Book Review: BFI Film Classics: Thelma & Louise, by Marita Sturken • Glam Adelaide

Book Review: BFI Film Classics: Thelma & Louise, by Marita Sturken

MEDIA STUDIES: Cinema academic Marita Sturken examines the film as one of those rare films that encapsulates the politics of its time.

An authoritative book.

The British Film Institute is one of the premier cinematic organisations in the world. Its series of monographs about individual films has recently been revised and had new titles added.

Part of this series, Thelma & Louise examines the seminal 1991 film directed by Ridley Scott and written by Callie Khouri. Originally published in 2000, Sturken’s new edition includes an introduction by her, reasserting the importance of this film and imploring “let’s keep watching it”.

Starring Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis, Thelma & Louise tells the story of two female friends, heading off for an innocent weekend away in a mountain cottage. Along the way, Thelma is nearly raped by a man in a bar, and Louise shoots him dead. From then on, the women become fugitives.

Remarkably divisive when it was first released, it defied genres: buddy movie, chick flick, road movie, feminist tract – it was all of these, and something else besides. It even divided opinion amongst feminists: did the two women take on masculine roles, or did they defy feminine ones? Sturken examines all of these arguments and more.

Along with the thematic discourse, Sturken also explores visual tropes that litter the movie, such as mirrors, guns, and clothing. She discusses in depth such things as the role of the various men in the work, the soundtrack, and even the famous car itself: Louise’s 1966 T-bird.

Although a fairly serious work of film discourse, Thelma & Louise is also a treasure for any fan of the film. It contains a wealth of stills from the movie, a full cast/crew/soundtrack listing, and many references for further reading.

In handy pocket-sizes, beautifully published, and cheap, the BFI Classics series of books is a gift for any film fan. Some of the other titles available in the series include Star Wars, The Big Lebowski, Throne of Blood, The Seventh Seal, and Mother India.

For further information about BFI Classics and a full list of titles can be found in the online BFI Shop.

Reviewed by Tracey Korsten
Twitter: @TraceyKorsten

Distributed by: Bloomsbury Australia
Released: May 2020
RRP: $24.99 paperback, $17.99 eBook

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