The hidden story of Thelma & Louise.
The 1991 Ridley Scott film, starring Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis, became very popular and highly influential, but few fans know the back story. Thanks to former Newsday reporter Aikman (Saturday Night Widows: The Adventures of Six Friends Remaking Their Lives, 2012), we do now. Drawing on extensive interviews with many of the film’s participants, the author creates an entertaining and in-depth film history. In the late 1980s, Callie Khouri, a college dropout from Kentucky, ended up in California, working for a small production company. Frustrated by the “male-driven, violence-tinged” films of the time, she felt like “she had something to say, something that mattered, and she knew it belonged on film.” Khouri wanted to write an authentic movie she wanted to see. Basing her main characters on a best friend and herself, she came up with Thelma, a “cheerfully scattered housewife,” and Louise, a “tightly wound coffee-shop waitress.” The movie started as a comedy but then went “someplace completely unexpected, someplace wilder and weighted with conflicting impulses toward emancipation and dread.” Aikman does a terrific job of showing how the film found the right director in Scott—who loved the film’s “romantic vision of Americana” and its “mythic grandeur”—an impressive cast (including Davis, Sarandon, Harvey Keitel, and Brad Pitt), settings, and the controversial, dramatic ending. Scott had hoped for the convertible to go off a cliff in the Grand Canyon but settled for one near Moab, Utah. The first car failed, the second just “sailed away.” Thelma & Louise received six Oscar nominations, but only Khouri won, for best original screenplay, the first woman writing on her own to win one since 1924. The book is enhanced by informative, brief biographies of key players and mini-essays on pertinent topics like the history of women in film.
For fans of the iconic film, Aikman provides everything you wanted to know about it and then some.