The money is then stolen by Thelma’s new lover JD, who in the process teaches her how to rob a convenience store, which enables them to acquire money to continue running from the patriarchal system, yet getting them in to deeper trouble, to the point in which there is no turning back. Dargis describes men as ‘signposts’ along the way, yet the fact that males are seen less in the film gives them a behind the scenes controlling status, like an invisible creature who has the power to give and to take away. Carlston mentions that it seems implausible that Thelma would be so trusting of men after her near rape experience.
When they arrive at the first hotel Thelma goes to the pool in a provocative bikini, while the camera adopts the male gaze of Thelma as an object (which got her into trouble in the first place). This implausibility may be directing us to the concept that although men provide the crucial turning points in the plot narrative, they don’t provide all of the reasons for the changing personalities and styles of the female characters. Louise doesn’t immediately throw away her makeup after the first incident of killing the rapist because she and Thelma suddenly decide they don’t want to be objectified anymore for safety reasons.
It’s a gradual process which is brought to light in the scene in which they are driving in the night, and a series of dissolves from the face of Thelma to Louise and back again shows how similar they are now in looks. Their hair is wild, no make up or jewellery (Louise traded hers for a practical cowboy hat) and similar clothes. Carlson suggests this is part of their transition to becoming men, yet although they aren’t made up they don’t look like men. I think the point is that they don’t care what they look like any more, they aren’t trying to be something else, as we can see when Louise throws away her lipstick.
The narrative is definitely about change, and becoming who you want, not what others want you to be. In this case it is irrelevant that the characters where forced into this lifestyle. This challenges our conception that women should be a particular stereotype, as these women act somewhat like men in certain ways and like women in others. This change is hinted at in the first shot of the desert scenery which is in black and white, then slowly merges into colour.
The fact that the scenery is dull and is slowly enhanced also echoes the story of Thelma and Louise, whose lives are enriched when they try to escape from that which was keeping them subserviant. They managed to achieve some freedom, if only for a short while. Yet as much as Thelma and Louise challenge typical conventions and ideologies, the ending repeats the common view on women in movies. If a woman steps outside of her place in society, she must either repent or die. That they chose death rather than repentance shows that they had become unwilling to give in to men anymore, and I guess in their own way they won.
Yet this still suggests that there’s no room in society for women to be themselves as opposed to what men want them to be. The photo taken at the beginning of the trip flies away, signifying the end of the road.
Bibliography Making a Good Script Great Linda Seger Film, Form and Culture Robert Kolker ‘Thelma and Louise’ and the Tradition of the Male Road Movie Manohla Dargis Is This what Feminism is all About? 1 ‘Is This What Feminism Is All about? ‘ by Margaret Carlson and ‘Thelma and Louise and the Tradition of the Male Road Movie’ by Manhola Dargis.