Thelma and Louise (1991)

Read the script
Extract from “Thelma and Louise” (PDF).

Directed by Ridley Scott and written by Callie Khouri, Thelma and Louise is a road movie with some of the trap­pings of a western. Two ordinary women go on a road trip, cross over the line when they murder a would-be rapist and end up as fugit­ives and outlaws.

A female buddy movie, rather like a feminist version of Butch Cassidy and The Sund­ance Kid (with echoes of Bonnie and Clyde in the mix), it has a simil­arly roman­ti­cised iconic ending and enjoyed much of the same cult success when it was first released.

 Setting up a story

In the opening pages of the script, the prot­ag­on­ists are intro­duced in scenes deftly reflecting their ‘life situ­ations’: Louise (Susan Sarandon) works as a wait­ress in a diner but she is ‘too old to be doing this’. Thelma (Geena Davis) is doing the dishes in her night­dress in her cluttered kitchen.

With great economy, using telling details, the writer conveys a sense of the two women’s lives and the frus­tra­tions under­lying them. There are no lengthy phys­ical descrip­tions or psycho­lo­gical profiling and no fore­casting of what is to come.  In a matter of a few pages, the story is launched on its way.

Scott, as the director, adds his own embel­lish­ments. (This follows a title sequence showing desert scenes and open high­ways that already gives us a sense of the true ‘world of the story‘). Many of these are visual but some develop the traits of the main char­ac­ters with little incid­ents like Louise telling off the teen­agers for smoking and Darryl, Thelma’s husband, quar­rel­ling with his workmen.

The script extract is taken from what was prob­ably an early draft but the essen­tial quality and inten­tions remained unchanged in the screen version – a sign of a productive and respectful collab­or­a­tion with the film-makers.

David Clough  August 2011

Screen­writer Callie Khouri talks about the film in 2010


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