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What I Learned From Thelma and Louise

Warning: Spoilers Ahead 

    Thelma and Louise was directed in 1991 by Ridley Scott. It’s a story of growth, friendship, and self-discovery. At the start of the movie, Thelma and Louise are introduced as two women trapped in mediocre lives. Thelma is an ill-treated housewife; while Louise works in a diner struggling to gain appreciation from her boyfriend. The two decide to go on a weekend vacation in an attempt to feel a little bit of freedom. The trip starts out alright with the two stopping at a bar and dancing well into the night. Things start to go wrong when Thelma is nearly raped. Louise steps in and saves her, but murders the attempted rapist in the process. From this point on the two friends are on the run.

    The friends have committed a crime and must escape the law – a common theme among old westerns. As they run from the cops they begin to experience life the way they want to experience it. Things are suddenly happening on their terms, as they make the choice to run instead of turning themselves in. They leave their love interests behind and rely on each other to survive this perilous journey. I have not seen a film comparable to the character transformation in Thelma and Louise. From the opening scene to the ending, Thelma and Louise completely transform from the people they were, when trapped in their sedentary lives, to the people they had always hoped to become by the time the credits rolled.

    Growing up I watched a lot of classic western films. A lot of stories about cowboys making these unexplainable bonds with each other, friendships that go beyond death. I loved these movies. I loved them because of the action, the unbreakable bonds of friendship, the adventure story. I did not, however, love the women in these movies. They were rarely, if ever, represented as strong independent characters and if they were they never achieved the same friendships or heroic status as the men did.

    Watching Thelma and Louise allowed me to connect with these characters, who were able to achieve that unbreakable bond of friendship, as well as turn into a different sort of hero. The sort of hero who is unapologetic for who they are and who stands up for themselves and those closest to them. Thelma and Louise were able to fit the character type of the western cowboy, all while being women. I was in awe of their characters, in awe of their loyalty to each other, in awe of the fact that it took me 20 years to watch such a life-changing film.

    Thelma and Louise are the heroes I have been waiting for in a film, and they have inspired me to live life the way I want to live it; unapologetic with lots of badassery and friendship. ​

Campus Coordinator at Brandeis University 
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