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THELMA AND LOUISE, Intuitive Screenwriting Wheel Film Study

#ThelmaandLouise #filmstructure #analisys

Transformation of heroines in 12 archetypal steps

THELMA AND LOUISE (1991), dir. Ridley Scott

1. Warrior →Fool (The exposition of a wound — ego) BATTLEFIELD

Thelma and Louise are on a metaphorical battlefield against men. They are both treated badly by their husbands. Should they remain subordinate, or not?

2. Creator →Orphan (A ray of hope) HEART’S DESIRE

Both Thelma (Geena Davis) and Louise (Susan Sarandon) dream about an adventure and freedom, but they are afraid of what will happen if they leave. Eventually, their hearts win.

3. Explorer →Magician (The hero decides to go on a quest) A BETTER LIFE IS POSSIBLE

They just don’t deserve to be treated like shit, so Louise kills a dirty-mouthed rapist.

Thelma: “Should we tell the police what happened?”

Louise: “A hundred people saw you dancing with him all night cheek to cheek. Who is going to believe us? We don’t live in that kind of world, Thelma.”

The adventure towards a better life begins; there is no turning back. (Later on, we’ll realize that Louise plays the role of a mentor here… she had been in the same kind of situation in the past).

4. Lover →Caregiver (Wish storyline) LOVE INTRODUCED

Detective Hall (amazing Hervey Keitel) enters the story. He is going to be the only compassionate man who understands our protagonists. Both Thelma and Louise are afraid, they feel unsafe and call back home.

Thelma’s ‘wish’ and possible romance comes in as well: J.D. (Brad Pitt), but Louise is not willing to give him a ride.

5. Sage →Destroyer (Healing is possible) REASONS BEHIND SUFFERING

Louise tries to persuade her boyfriend Jimmy to wire her the money for the escape, she asks him if he loves her, but the answer is not satisfying. She drinks.

Thelma calls Darryl (her husband) but he acts like a jerk as always, so she finally says to him that he is not her father and to fuck off.

The main thing: Louise wants to travel from Oklahoma to Mexico but not through Texas! Something happened there. WHAT?

6. Ruler →Innocent (On the top of the false mountain) WISH FULFILLED

Instead of just sending the money, Jimmy shows up and brings the money to Louise in person. He finally proposes to her, her wish is fulfilled, she loves him, but she doesn’t need it anymore and not like that. He gives her the ring anyway and leaves. She is sad.

J.D. sweet-talks Thelma, so her wish is fulfilled as well. She sleeps with him, and this is the first sex she has ever really enjoyed.

Also, Louise makes the worst possible mistake by trusting Thelma, and Thelma makes the worst possible mistake by trusting J.D. He ends up stealing their money. They are devastated. Plan A goes out the window. (Switch in characters: Louise who was a leader, is broken, Thelma takes the lead).


Meanwhile, men do what they do the best: they are preparing a mousetrap and crack jokes about women. The police visit Darryl and tell him that “if Thelma calls, to be gentle because women like that shit.”

When Thelma robs the store, her right (free) and wrong (subordinate) identities converge. It is definitely the most fun scene in the movie.

Thelma and Louise start enjoying themselves; they actually have the time of their lives.


J.D. is questioned by detective Hall. Later on, he makes Darryl want to kill him by saying: “I like your wife” (cheating).

Thelma calls Darryl; he acts nice, which is only possible if the police tapped his phone. Louise talks to detective Hall, he knows they are going to Mexico.

Louise and Thelma have a fight over Thelma talking to people. They meet the nasty truck driver yet again. A state policeman stops them for speeding, they lock him in the trunk of his car: “Be sweet to your wife, my husband was not sweet to me, and look how I turned out. (Fairness).

9. Magician →Explorer (Magic comes from the above) THE TRUTH IS KNOWN

Thelma doesn’t want to talk about what happened to her, but she was raped in Texas.

Louise talks to detective Hall again, he knows what happened in Texas, he is giving them a chance if they give themselves up; otherwise, they will be wanted