the road, and they're going to lower the boom on me. They're going to really let me have it. They've made that choice. They've turned. Their characters have turned. They're not going to put up with it. They're not going to take it any more.
[00:37:28.03] Rene: He's God's gift to women, and they will all fall in love with him. Certainly how he was, you know. I mean, he didn't he didn't doubt that they actually when they said follow us to a deserted place did not doubt them that they wanted to have sex with him. So and of course they didn't change his mind by blowing up his truck, although you know um because oh well, all women are bitches just kind of confirmed that. But he's not the kind of guy you could change his mind.
[00:37:54.04] Robin: And so when they just like take him out and he thinks he's going to get he's going to score with them and he just like cannot it takes him a while to come to even realize that that is not how that's going to go down.
[00:38:05.06] Thelma: Huh? How'd you feel if somebody did that to your mother? Or your sister? Or your wife?
[00:38:12.00] Truck Driver: Huh? What are you talking about?
[00:38:15.07] Robin (V.O.): Oh, it's just such a fun scene. It's so gratifying. Uh, it is such a fantasy, and honestly how else could you do it except with a gun. You know, that's kind of the heartbreaking part. It's like, they defied the law and they got a gun. Otherwise they're not going to be able to teach him a lesson. And of course, look what the ultimate lesson they got taught for doing that.
[00:38:37.10] Louise: I don't think he's going to apologize.
[00:38:39.13] Thelma: Nah. I don't think so.
[00:38:47.01] Trucker: You bitches! Ah! You bitches from Hell!
[00:38:51.20] Sharlene: I loved his free lesson in Feminism 101. There should be consequences for insulting casual abuse that women are presumed to tolerate or at least enjoy some kind of compliment. Yet few women, much less movie makers who had the balls to call them on it, is a delicious payback for all women. So thanks, Callie.
[00:39:14.15] Christopher: I mean, Callie talks about it a you know a lot in her interviews about how she was just sick of being an actress and just being one of the girls and the wife of the girlfriend or the husband, you know, the girl from other big [Saturday guy]. And she was sick of it. So she sat down and wrote this story which is just to this day empowering to women. And so you don't have to be that person. You can actually live your life, live your dream.
[00:39:40.06] Jennine: The second half, you know, or or particularly the last third, it starts to get very heavy. The tone is much heavier and somber and you know kind of sad. And uh so you can see clearly how um Scott took that and um just sort of you know inverted it, tried to uh counterbalance the heaviness of it um which serves uh which she is saying because it's the story of um sort of spiritual freedom. You know, in her mind they became free.
[00:40:10.02] Marita: We see Callie Khouri's script, that’s really focused on these women, intersect with Ridley's Scott's direction.
[00:40:19.01] Scene of Thelma and Louise driving across the landscape. Still of Ridley Scott.
[00:40:21.14] Thom (V.O.): Somebody said to me once uh that had worked with Ridley a lot is that Ridley basically actually wanted to be a painter. And when you look at the framing of some of the shots and and the particularly the wide shots where so much is happening, and they look so beautiful and you think that is amazing. Or sometimes you know it starts on a train way in the distance here, and you come over nearer the girls, you know? To set that up, that's quite quite an effort. Nowadays of course you digitally put the train in, and you know like you wouldn't have to wait, you know? But he got it in his head exactly how it should be.
[00:41:00.05] Jennine: What I also just love about Ridley Scott's influence is the way he um you can really see how he had a real fun time bringing in um every kind of imagery he could think of to create a very masculine world around them. You know, there's like there are constantly big huge trucks going by them or or big you know machinery oil you know pumps and uh just every possible you know machine or there's some old tractor thing going by in the background. Or my favorite is this guy just hanging out by the side of the road pumping weights. [laughs]
[00:41:39.05] Marita: All of these are are elements of um a kind of masculine Marlboro man American landscape. And let's not forget that Scott is originally British. He's got this kind of European love of the American West. And so we have then all of these icons in the path of these two women who are breaking all the rules just by being on a road trip, right? Being on a road trip and driving through this landscape.
[00:42:10.29] Marita: One of the very clever ways in which the film does this uh which comes from both the direction and the script is that it puts the men, in this case now the police who are investigating and trying to track down these women in a very domestic scene, and this is contrasted with the women on the open road, right? So in that sense there's a a a role reversal, a gender role reversal there.
[00:42:34.23] Sharlene: I thought the direction was brilliant. I really enjoyed the wet/dry contrast of male and female um and although I I think archetypally one might think of uh the women's symbolism as being wet, I think the the guys are just drenched with semen and their hoses uh and their water bottles. I believe uh uh when she when Geena Davis uh stumbles over the Brad Pitt character, he's squeezing water from his bottle and shooting out. So it could be more semen-like.
[00:43:08.04] J.D.: Shit!
[00:43:08.14] Thelma: Sorry!
[00:43:09.11] Darling: Are you all right? You okay? Did I cause that?
[00:43:12.09] Thelma: No. I'm sorry.
[00:43:14.23] Jennifer (V.O.): In addition to people sending in questionnaires, they could also answer them on just on the telephone because I had an 800 number. I have a lot of responses on tape that I've kept, and I'm hoping it doesn't fall apart on me, but I'd like to to just share some of those.
[00:43:39.01] Unknown Female [?] (on tape): Today is Monday, August 19. It's about um 10:40 in the morning, and um I also think that the film is absolutely spectacular beyond belief and I've already seen it three times and uh I think we should have 20 more just like it.
[00:43:55.24] Unknown Male (on tape): It was a very heavy film. Um, uh, we were all not expecting that. We thought it was going to be a lighthearted comedy. Being a gay male, um I really had felt um really put upon by the the butch macho heterosexual male .
[00:44:12.27] Unknown Female (on tape): I think this is a really important film. Um, you know, I'm not surprised men are reacting negatively, but it's a bit disappointing.
[00:44:23.12] Unknown Male (on tape): Well, we're pretty freaked out about the movie and uh rightfully so. You know, that kind of film where um men when you start talking to them about it, pretty soon they're sort of holding onto their dicks thinking you're going to kick them or something.
[00:44:37.04] Dianne: I I think all of the male characters were real in that they they represented some facet of men who exist in the world, and I I would venture to say I have met every one of those men at some point in time.
[00:44:54.03] June: All of those men reminded me of males in my family. Sorry, Dad! Um, this...
[00:45:03.00] June: That attitude of privilege and know-it-all and uh women should be um ignored or just follow men that just uh belittling there. That's you know that's still in my family. But I think right now when now that I'm 50, I see the vulnerability in their masculinity when back in in my 20s I didn't see that.
[00:45:30.01] Robin: I'm not aware of any men in my life that have a strong reaction to the film, but I am aware that there has been criticism from men, and I kind of think it's ridiculous. And I think the sensibilities of men are a little fragile when they have a strong reaction to this one film that may stereotype them.
[00:45:50.02] Marita: I think it's important to note that actually the script is a little kinder uh to the men, especially the character of Jimmy uh who plays uh Louise's boyfriend…
[00:45:59.17] Jimmy: I just came to see you, baby.
[00:46:01.28] Marita: Uh was much, much more sympathetic in the script and and you really have moments of tenderness between him and Louise. But it turns out that um [Sarandon] then thought some of that was kind of unrealistic in in terms of the broader story of the film, and she did uh have a hand in rewriting a few scenes with Jimmy in them.
[00:46:26.20] Sarah: The character of Jimmy I uh he he seems like a very familiar type. I mean, I've uh not so much from my life, but I've certainly had friends both, well, I've had male friends who were follow this pattern and and female friends who've been involved with men who really I I think as uh as Louise says in the movie only are interested in um getting serious about a relationship when they think the women is walking out the door.
[00:46:54.04] Peter: So the relationship with Louise and her boyfriend I it was never convincingly established to me why it was such a dead end. It seemed to me that they were they had a lot of common. They seemed you know why wouldn't she sort of connect with him in a in a way?
And um he seemed like a a really kind of appealing guy in a way with all his flaws and limitations. And he was a very honest person, I thought. And [honestly] there was the the chemistry between the two of them. And so to me it wasn't dramatically from the point of view of the pl- advancing the plot she had to renounce that relationship, but I'm not sure as a character why she had to do that.
[00:47:36.24] Louise: Jimmy? Do you love me?
[00:47:49.06] Jimmy (V.O.): Yeah.
[00:47:51.03] Louise: Never mind. Never mind. Never mind.
[00:47:52.01] Jimmy (V.O.): Yeah.
[00:47:52.14] June: Jimmy just wants to be good when he has to be good when he's pushed to the wire there. As Louise is getting away from Jimmy, she wanted to go away to teach Jimmy a lesson, and Jimmy got "the lesson" somewhat, but he thought it was that Louise just wanted to be married or engaged. And that's not what she really wanted. It wasn't about being married. It was about being taken seriously as a person and have her needs met, her her emotions met, not when he's backed into a corner but to be conscious of that all the time.
[00:48:35.16] Jimmy: Because uh you know I I don't want to lose you, and I get the feeilng like you're going to like split. Permanently.
[00:48:42.25] Louise: That's not a good reason to get married.
[00:48:47.03] Jimmy: Well, I thought that's what you wanted.
[00:48:50.03] Louise: I did. But not like this.
[00:48:54.12] Sarah: Some part of you wants to see Louise and Jimmy end up together. You you want to see that rescuing of Louise by Jimmy, uh and the movie just doesn't let you have it. And ultimately that certainly makes it a much better movie. Uh, it's interesting how much we we want to see things like that though in a movie.
[00:49:13.28] Marita: It really is about men and women and how men and women relate to each other. Here we have situations in which men and women misinterpret e-each other all the time, right? Uh, uh Thelma and her husband, they just talk right past each other, and we see this also with the um with the detective who misinterprets the women's behavior quite frequently.
[00:49:38.23] Sarah: The character Hal, it's interesting. I have friends who've watched the movie who who could don't like his character, don't like hi- that that they prefer they don't they either felt "Thelma and Louise" didn't need a you know a hero that way, but I felt like the character of Hal for me was an important emotional component of it because otherwise it was just so uh dark about the role of men, and it was nice. I I found it relieving to have one man in the movie who was a decent human being. He seemed to be the only men who man in the movie who could could see them.
[00:50:17.10] Hal: Louise, I almost feel like I know you.
[00:50:19.22] Louise: Well, you don't.
[00:50:21.04] Hal: You're getting in deeper every moment you're gone.
[00:50:23.01] Louise: Would you believe me if I told you this whole thing was an accident?
[00:50:25.25] Hal: I do believe you. That's what I want everybody to believe. The trouble is, it doesn't look like an accident.
[00:50:33.18] Dianne: That officer, Hal, he could not understand what Thelma and Louise were thinking, what they were going for: Freedom. Not a good deal in jail, not a short time in jail, but freedom.
[00:50:47.27] Peter: I feel he was put in as the token sensitive male. There was little in the film to convince us of his sincerity. He's uh very flip with the husband. Again, he [talks about] you know pretend that you're listening, kind of women like that shit.
[00:51:01.28] Max: If she calls, just be gentle. You know, like you're really happy to hear from her. Like you really miss her. Women love that shit!
[00:51:15.27] Darryl: Women love that shit!
[00:51:17.29] Peter: And he doesn't seem to really we don't know anything about his relationship with women in general. He he seems to be put in there just for the sake of some sense of decency or help create the the tension or so and so forth. We really don't have a sense of him as a well-developed character in terms of understanding why he feels, particularly about these women or women in general.
[00:51:44.15] Romana: Hal had to be there to make the guys in the audience feel comfortable, you know feel good about themselves, still feel good about themselves like oh you know oh it's not you. We're not talking about you because you would naturally I would I would assume that um many men would want to identify with Hal, you know? And not the you know the rapist, you know, or something like that.
[00:52:11.24] Darlene: By the end I liked him and like I I found him to be authentic and in some regard caring. I mean, he was obviously playing that out in his conversations with them and so on. But I I think I decided that on some level he meant it. On some other level, he was doing his job. And I think about how that is in some ways probably a more typical experience for men and women for that matter, but certainly men in their masculine role that on some level they care, and they want to do right. And on another level they just are they are in a a box as well. They're in a masculinity box. He was in a police box.
[00:52:53.11] Romana: Here you have this wonderful incredible film. I mean, something that had never been done before, and you know probably changed my life in some ways you know that I'm not aware of of [big old counts], right? And then he's going to insert the old narrative. There there needs to be a man, a father figure at that, to come in and save these women.
And that's very similar to films on slavery, you know, "Roots" or the something like that where um African-Americans um slaves are being tormented, and there's always out of all these terrible plantation owners, there's always this white male savior figure, you know? And that makes something really wonderful happen of you know, of abolishment of slavery or whatever it is.
[00:53:53.06] Louise: Oh, shit! Thelma! We're getting pulled over!
[00:53:57.12] Thelma: You want to step into the trunk, please?
[00:54:00.18] Police Officer: Please! I have a wife and kids! Please, stop!
[00:54:04.26] Thelma: You do? Well, you're lucky. You be sweet to them, especially your wife. My husband wasn't sweet to me, and look how I turned out.
[00:54:11.20] Sharlene: That scene represents the role reversal which is the the funniest part in which Thelma then acts like a trooper. She becomes the trooper and says you know hands on the car. Hand you know like hands behind your back. Get down! Get down! You know. I was like, excuse me, but now I'm I'm the trooper. And that the um power flows out of out of the gun, not out of the person because the trooper breaks down. He's terrified for his life. He begins to cry as anyone would plead for their life when a gun is to their head. So um the it's the circumstances of the power create the terror. Um, it's not the gender. It's the circumstances of power.
[00:54:56.25] Thelma: Okay. That it? Okay. Officer, I'm real sorry about this.
[00:55:03.17] Louise: I apologize also.
[00:55:05.19] Sharlene: I mean, I love that. I love that. That is funny.
[00:55:08.29] Sarah: I'm sure it did not make me laugh. I thought it was a a you know it I just didn't. Uh I I've I think I was very distracted by the fact that I thought the cop who was getting locked in the trunk of his car could really have died. It was very distracting to me in terms of being able to see the humor in this scene.
[00:55:28.08] Eric: This time, the second time seeing the film, I felt a lot more sympathy actually for this young cop who was really afraid that he was going to die.
[00:55:38.09] Rene: I would also have changed the scene where they locked the truck uh trooper in the trunk of his car. I mean, [I think] it was the middle midday. It was hot. Sun is shining. [Granted], okay, movie magic. He I guess maybe he didn't die but guaranteed to kill him. He would have been unconscious by the time that that uh the biker came along.
[00:55:56.04] Rene: Um, he probably died. He certainly wouldn't uh last long in a metal box in the searing sun, no water, no air circulation. It made uh "Thelma and Louise" seem as callous as any man in a cop show.
[00:56:25.04] Jennifer: Anybody that's familiar with with "Thelma and Louise" is probably familiar with this scathing article that John Leo wrote, and he's the one that called the film "toxic feminism." Toxic feminism on the big screen. And it's unbelievable some of the things he says in this article. I have to admit that recently when I went back and read the article, I did find here and there a couple of places where I did agree with him and could see where he was coming from.
But what what really came through my mind after I read it again was that he's never been threatened like a woman's been threatened, and women are threatened all the time. And I feel that that's why he couldn't really understand the film the way a woman understands it, and that's probably
[00:57:25.05] true of many of the men who were critical of the film because they're not afraid every day. They don't live in fear like women do.
[Shots of articles.]
[00:58:25.23] Paul: So it's bizarre is is to criticize the film as being violent when you know so many American films are drenched in violence. I think for the critics in that, it makes me wonder, you know, they're really criticizing the film because it's violent from an objective standard or because it's violent in the sense that for a change you have women, you know, strong women who are responding with violence in a way that's normally reserved for men.
And um but I think that when people are seeing, I think when certain critics said, oh, we think it's it's overly violent or whatever, I think it's more of a social context that the violence is happening. Because I think if you look at it in terms of like say a body count, by Hollywood standards a body count of three including the two protagonists is nothing.
[00:59:11.22] Dianne: Eh, watch TV. Watch a movie. Women are killed day after day after day after day in crime shows, in dramas, in comedies, everywhere. Women are killed. Women are killed. Women are killed. Women are killed. One man is killed in a movie, and it is absolutely a crisis. Men are oh! It's just open season on men! Excuse me. I guess that shows how much they really are afraid of us after all. So reading that and what I just said shows not much has changed in all these years, has it?
[00:59:45.02] Thelma: Looks like we could get on this Road 81 here and head down towards Dallas.
[00:59:49.25] Louise: No, I don't want to go through Texas. Find some way we don't have to go through there.
[00:59:53.08] Rene: I had put motives uh to uh uh Louise's actions that are not there in the film.
[01:00:02.20] Thelma: You want to go to Mexico from Oklahoma, but you don't want to go through Texas?
[01:00:06.19] Rene: She wanted to avoid Texas. This was a big plot point, and that was not the the dumbest thing that they did that led to them not surviving, um but I had this idea that she had not just been raped in Texas but that she had killed the guy who had done it and had gone to jail. And so or she was wanted in Texas. I I had really I had remembered a very strong motive for not wanting to go through Texas other than I hate Texas. It's awful there.
[01:00:35.26] Louise: Thelma, you know how I feel about Texas. We're not going that way!
[01:00:39.17] Rene: So I had um made her actions for avoiding Texas more reasonable because if you are running for your life, adding a day's travel is not a good idea, and if it's just because you hate Texas, you know, suck it up and drive through.
[01:00:56.15] Thelma: Yeah, I know, Louise, but we're running for our lives! I mean, can't you make an exception? I mean...
[01:01:01.10] Louise: Thelma, I'm not going to talk about this. Now you need to find another way or give me the goddamn map and I will.
[01:01:07.00] Marita: She's not entirely irrational uh as she puts it.
[01:01:11.24] Louise: You shoot up a guy's head with his pants down, believe me, Texas is not the place you want to get caught!
[01:01:16.26] Marita: It is uh the most American of states. It's got cowboys. It's got a lot of guns. But I also think that the film has Texas stand in for the law in general, for the law that is essentially a patriarchal law, and in that sense Texas is not something that is only in the state of Texas. It's more a kind of symbolic aspect of American society. And that means that even driving around Texas won't save uh the two women from their fate.
[01:01:53.17] Thelma: It happened to you, didn't it?
[01:01:57.03] Louise: What? What are you talking about?
[01:01:59.24] Thelma: In Texas. I mean, that's what that's what happened, didn't it? You was raped?
[01:02:09.21] Sarah: I think you know rape and abortion are I think the two areas that even when women are very close, you can know them a long time, and they might not tell you about that having occurred. Those are still very secret and taboo which is another important aspect to this movie I think to show you know uh to start getting away from the idea that it is uh shameful to have been attacked by a man.
[01:02:42.23] Louise: Look, I'm warning you. Just drop it. I'm not going to talk about that. You understand?
[01:02:50.11] Thelma: Yes.
[01:02:51.19] Christi (V.O.): My friend was raped late one night in the parking lot of her dorm, and it was uh '86 or '87 and it was a fr- it was frustrating because the the university wanted to keep the female students safe, but they didn't want to talk abut what had happened. And I think that was a lot of I think that's still an attitude now. You know, a lot of women don't like to talk about it, or people don't want them to talk about it because there's an attitude that it's that rape is something a woman should be ashamed of.
[01:03:38.02] Sharlene: I had a friend who was raped and went through a trial um in which her accuser, her accuser's attorney would raise up my friend's sexual history um and she had to defend her innocence rather than persecute uh the man who broke into her window and held a knife against her throat and raped her. Uh, and that is the way many rape trials um were conducted.
And even though in my friend's case it was quite evident that she did not ask for it, um the man broke into her uh apartment and is one's one floor apartment and she had taken a shower and she was painting um um on the on the floor you know like um doing art on the floor. And they said, you were you were dressed in a robe? And the
[01:04:38.16] her defense was yes, I I had taken my nightly shower. And you were painting? It's like, yes. I was I was doing art in my robe. And somehow that was some indication of her unsuitability um and led you know but contributed to her victimization as if the first rape was not punishment enough, but her sexual history went on trial in this man's defense. And it was horrid. She used her friend's car. She drove out to the outskirts and um and committed suicide with a gun that she had bought at a pawn shop.
[01:05:26.20] Dianne: I've been raped twice and attempted a third. The first uh rape I was a teenager, and it was three boys and I had walked my friend home in the small town of Wisconsin where we lived. And she lived on the other side of these woods. And I walked her home because she was afraid to walk home by herself. Coming back, rather than taking the streets, I cut through the woods, and they were in there waiting for me. It was three of them, and I was a big girl then.
I'm a big girl now. And I fought like the Devil, but it did not I did not prevail over three of them. So the second one was in San Jose. I was in my 30s. And my neighbor's boyfriend, we were friends, and she lived on the third floor. I lived on the second floor in an apartment, an old converted house. And I woke up with her boyfriend on top of me raping me. He you know again I kicked and fought, but it was too late. I mean, by the time I even woke up.
[01:06:26.16] He swears the door was unlocked, and he thought that I'd invited him in. And I know the door was not unlocked. That was a complete and utter lie. Now neither one of these did I report to anybody. No neither rape did I report to anyone, never even told anybody about it, maybe my friends, but I certainly didn't I knew no one would believe me. No one would do anything, so I didn't report anything. The third attempted rape was I was in law school.
So I was a little bit older, in my early 30s, and angry, angrier every day. So I was driving home from law school, and I had a flat tire and I was changing it. And these three three guys, two guys, two guys go oh, we'll change your tire. We'll change your tire. I said, I don't need you to change my tire. I don't need you to change my tire. I can change my own tire. Well, they just insisted and changed my tire, and then they hopped in my car. Oh, and give us a ride down here! So I gave them a ride a little ways, and then I could hear them. I mean, they were
[01:07:26.15] discussing raping me as if I weren't in the car. And I thought, okay, fine. I got to a red light, turned off the car, took the keys, got out and walked away, left the car just parked right at the light blocking everybody. Horns started honking. People started screaming, etc., and I just walked away and left the guys sitting in the car. And pretty soon they got out of the car and ran away. And I went back and got in the car and drove home, shaking, shaking! I was so angry, crying, I was so angry. That's the kind of rage I'm talking about.
[01:08:03.01] Jennifer: At at the time I saw the film and I was working down on the research project day and night for months, I didn't really have time to think about what that profound impact was. Later, I mean much later, I I did think more about the film and tried to process what was it all about and why did it have such a an impact on me. And I realized [sighs]...
[01:09:00.00] Jennifer: I realized that it it had to do it had to do with all the women I know who who have been raped, and there's so many. There's so many, good friends, really good friends and their mothers and their sisters and their even grandmothers and and then the worst of it all was my sister. My sister was developmentally disabled, and she was an adult. You know, she was probably I don't know 45 at the time, and uh she was raped. She was able to talk about it. She was able, she didn't use the word "rape." She didn't know that word. But she was able to explain what this man did to her and why she was
[01:10:00.18] bleeding when she came home. And and so we knew who did it. We knew exactly who did it. This man in fact was uh a law enforcement officer. And it wasn't the first time that he'd raped women. As it turned out later, I learned from my sister's social worker that another woman he he had access to told her a couple years prior to that that he had raped her, and she did not believe her client.
Of course, the district attorney uh was involved and was doing uh investigation, and then the district attorney told me that he wasn't going to prosecute and I couldn't understand that. And he said it was because even without being charged, he had learned that the perpetrator
[01:11:00.21] had hired the best criminal defense attorney in the city. And he said that defense attorney will make mincemeat out of your sister. And I knew it was true. She could not stand up on a witness stand and answer cross-examination questions like that. So so like this man got off Scott free, and we know that he's raped other women. It wasn't even it was more than just the two of them, and nothing nothing has been done. Nothing ever will be done. So um when I saw a film where finally I felt like finally in all of these horrible situations a rapist was held
[01:12:00.06] accountable for what he did, this was the first time I've ever seen that.
[Shot of Grand Canyon.]
[01:12:39.24] Andrew: They become more of the land. By the end of the film. they're both so windblown that they look they they they look like Monument Valley. They're in they're in orange, you know. And and and they're dirty and they're they're happy.
[01:12:53:22] Christopher: And they're at their almost darkest hour on this crazy journey they're going on. They can't go back, and they they have this moment of peacefulness, of going, oh, my God! This is a life-changing ride we're on. The mountains are lit up sort of surrealistically, and they're driving through this most artistically beautiful gorgeous it's a wonder of the universe, this this landscape.
[01:13:27.13] Thelma: Something's like crossed over in me, and I can't go back. I mean, I just couldn't live.
[01:13:39.21] Louise: I know. I know what you mean.
[01:13:43.22] Thom (V.O.): I know when I was actually cutting that scene, I actually, oh, God. I don't know if I I was really I mean even now I'm thinking about it like you like we're really tearing up, but it was so beautiful the way she done did that scene, but both of them, actually.
[01:13:59.06] Christopher: She's just a sweet little ditzy thing in the house, and her arc turning into the Thelma at the end of the movie is just it's a thing of beauty is what it is, both of them. They just became these outlaws that um you know they became uh the iconic Thelma and Louise.
[Scene showing lineup of police cars.]
[01:14:28.14] Robin (V.O.): But when you just look at that like lineup, it just represented the military and all all of the institutions. They were going to have to go through the courts s- s- you know system and the social work system and the prison uh system and stand before judges and get lawyers and almost all of them were going to be men because that is the society we live in. That is who for the most part controls controls the system and has power. Um, that doesn't mean that women don't have power. We don't have institutional power.
[01:15:01.07] Marita: The law cannot make sense of the trauma of rape. The raw the law cannot make sense of women with guns.
[01:15:10.03] Hal: Hey, don't let them shoot those girls!
[01:15:12.24] Max: These women are armed, Hal! This is standard. Now calm down! These boys know what they're doing.
[01:15:17.15] Darlene (V.O.): My experience with uh m-military and police power is that I don't think they would have survived. That's just that's my gut feeling, that things were so amped up. They were armed. They were considered dangerous. They had run. Um, I I think that it was like a tinder box.
I think it would have taken nothing for all of those guns to unload on them. Uh, as a matter of fact, I was kind of surprised. If she if she had been a black man, she wouldn't have been able to reach for the gun, I don't I it seems like I'm remembering that she reached for the gun while they were facing away from the police as though she was going to turn and fight. I think she sort of suggested I'm not going to be captured.
[01:16:05.22] Thelma: What are you doing?
[01:16:07.25] Louise: I'm not giving up!
[01:16:09.01] Darlene: Based on what I know about policing and outcomes and and tense situation with situations with people that are armed and dangerous, my guess is the fact that they had the time to choose how they were going to die was the fact that they were white women.
[01:16:24.28] June: My feminist community had to negotiate how the ending came to be. You know, the women are sitting there, Thelma and Louise. They're sitting there in the car because they knew that the guns are all around. The men are all around them. And the their own guns, they've loaded the guns. And you know it's going to end badly. You just didn't know how. And then when Thelma and Louise kiss, the women that I was with say, oh, this is so empowering. It's to see the answer is women loving women after all because the world of men is so evil. It's only women doing it for themselves.
[Scene with Thelma and Louise kissing; June continuing in V.O.]
[01:17:13.02] June: And then they drive over the cliff. So there's a little incongruity there. You know, there's this wonderful moment we're together, and now we're going to die together. And in a lot of ways, you know, if you look at the male p- empowerment motifs, you know, the Butch Cassidy or the cowboys or the Alamo is the men, they all die together in this great epic of m-masculinity and empowerment. And now you have these women bonding, and they're going to commit suicide.
[01:17:42.26] Romana: Would I take my own life you know in this situation? Yeah. So um and the answer is be was yes. It the the y- or you know the pros outweighed the cons for me. Yeah, so I can't imagine any other ending, not for me.
[01:18:05.00] Rene: Okay, they were resisting male oppression. She left her husband, and it's just so clichéd. They get punished for it. They weren't eh she resisted, and of course she cannot succeed. But I don't find it inspirational, and I felt that they made a lot of stupid decisions and that led that they could have they could have made it to Mexico with no problem if they'd been smarter, if they hadn't been, yeah, that it if they'd been more empowered, they they would have made it. So, yeah, I know a lot of people are going to disagree with that.
[01:18:37.08] Jennine: If they were to say get away, get to Mexico, you know, get jobs at Club Med, you know, drink margaritas by the sea, um that would what that would have been saying it it would have been creating this sort of Hollywood fantasy about um that women who are uh who are um responding to male aggression with aggression of their own, women who are standing up for themselves in the world, uh they can get away, they can get the have this great life. And what Khouri was really saying is no. The way the world exists right now, that cannot happen.
[01:19:13.02] Thom: If they'd actually somehow survived, it would be awful, you know. It would be not true to the spirit of the film. And the idea of them being taken away in handcuffs, you know, would be something like what? That would be so miserable.
[01:19:28.14] Dianne: If they had been captured, which they were going to be, how would they have spent the rest of their lives? Under the domination of men. They would have spent the rest of their lives, however short or long that might have been, under the domination of men. And neither one of them wanted that. So it's a bad choice between two bad choices. We often have to make choices between two bad choices. And they chose liberty, as I hope would I.
[01:20:02.04] Thelma: Okay, then listen. Let's not get caught.
[01:20:07.16] Louise: What are you talking about?
[01:20:11.18] Thelma: Go!
[01:20:18.16] Louise: You sure?
[01:20:22.13] Thelma: Yeah! Hit it!
[01:20:25.10] Andrew: There was one moment in "Thelma and Louise" that I seeing it again recently that I don't think I'd properly reckoned before. The very end the moment where they know they're going off the cliff and um there's such immense love between the two of them. That intimacy and and that love I think is is pretty overwhelming. And that that hit me a lot harder emotionally than um it did any other time I've seen the film.
[01:20:56.05] Christi: You're 25 years late picking up on that!
[01:21:01.19] Selma: I do believe Thelma and Louise live on flying over the desert and in our souls forever. And I still feel that way. And it's a moment in time. And that's what any story is. It's a moment in time. And if that moment gives you courage and you recognize yourself in it, then that's that's what fiction movies, you know, that's what it's supposed to do. Songs, you know, they're supposed to give you that feeling of something that you can believe in.
Distributor: Bullfrog Films
Length: 86 minutes
Grade: 10 - 12, College, Adults
Closed Captioning: Available
Existing customers, please log in to view this film.
New to Docuseek? Register to request a quote.
Marilyn Waring demystifies global economics from a feminist perspective.
The story of renowned photographer Tina Modotti, acclaimed for her innovative…