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Thelma & Louise (20th Anniversary) (1991) Print E-mail
Monday, 14 February 2011
ImageWhen we think of Ridley Scott productions we think of “Blade Runner” and “Alien.”  But Scott also made a name for himself with 1991’s cinematic female adventure, “Thelma & Louise.”  Many have viewed this film as a turning point for women in cinema.  Still, there are others that insist that “Thelma & Louise” does nothing but bow to the whims of men.  You can decide for yourselves.

“Thelma & Louise” brings together two powerful actresses in roles that are typically given to men.  Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis give performances that define a decade.  The transformation of these women that takes place over the course of the film is strong and solidly formed.

Geena Davis stars as Thelma, a chaotic, busy with nowhere to go woman with a deadbeat husband.  Susan Sarandon is Louise, an uptight career waitress that is remarkably organized.  The friends start out on a journey to have a weekend away in the mountains but end up on a road trip escaping the law.  Thelma insists on stopping at a bar to have a good time.  Drinks and dancing commence and we get the sense that something isn’t going to go right.  Thelma has about a dozen too many drinks and finds herself out in the parking lot about to be raped by Harlan.  Luckily, he is stopped at gunpoint by Louise.  Shooting his mouth off provides just the final push that Louise needs to pull the trigger.

Thelma proceeds to freak out, while Louise insists that they can’t go to the police, as they won’t buy their self-defense story.  Remember, this film takes place prior to the point in which it is common for women in cinema to be abused and protected by the law.  Another cinematic aspect that this film helped to develop.  Thelma and Louise jump in the 1966 T-Bird and head for Mexico with the express interest of not going through Texas.  To put that in perspective, Arkansas to Mexico without going through Texas.  You do the math.

Along their journey, Thelma has the biggest transformation to the eye for the audience.  She develops a sense of purpose, something that she never had as her husband never let her do anything.  She lets her hair go wild.  She develops a carefree persona that robs gas stations, holds state patrol officers at gunpoint and has passionate moments with a charming, hitchhiking con artist.
Louise starts her journey as uptight and very cautious.  We get the sense that something happened to her in the past but sorry to say, we never get the full details.  However, she begins to transform herself into a carefree woman as well.  However, because she goes back and forth a bit until the end, the audience doesn’t relate to her transformation as they do with Thelma.

Thelma and Louise have set out upon a course in which there is no going back.  They find themselves running from the law but also having the time of their lives.  Inevitably the trip must end.  However, despite the infamous ending I will not spoil it for those that for some reason or another may have never seen this film.

“Thelma & Louise” doesn’t have the strongest subplots.  However, the journey and performances are epic.

MGM provides “Thelma & Louise” on Blu-ray with a 1080p, AVC encode at a 2.35:1 aspect ratio.  I was anxious to see this Blu-ray as the DVD release has such poor image quality.  Thankfully, the image quality here is near pristine.  The original source has been faithfully preserved.  Grain structure is intact so there is no need to worry about excessive digital noise reduction.  The contrast levels are strong providing for excellent color depth.  The colors are mainly resolved to earth tones as the film takes place mostly in the dusty plains.  Black levels are the only real weak point of the film.  For the most part they are a bit on the gray-light side during the darker scenes.  While this isn’t a huge distraction, it does make for a awkward moment here and there.  Shadow delineation remains strong throughout and edges are sharp without the use of edge enhancement.  There are some soft focus shots throughout the film, but those stem from the original production.  Fans of the film will be very pleased with this video transfer.

As a 1991 film, the original audio was done in Dolby Stereo.  The Blu-ray comes with the 5.1 audio track in DTS-HD MA.  The audio here is a bit hit or miss I am sorry to say.  The dialogue remains intact throughout, with only two noticeable dropouts.  Still, the dialogue lacks that frequency response that I expect for the age of the film.  The surround channels provide the biggest problem for the audio track.  The phantom placement and spectral splitting creates a poor surround environment.  Spectral splitting is the worst offender, lending many sequences to having a weird phasing shift forward and backward as frequencies split between front and rear channels.  This creates a smearing of audio, detracting from the primary sound elements.  There are some original balance issues between the dialogue and effects, but this is not the fault of the transfer.  The LFE channel is not as full sounding as I hoped, likely due to the phase issue introduced when creating an non-original LFE signal.  Overall, the audio track is listenable, but the shifts from good to bad and back get to be a bit of a nuisance.

As seems to be the case lately, there are no new special features on this Blu-ray release.  There are two audio commentaries.  The better of the two is the Ridley Scott commentary, which is highly informative.  The lesser is the commentary with Sarandon, Davis and the writer.  While interesting in parts, it isn’t worth it.  “Thelma And Louise: The Last Journey” is a one-hour documentary the production of and the reaction to the film.  Incredibly, there are 40 minutes of deleted scenes.  The movie is already over two hours in length.  That is followed by an extended ending with optional Scott commentary.  The original making featurette is located on the disc but is worthless given the documentary.  The disc rounds itself out with a Glenn Fry music video, storyboard comparisons and trailer/TV spots.

“Thelma & Louise” is a great journey, only hindered by some of the weaker subplots.  Still this is definitely own title.  The audio quality is lacking a bit in terms of the surround mix, but the video quality is a wonderfully upgraded from the SD DVD.

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