Wednesday 18 April 2018

Book ~ "Off the Cliff: How the Making of Thelma & Louise Drove Hollywood to the Edge" (2017) Becky Aikman

From Goodreads ~ "You've always been crazy," says Louise to Thelma, having just outrun the police in a car chase and locked an officer in the trunk of his own car. "This is just the first chance you've had to express yourself."

In 1991, Thelma and Louise, the story of two outlaw women on the run from their disenchanted lives, was a revelation. Suddenly, for the first time, here was a film in which women were, in every sense, behind the wheel. It turned the tables on Hollywood, instantly becoming a classic and continues today to electrify audiences as a cultural statement of defiance. But if the film's place in history now seems certain, at the time its creation was a long shot.

Before Geena Davis, Susan Sarandon and a young up-and-coming actor named Brad Pitt got involved, "Thelma and Louise" was just an idea in the head of Callie Khouri, a thirty-year-old music video production manager, who was fed up with working behind the scenes on sleazy sets. At four a.m. one night, sitting in her car outside the ramshackle bungalow in Santa Monica that she shared with two friends, she had a vision: two women on a crime spree, fleeing their dull and tedious lives - lives like hers - in search of a freedom they had never before been able to realize. She knew in that moment that she had to be the one to write it.

But in the late 1980s, Hollywood was dominated by men, both on the screen and behind the scenes. The likelihood of a script by an unheard-of screenwriter starring two women in lead roles actually getting made was remote. But Callie had one thing going for her - she had no idea she was attempting the almost impossible. And she pulled it off, by dint of sheer hard work and some good luck when she was able to get the script into the hands of the brilliant English filmmaker Ridley Scott, who saw its huge potential. With Scott on board, a team willing to challenge the odds came together - including not only the stars Davis and Sarandon, but also legends like actor Harvey Keitel, composer Hans Zimmer, and old-school studio chief Alan Ladd Jr. - to create one of the most controversial movies of all time.

In "Off the Cliff", Becky Aikman tells the full extraordinary story behind this feminist sensation, which crashed through barricades and upended convention. Drawing on 130 exclusive interviews with the key players from this remarkable cast of actors, writers, and filmmakers, Aikman tells an inspiring and important underdog story about creativity, the magic of cinema, and the unjust obstacles that women in Hollywood continue to face to this day. 

Louise and Thelma
Thelma & Louise is a movie made in 1991 starring Geena Davis and Susan Sarandon as two friends who go on a road trip with unexpected results.  The supporting cast included Christopher McDonald, Harvey Keitel, Michael Madsen and Brad Pitt.

Thelma and Louise are best friends who set out for a weekend vacation at a fishing cabin in the mountains.  Thelma is a ditzy housewife married to a disrespectful and controlling man named Darryl.  Louise is a waitress in a diner and dating a musician named Jimmy, who spends most of his time on the road.  The vacation doesn't go as planned they end up on the run for murder.  Rather than be captured and spend the rest of their lives in jail, Thelma suggests that they "keep going" and they ride the car over the cliff to their deaths.

This book is all about the movie.  It discusses how the writer shopped the script around and Ridley Scott finally decided to direct it, the small budget, casting of the parts (Michelle Pfeiffer and Jodie Foster were originally chosen for the leads but eventually dropped out due to other commitments), the actually filming of the movie, the reaction after the movie was made, how it's become a classic and what the actors had done before and since the movie.  I found it interesting to get the behind-the-scene view of what was going on at the time and during the filming.

It's been a lot of years since I've seen Thelma & Louise and after reading this book, I'm going to watch it soon now that I have the inside scoop.

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