Tag Archives: film

Movies I Love: Thelma & Louise-The Last Great Frontier for Women Protagonists

25 Nov

I first viewed Thelma & Louise in a screenwriting class I took in college. I became immediately enthralled with the production because I had never become so emotionally attached to any character in a film before. But why? What makes this movie so unique?

I found that it was much more than a female version of the classic road film. Thelma & Louise really takes on a feminist perspective as the two women (played by Susan Sarandon & Geena Davis) leave behind their daily lives in order to find adventure and freedom from societal and patriarchal constraints. The actual road in this film along with their quintessential Barbie convertible represents their ticket to freedom. Both women find themselves in unhappy relationships and depend on each other for the only good and solid relationship yet experienced.

Gaining authority throughout the film through the unfortunate, yet encouraged use of guns and violence, these women take charge and enter what normally on the screen is viewed as male behavioral characteristics. Thelma and Louise become confident, assertive, and fearless for the first time.  This sharply contrasts the other road films where men narrate,and women are visual stimuli, or sexual objects the merely meet along the way. I think feminism in relation to this film presents itself in the spacial equality between men and women in terms of what both genders are able/expected to do, in personal characteristics, actions, and lifestyles. Feminism give women agency to step outside their culturally created gender roles and perhaps take on a job or activity or lifestyle that is not traditionally “female”, and thus allows for the freedom of choice, which is what I think is the core of this film.

However, the film also recognizes them as outlaws who must be punished  in someway for their deviant behavior–that  the “wild” woman” will not be met without consequence. Some critics think this counteracts the freedom and feminist ideals that the film was promoting all along.However, the suicide is the women asserting their freedom and claiming themselves; Thus they are no longer bound to submit to the law, to men, to their suppressors. I find this so empowering.

Since the original release  in 1991,the 20th anniversary of the film was met with a panel discussion of how far women had come twenty years later. “This movie would never get made today,” sighed one of the panelists, and the audience members murmured their assent. It’s shocking enough that it was distributed in 1991, but at least back then American women were experiencing something like momentum: Anita Hill stood up for herself at Clarence Thomas’s confirmation hearings, Callie Khouri won an Oscar, and, when four women were simultaneously elected to the United States Senate, 1992 was dubbed the “Year of the Woman.”

Thelma and Louise 2

When Film Breaks Boundaries?: The Character of the Femme Fatale

8 Oct

“She’s a bit of a con-woman, something of a grifter. A hard-edged kind of criminal…she keeps wavering on this line of, ‘Is she a good guy or a bad guy?”         -Christopher Nolan


Deadly, alluring, mysterious, triple-crossing, and hot–the Femme Fatale is an old and oft implemented archetype in film. Whereas most female characters are doting or damsels, the femme fatale is seductive, in the most manipulative manner, and she keeps some of our favorite leading men under pressure in many a classic scenario. Broke husband in jail? Upgrade to his rich boss. Hot wife trapped in a loveless marriage? No problem, murder him for the money and gas a private eye to cover for you. We’re talking ruthless women who leave simpering, gullible men broken-hearted in their wake at best, but a dead body or three isn’t out of the question either if the situation calls for it.

The femme fatale rejects the conventional roles that mainstream society chose for women. The idea of Femme Fatale evolved form the character Salome in the old testiment, who used her sexual power to have John the Baptist beheaded.

Quintessentially in film noir, the femme fatale tries to achieve her chosen desire by ruthlessly lying, manipulation, and sexual allure, which often ends in her own demise and the destruction of the men that fall under her charm. These strong, independent, powerful, women debuting in cinema seem to only be punished in the end. This is because the femme fatale is a construction of a paternalistic society, and and reflection of misogyny.

In modern film, the character has evolved into more of a superheroine. Director Richard Gray describes that “in the first decade of the new millennium, representations of technology, pleasure and sexuality have intersected in films with female superheroes.” Not only do the women of these films exert their sexual power like the classical femme fetale, but they are also smart and physically strong – rejecting typically ‘feminine’ traits which traditionally restrain the femme fetale. While many critics may interpret these films as catering to an audience that crave an independent women, Gray argues that this is for male audiences who like to watch sexualised ‘unattainable’ women.

So is the femme fatale an illusion of empowerment? I think message is that a woman’s worth still lies in her beauty and for both the classical femme fetale and modern sex goddess, only beautiful women can hold any power. Nevertheless, I still like the idea of Catwoman kicking some ass. Maybe that’s why my license plate is FFATALE…