When they floored their Thunderbird off a cliff rather than surrender to the law, Thelma and Louise became icons of female rebellion, provoking strong reactions from viewers who felt either empowered or outraged by the duo’s transgressions of women’s traditional roles. The 1991 film quickly became—and continues to be—a potent cultural reference point, even inspiring a bumper sticker that declares, “Thelma & Louise Live!”
In this insightful study of Thelma & Louise, six noted film scholars investigate the initial reception and ongoing impact of this landmark film. The writers consider Thelma & Louise from a variety of perspectives, turning attention to the film’s promotion and audience response over time; to theories of comedy and the role of laughter in the film; to the film’s soundtrack and score; to the performances of stars Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis; to the emergence of Brad Pitt as a star and male sex object; and to the film’s place in the history of road and crime film genres. Complementing the scholarly analysis is an in-depth interview of screenwriter Callie Khouri by editor Bernie Cook, as well as reviews of Thelma & Louise that appeared in U.S. News & World Report and Time.
Offering myriad new ways of understanding the complex interrelations of gender, identity, and violence, Thelma & Louise Live! attests to the ongoing life and still-evolving meanings of this now-classic film.
Introduction. "I Can See Clearly Now"
Chapter 1. "Something's Crossed Over in Me": New Ways of Seeing Thelma & Louise
Chapter 2. Getting Hysterical: Thelma & Louise and Laughter
Chapter 3. Hearing Thelma & Louise: Active Reading of the Hybrid Pop Score
Chapter 4. Interplaying Identities: Acting and the Building Blocks of Character in Thelma & Louise
Chapter 5. An Outlaw-Couple-on-the-Run Film for the 1990s
J. David Slocum
Chapter 6. "What All the Fuss Is About": Making Brad Pitt in Thelma & Louise
Chapter 7. Interview with Callie Khouri, December 19, 2002
Appendix I: Commentaries
Toxic Feminism on the Big Screen, John Leo
Gender Bender, Richard Schickel
Is This What Feminism Is All About?, Margaret Carlson
Appendix II: Filmographies
About the Contributors