Gender War in Thelma and Louise

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Thelma and Louise

Thelma and Louise is a 1991 film that was directed by Ridley Scott about two women friends, Thelma who is a housewife, played by Geena Davis and Louise, a waitress played by Susan Sarandon. The two decide to go on a fishing trip, which unexpectedly turns into running away from the authorities after Louise uses a gun and kills Harlan, who tries to rape Thelma. The major theme of the film is about feminism as it depicts how women are disrespected and mistreated through gender wars resulting from male violence and how women struggle to overcome this by trying to establish autonomy which leads to ultimate tragedy, death.

Major Plot Twist: The Scene with Harlan

The major scene that brings a plot twist in the film and gives it a new direction till it ends is when Louise shoots and kills Harlan, a character played by Timothy Carhart, who tries to rape Thelma in the parking lot. The scene is characterized by conflict, dramatic action and emotional development all in one frame to shows how men, disrespect women, and think that they can use them whichever way they want, and when Thelma refuses, she receives beatings and when she tries to fight back, Harlan becomes even more violent and calls her names using worse and disrespectful curse words, which the producer chose to intensify the level of disrespect. During the scene, the camera focuses on Thelma's face in a close-up shot to show how terrified and scared she has become as a result of the mistreatment by Harlan. Her waist is also shown in a close-up shot to show how Harlan tears up her clothes, and also focuses on their feet just when he was about to force himself into her. The sounds produced as she sobs and from the slaps she receives intensify gender violence even more. To enhance the effect on the audience, the producer decides to take the violence to a place with just the two characters, before Louise shows up holding a gun. Louise's face shows anger and disgust when she tells Harlan that when a woman cries like Thelma is means she is absolutely having no fun. Louise shoots Harlan who continues to be disrespectful to them through the vocabulary that he uses in the scene to continue to show disrespect to the two women.

Gender War Depiction

Gender war is evident right from the beginning of the film. Thelma as a housewife is dominated and controlled by her husband, which makes her fearful of even telling him she would like to go fishing with Louise. The fact that she has to ask for permission already shows the producer's intentions of letting the viewers know the status of females in marriages. She says her husband, Darryl would never let her go out and all he wants is that she hangs around the house. Louise goes ahead and asks Thelma whether Darryl is her husband or her father, a joke that translates to how he handles and controls her like a child, as seen the way he talks to her disrespectfully just as he leaves home for work. Thelma carries a gun that she herself admits she does not know how to use. It is the same gun that would later instill fear in her rapist who almost assumes that Louise, being just a woman would do him nothing and brasher her off until she points a gun at him. This symbolizes the fact that women sometimes possess the power to command respects and prevent themselves from being victims of gender violence but lack the awareness of how to do so.

Thelma's Transformation

When Thelma calls her husband for the first time to tell him about her whereabouts, he cares less and goes ahead to put her on hold as he watches football. As their conversation continues, she tells him that he is her husband not her father, and at that point she begins to realize that she can actually defend herself from him, depicted by the vocabulary she uses just before she hangs up the call. Thelma is a character that the producer transforms throughout the movie from being a mere naive and submissive housewife to a robber and one who can actually take control of a situation for instance when they are pulled over by a police officer. Even her dress code is changed by the produces to show she obtains independence. It depicts the transformation that women have to undergo to establish autonomy.

The Lesson for Disrespectful Truck Driver

As the two women drive on their way to Mexico, they encounter a disrespectful truck driver, and whom they lure and teach a lesson not to disrespect women. Louisa asks, “How would you feel if somebody did that to your mother, or sister, or your wife?" ... "you say you are sorry or I'm going to make you sorry…” After this, they blow up his trailer when he refuses to apologize. The producer also uses high angle shots in the film especially towards the end during the police chase to show just how many police vehicles chase Thelma and Louise who are not even hardcore criminals, until Thelma says it is a whole lot. The two women then decide to commit suicide, their act being a final female self-determination, them being fed up with how women who have experienced male violence are inadequately treated by the gender-biased law institutions.

September 25, 2023




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