…and the quest to see everything

Image Erudition: Thelma and Louise

ph. MGM

I first saw Thelma and Louise in its entirety on AMC. Rape scenes should make the most of us uncomfortable, but what makes this one so unsettling is how its choereographed and lit. Medium close-up of Thelma (Geena Davis), medium close-up of salivating skeevy rapist Harlan, close-up of Thelma’s bum, close-up of feet as the two go on an unconsented paso doble, all of them back-lit. The third thing on the list got to my nerves because we’re watching the light fabric of her dress caressing her body, if you know what I mean. I haven’t watched the channel in a long time, but it has a glare-y finish than other channels, this scene is bright and for that matter the desert scenes are more arid. The second time I watched this was in CTV, and this time there’s less lighting in that scene and I notice the lighthing elsewhere.

Oh, and that Thelma’s body is depicted in the same objectified way when she makes love to a hitchhiker JD (Brad Pitt). Both men exploit her. I’m not sure how aware director Ridley Scott is of the similarities between the two scenes.

Jonathan Rosenbaum talked about the unpredictable verve that Davis and Susan Sarandon being in their nuanced performances, which matches the film’s electric unpredictability. The average shot length of the film is slightly more than six seconds and we can actually hear the dialogue, so the film is THAT set up. But the film produces a documentary tone with the cars and trucks along the road, like when the titular Thelma and Louise (Sarandon) make a pit stop while escaping the crime scene.  On the interstate, their conversations with JD get interrupted by the trucks honking while they’re passing by.

Speaking of their first pit stop, there’s a lot of abject in this movie. Salivating men, vomit, the women’s faces bloodied or with stained make-up or dirty since they haven’t had a proper shower in forever, Thelma’s husband stepping on his pizza. Which also reminds me of their two transformations. One, that Thelma goes from being the one who has to hand over the money and dependence to Louise to being the gun-brandishing store robber. Two, that they came from dress-and-headscarf wearing Southern belles to women you’ve avoid if you happen to walk in to a Lynrd Skynrd concert, not that the latter is a bad thing, mind you.

I also noticed while screen capping the movie that the characters spend a lot of time talking on the phone, the women mostly talking to men (Harvey Keitel, Michael Madsen). Unfortunately the women don’t hang up on time.

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4 responses

  1. “I first saw Thelma and Louise in its entirety on AMC. Rape scenes should make the most of us comfortable”

    I know it’s a type Paolo, but it made me laugh.

    I do like this one, I’m constantly flipping between which red-head is my favourite. This duo, for me, stands with duos like Davis and Baxter (sorry, I do think they’re evenly matched). Two different actors, not equal but equivalent both doing fine work.

    March 15, 2011 at 3:38 pm

  2. Corrected. Thanks.

    Yeah, I know right? Two redheads in the same movie? When is that ever gonna happen again? I also just realized how many redheads we had in the 90’s. Do Emma Thompson and Susan Sarandon count as redheads?

    And yeah, it’s like they always have to cast Amy Adams with brunettes and blinds like they’re afraid of something.

    March 15, 2011 at 8:32 pm

  3. I count Sarandon, but not Emma….question though. Does Annette qualify? She does for me.

    March 16, 2011 at 4:02 pm

  4. I don’t know. I’ve only seen Annette as a blond. And I can’t remember what her hair in The American President was like.

    March 16, 2011 at 8:14 pm

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