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Thelma & Louise: 20th Anniversary (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

February 9, 2011 by  



“Thelma & Louise” is one of those rare, special, iconic films that don’t come around often in Hollywood. Two extraordinary actresses in strong character leads, “Thelma & Louise” is a well-written, well-directed and well-acted film. And now, as this magnificent film celebrates it’s 20th anniversary, the film has never looked and sounded better as it does now on Blu-ray. Highly recommended!

Images courtesy of © 1991 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Studio Inc. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Thelma & Louise: 20th Anniversary

FILM RELEASE DATE: 1991

DURATION: 129 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (2:35:1), English, 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, French 5.1 DTS, Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish

COMPANY: MGM/Twentieth Century Fox

RATED: R (for Strong Language and Some Violence and Sensuality)

RELEASE DATE: February 8, 2011

Directed by Ridley Scott

Written by Callie Khouri

Producer: Mimi Polk Gitlin, Ridley Scott

Co-Producer: Callie Khouri, Dean O’Brien

Music by Hans Zimmer

Cinematography: Adrian Biddle

Edited by Thom Noble

Casting by Louis DiGiaimo

Production Design: Norris Spencer

Art Direction: Lisa Dean

Set Decoration by: Anne H. Ahrens

Costume Design by Elizabeth McBride

Starring:

Susan Sarandon as Louise Sawyer

Geena Davis as Thelma

Harvey Keitel as Hal

Michael Madsen as Jimmy

Christopher McDonald as Darryl

Stephen Tobolowsky as Max

Brad Pitt as J.D.

Timothy Carhart as Harlan

Lucinda Jenney as Lena, the Waitress

Jason Beghe as State Trooper

The adventurous twosome can now be seen like never before!  THELMA & LOUISE arrives February 8 for the first time on Blu-ray from MGM Home Entertainment in time to celebrate the 20th Anniversary of the film.  Buckle up for the road trip of your life or relive the thrills once again with the star-studded cast including Susan Sarandon (Dead Man Walking, The Rocky Horror Picture Show), Geena Davis (Beetlejuice, The Fly), Brad Pitt (Inglorious Bastards, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button), Michael Madsen (Reservoir Dogs, Kill Bill), and Harvey Keitel (The Piano, Taxi Driver).

Directed by action master Ridley Scott (Black Hawk Down, Gladiator) from an Oscar®-winning* screenplay by Callie Khouri, Thelma & Louise is a thrilling, full-throttle adventure hailed as one of the best road movies of all time. Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis star as accidental outlaws on a desperate flight across the Southwest after a tragic incident at a roadside bar. With a determined detective (Keitel) on their trail, a sweet-talking hitchhiker (Pitt) in their path and a string of crimes in their wake, their journey alternates between hilarious, high-speed thrill ride and empowering personal odyssey even as the law closes in.


Thelma & Louise – Film Clip: “Excuse Me, Ma’am”

Thelma & Louise – Film Clip: “Now’s Not The Time To Panic”

Thelma & Louise – Film Clip: “Y’all Want a Drink”

In 1991, the American road movie, “Thelma & Louise” captured America’s attention.

One for it’s strong female lead characters starring Geena Davis (“Beetlejuice”, “A League of Their Own”, “Stuart Little” films) as Thelma and Susan Sarandon (“The Rocky Horror Picture Show”, “The Witches of Eastwick”, “Bull Durham”) as Louise but also was heavily debated in American media about America’s infatuation towards the movie and what detriment that such a movie can have on society.  But also as the film would have resonance towards viewers for women’s independence and calling upon Hollywood that having strong female lead characters in a film does work and also can be a financial success.

Directed by Ridley Scott (“Bladerunner”. “Alien”, “Black Rain”) and written by Callie Khouri (“Mad Money”, “Something to Talk About”, “Divine Secrets of the Ya-Ya Sisterhood”),”Thelma & Louise” was a commercial success grossing over $45 million in the box office and received six Academy Award nominations, winning one for “Best Original Screenplay”. The film would also be instrumental in launching the careers of Geena Davis, Brad Pitt and writer/director Callie Khouri.

In February 2011, “Thelma & Louise” will be celebrating its 20th Anniversary with a Blu-ray release courtesy of MGM/Twentieth Century Fox.

“Thelma & Louise” revolves around two friends, Thelma Dickinson (played by Geena Davis) who is a housewife always kept at home by her controlling husband Darryl (played by Christopher McDonald, “Happy Gilmore”, “Requiem for a Dream”, “The Iron Giant”).  One day her friend Louise Sawyer (played by Susan Sarandon), a waitress, calls her friend and tells her to get ready as they will go on a two-day vacation.

Of course, Thelma is a bit hesitant because of her controlling husband but she never gets to go out anywhere, so she packs up and joins Louise on a road trip in Louise’s teal 1966 Thunderbird convertible. Just in case, Thelma brings her husband’s pistol.

The two end up going to the Silver Bullet, a cowboy bar and dance hall and because Thelma never goes out and has fun, she starts drinking a lot of alcohol which Louise warns her.  A man named Harlan Puckett (played by Timothy Carhart) comes and gets Thelma more drunk.  While Louise goes to the restroom, Thelma needs some fresh air because she’s drunk and when she leaves the bar with Harlan, Harlan immediately starts becoming strong towards her and wanting a kiss.  She tells him that she’s married but he doesn’t care.  He slaps her and beats her and begins to rape her.

But Louise comes to her rescue by pointing a gun on his neck.  And Louise screams at him saying that when a woman is crying and says no, he should stop.  But Harlan starts to instigate the tense situation about what he had done and making light of it, upsetting Louise which prompts her shoot him in the chest and killing him.

Both women are shocked about what has transpired and leaves the area.  While the two end up at a restaurant and shocked about the ordeal, Louise knows that she is in big trouble and they need to come up with a plan on what to do.  Thelma just wants to call the police but Louise doesn’t want to be locked up in prison.

Meanwhile, Detective Hal Slocumb (played by Harvey Keitel) starts investigating the murder and from the waitress, learns that the two women were the last seen with Hal but the waitress tells her that the two women are not killers and how Harlan could have been killed by any woman or their husband.

While Thelma and Louise spend time at a hotel, Louise comes up with a plan to go to Mexico but wants to avoid going through Texas to get there.  Thelma can’t understand why not go through Texas since they are in Oklahoma and it would be the faster route to get there.  But all Louise will say is that something bad happened to her in Texas years ago and won’t say what happened.  For now, they need to come up with money and the only one that can help her is her boyfriend Jimmy Lennox (played by Michael Madsen, “Donnie Brasco”, “Reservoir Dogs”, “Kill Bill” films).  She calls Jimmy to send her life savings and send it to her via Western Union and he tells her to get the money at a certain location.

Meanwhile, as Louise and Thelma go to get the money, they run into a young hitchhiker named J.D. (played by Brad Pitt, “Fight Club”, “Se7en”, “Babel”, “Inglorious Basterds”) who needs a ride to his college.  At first Louise is against it but for Thelma’s sake, she allows him to ride with them.

As Louise goes to the location to retrieve her money, she is shocked that Jimmy is there.   So, as Louise meets with her boyfriend Jimmy, Thelma and J.D. are left alone together.   But Louise leaves the money in their hotel room, wanting Thelma to protect it, as the money is her way of getting to Mexico and living there.

As Louise spends time with Jimmy, she tells him that their relationship can’t continue.  Jimmy tells Louise that he loves her and wants to marry her but Louise tells him that its bad timing and she can’t.  When he asks why, she is unable to tell him what has happened.

Meanwhile, as Thelma is alone with J.D., she learns that he is not a student but a former robber who has broken his parole and is on the run.  He explains to her how he robs places and next thing you know, the two become intimate with each other.

As Thelma meets Louise the following morning for breakfast, Thelma is all happy about the night she had alone with J.D. but Louise is concerned about her money in the hotel, since Thelma left J.D. their alone.  Thelma tells Louise there is nothing to worry about but when they get to the hotel, the money and J.D. is gone.

Now with no money at all, Louise is distraught.  But knowing the pain she put Louise through, Thelma wants to make sure she takes care of her friend and uses the technique that J.D. taught her when it comes to robbing places and robs a store of their money to give back to Thelma.  So, now Thelma (who has been captured on video cameras) is now wanted by police but she ensures her best friend that from that moment, she will be joining her in Mexico and her life at home is over.

So, Thelma & Louise continue their road trip to escape to Mexico…meanwhile, because the women are now wanted for murder and robbery, the FBI is called in which leads to a nationwide hunt for Thelma & Louise.

VIDEO:

“Thelma & Louise: 20th Anniversary” is presented in 1080p High Definition (Widescreen 2:35:1) and to watch this film in HD was quite impressive.   The colors of the southwest to the Grand Canyon showcase its detail through this HD release.  Skies are blue, the Thunderbird’s blue pops out, Thelma’s died reddish brown hair pops and for the most part, the earth tones are what stick out in this film.  There is a good amount of grain and blacks are nice and deep and I detected no artifacting, DNR or edge enhancement at all.

Definitely a major upgrade visually compared to the 1997 and 2003 DVD release and fans of the film will definitely be pleased by the vibrant colors and detail seen in the 20th Anniversary release!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Thelma & Louise: 20th Anniversary” is presented in English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital and French 5.1 DTS.    While the film is primarily dialogue-driven and also featuring the musical score of Hans Zimmer and music which was appropriate for its time back in 1991, where you will hear the surround channels really picking up is during the final arc of the film when Thelma & Louise are on the run as they tend to use the guns even more and also featuring a pretty significant explosion which comes quite crystal clear through your surround channels.

During the bar room sequences, you do get some ambiance but for the most part, it’s when the action sequences are employed, where you will hear the more immersive sounds of the film.  But it’s important to note that while there is action, this is not an action film and the clear soundtrack is quite appropriate for “Thelma & Louise”.

Subtitles are presented in English and English SDH.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Thelma & Louise: 20th Anniversary” comes with the following special features (all presented in SD):

  • Commentary by Ridley Scott – An informative and pretty cool commentary by director Ridley Scott.  Scott provides the more technical details on how challenging the film was to make.
  • Commentary by Susan Sarandon, Geena Davis and Callie Khouri – A fun and casual audio commentary from writer Callie Khouri who explains what she wanted to accomplish through he screenplay and also talking with actresses Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis, who talk about their characters and the scenes that they shot.
  • Deleted and Extended Scenes – (40:19) Plenty of deleted and extended scenes are included.  Especially the longer sex scenes with Geena Davis and Brad Pitt.
  • Extended Ending (with Commentary by Ridley Scott) – (3:42) Featuring optional commentary,the ending that I’m glad wasn’t used for the final cut of the film.
  • Documentaries and Featurettes, including “Thelma and Louise: The Last Journey”– (59:43) An excellent documentary in which Callie Khouri talks about the anguish she felt about giving another director a chance to work on her script but how she and Ridley Scott worked great together.  Also, how the talent were cast for the film and how many of them were newcomers at the time, especially Brad Pitt.  Interesting is Pitt’s comments on his first major sex scene and how Geena Davis helped him through it.  Also, talking about the action sequences and how the film became a major hit and also cause for debate in the media.
  • Original Theatrical Featurette (with and without promotional narration) – (5:23) An older featurette in which the director and cast are showcased.
  • Multi-Angle Storyboards: The Final Chase – There are two segments featured in this section.  One is the storyboards (4:38) and the other is a storyboard with a shot comparison (4:38).
  • “Part of You, Part of Me” Music Video by Glenn Frey – (4:28) Glenn Frey’s music video for “Part You, Part of Me” for the film.
  • Trailer and TV Spots – Featuring the original theatrical trailer, a total of three TV spots and a home video preview.

“Thelma & Louise” continues to be an iconic film, 20 years later.

Although there have been a few films to have strong female leads, nothing has come close to matching or featuring the quality of the characters featured in “Thelma & Louise”.  This story about two women who set out to have some fun via  two-day vacation and then everything goes wrong.  It’s quite plausible and although the film has a good amount of humor, the film is ultimately a tragedy.

Two women who had normal lives but their lives are forever changed.  But during their moments together, it’s the most freedom that they have ever lived and together, they intend to make their time together meaningful and to go out with a bang!

In some ways, one can watch a road film such as “Easy Rider”, another tragic road film and capturing friendship to the last minute, the same can be said with “Thelma & Louise” but with strong female character leads, it was something that audiences have never seen before.  And I can see how the film would become an inspiration for women, not just for strong lead character roles in Hollywood but the fact that you have a film showcasing women choosing freedom, independence and to leave their banal lifestyle behind.  Granted, in this case, it was accidental and as some media have made a case over, these two women should be not considered as role-models.

But the connection this film makes is not about the crimes that were committed, it goes deeper than that.  As Tori Amos has credited the film for the inspiration of her song “Me and a Gun” (which is about Amos’ rape), the film especially Thelma being victimized as a slave wife under the control of a domineering husband and then being assaulted by a man who hits her around as if she is deserving of it.  No woman deserves this treatment and Louise, who has suffered rape before, shows Louise the benefits of freedom, away from the controlling Darryl and that she should stand up for herself.  We witness this change of Thelma throughout the film and the friendship and bond between friends growing.

This is the emotional connect that I have felt “Thelma & Louise” has managed to resonate with many viewers, many women, because these two women are not going to take it anymore.  And while some feared at the time that women would do some acts of vengeance on the men or husbands that have wronged them, the truth is that “Thelma & Louise” provided a voice for many women who have kept quiet about rape or their poor treatment by a love one.  The movie was probably not meant or was expected to resonate so strongly but it did.

As for the film, the imagery of Thelma & Louise grabbing a gun and shooting them towards a tanker, is one of the wonderful images of the film, and of course the final scene has become quite iconic and still remembered two decades later.

“Thelma & Louise” is a wonderful and magnificent film and definitely a highlight of movie screenplays courtesy of Callie Khouri and I felt that having Ridley Scott as the director, gave the film its necessary push to make it seem raw, real and visual for the audience.

And of course, the wonderful acting by Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis.  Both were extraordinary in this film and I’ve read that Michelle Pfeiffer and Melanie Griffith were originally considered for Thelma and Goldie Hawn, Diane Keaton, Anjelica Huston were considered for Louise.  Personally, it’s something I can’t even fathom.  This was a well-cast film and Sarandon and Davis had wonderful screen chemistry and the two did a fantastic job!  And of course, for the Brad Pitt fans, this is the movie that literally launched his career.

As for the 20th anniversary Blu-ray release, first let me say that Twentieth Century Fox has done a great job with these re-releases to celebrate the anniversaries of “Dancing with Wolves” and “Raging Bull” and here we are with “Thelma & Louise” and while I do feel the release is fantastic when it comes to PQ and AQ, while it does have the awesome “The Last Journey” featurette, its still the same standard definition features that came on DVD before.  I just felt that for a 20th anniversary, it would have been great to revisit with Calli Khouri, Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis.  I suppose that the footage shot for its 10th anniversary would be enough for people but it would have been great to have something new to compliment the 20th anniversary Blu-ray release.

Overall, “Thelma & Louise: 20th Anniversary” is a welcomed upgrade from its previous 2003 DVD release.  The film looks and sounds magnificent in HD and the audio commentary and featurettes included are still informative and enjoyable today.    If you are a big fan of this film or if you are looking for a film on Blu-ray that is well-made, well-written and well-acted, you can’t go wrong with “Thelma & Louise”.

Highly recommended!

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