Thelma & Louise

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Details At A Glance

Category Drama Theatrical Trailer(s) Yes, 1
Rating Other Trailer(s) None
Year Released 1991 Commentary Tracks Yes, 1 - Ridley Scott (Director)
Running Time 123 minutes Other Extras Alternate Ending (with Commentary)
RSDL/Flipper RSDL (64:24)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region 4 Director Ridley Scott

Warner Brothers
Starring Susan Sarandon
Geena Davis
Harvey Keitel
RRP $34.95 Music Hans Zimmer

Pan & Scan/Full Frame No MPEG None
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Dolby Digital 5.1
16x9 Enhancement Yes Soundtrack Languages English (Dolby Digital 5.1)
English Audio Commentary (Dolby Digital 2.0)
Theatrical Aspect Ratio 2.35:1    
Macrovision ?    
Subtitles English
English for the Hard of Hearing

Plot Synopsis

    Thelma & Louise is a road movie with a difference - our heros are heroines, and quite dark ones at that. Susan Sarandon is Louise, and Geena Davis is Thelma. Louise is older, has a boyfriend who tends onto the violent side, and is very cynical. Thelma is married to her high school sweetheart who treats her like his own personal slave and is very naive. Thelma and Louise plan a weekend away together, but unfortunately, a would-be rapist, a petty thief (Brad Pitt), and numerous law enforcement officers (including Harvey Keitel) get in the way. Things progressively go from bad to worse for the pair, until the climactic finish.

    This movie was both controversial and acclaimed at the time it came out. Personally, I did not enjoy the story all that much, though I suspect more women than men would like this story. I found it quite depressing as the two of them sunk to lower and lower depths.

Transfer Quality


    The last few DVDs that I have reviewed have been essentially flawless. Sadly, the same cannot be said for the transfer of Thelma & Louise. To put it bluntly, this is an awful transfer.

    There is a major defect at 64:24, which is at the RSDL layer change (between Chapters 19 and 20). My player (Pioneer DV-505) locked up at this point and refused to proceed. The only way to continue the movie was to jump to the next chapter and reverse to 64:28, whereupon the movie would recommence. I have read reports of extreme picture breakup and pausing at this point with other players and discs, so this appears to be a pressing fault rather than a machine-specific fault. This fault is so severe that a product recall would be required for this defect alone, much less the other problems with the transfer.

    The transfer is presented at an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, 16x9 enhanced. The DVD cover indicates incorrectly that this disc is formatted at an aspect ratio of 1.85:1. I believe that this transfer was created by upconverting a non-anamorphic master based on the lack of sharpness and the extreme aliasing present in this transfer. I note that the R1 version of this movie is not anamorphically enhanced.

    The transfer was not particularly sharp, and was often lacking in picture detail. Black level was frequently set too high, with a resultant loss of picture detail.  A large number of scenes were lacking in shadow detail. Low level noise was often apparent. All-in-all, the greyscale of this transfer is not very good. The lack of resolution leads to all diagonal lines exhibiting major degrees of jaggedness, to an extent that I have not seen in a long time on DVD.

    The colours were generally well rendered and consistent throughout the movie, but were marred by other artefacts.

    Some blockiness was apparent at times.

    Aliasing was frequently present, and severe. All of the usual aliasing culprits caused major aliasing artefacts. In addition, many of the slow horizontal pans generated copious amounts of very distracting aliasing.The aliasing visible in this transfer is worse than that which was so severely complained about in the first release of Die Hard 3.

    Film weave was problematic at times, particularly in the opening pan.

    Film artefacts were excessively present.

    This disc is an RSDL disc, with the layer change placed at 64:24. The fact that the layer change is placed so early into this movie is testament to the degree of artefacting present on the master - this artefacting pushes the bit rate up dramatically. This layer change is particularly disruptive given that it locks up the player!


    There are two audio tracks on this DVD, the default English Dolby Digital 5.1, and an alternative English Audio Commentary Track, in Dolby Digital 2.0.

    Dialogue was muffled and frequently difficult to understand. It was frequently overpowered by background music. The mix was very artificially separated into centre for dialogue and left/right for music, which made it sound poorly integrated.

    There were no audio sync problems with this disc.

    The music by Hans Zimmer is highly reminiscent of the time the film is set in, with a combination of bluesy music and synthesized numbers. It accompanied the on-screen action nicely, even though it tended to overpower the dialogue at times.

     The surround channels were very unevenly used, with the surround presence varying from non-existent to overpowering. They were poorly integrated into the overall mix.

    The .1 channel was used for the special effects, and was not well integrated with the rest of the soundtrack.


    The extras on this disc are reasonably worthwhile.


    The menu design is very plain, but straightforward to navigate. There is an option under the Special Features called Film Soundtrack. This appears to do nothing except start the movie with the normal English 5.1 soundtrack and with subtitles on. The same selection appears on both of the other MGM discs released so far, and I wonder whether this selection is actually designed to reset the DVD player into normal film soundtrack mode after you have listened to the audio commentary. My original premise that this was a gateway to an Isolated Music Score appears to have been incorrect.

Audio Commentary

    Ridley Scott (Director) delivers a surprisingly disappointing commentary track, often digressing into irrelevant topics and with relatively frequent silences. It is presented as a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack with the movie mixed in at a low level behind the commentary track.

Alternate Ending

    An alternate ending is presented for this film. It is a little rough around the edges, but this is to be expected from something that ended up on the cutting room floor. It is a superb extra, and very interesting. It is presented at an aspect ratio of 2.35:1, non-anamorphic enhanced, and with a Dolby Digital 2.0 soundtrack. You have the option of either listening to the soundtrack or to Ridley Scott's commentary during this extra. I wholeheartedly agree with Ridley Scott's choice of ending for this film, but it is still fascinating to see what could have been. The menu selections for choosing between the movie soundtrack or the commentary for this extra did not appear to work correctly.

Theatrical Trailer

    This is presented at an aspect ratio of 1.85:1, non-16x9 enhanced. The sound mix is Dolby Digital 2.0, which sounded mono.


    An 8 page booklet discusses production issues quite extensively and is well worth the reading time.


    Thelma & Louise is a major disappointment, both in the video and the audio departments. In its present form, it is unacceptable. In fact, it is so bad that it earns a place in my Hall Of Shame.

    The video quality is awful with dreadfully bad aliasing marring an otherwise good picture, and a complete crash at the RSDL layer change (64:24).

    The audio quality is very ordinary, with frequently difficult to understand dialogue, and overly loud surrounds which are poorly integrated into the overall mix.

    The extras present are good, but the commentary track is somewhat of a let-down.

Ratings (out of 5)

© Michael Demtschyna
8th February 1999
Review Equipment
DVD Pioneer DV-505, using S-Video output
Display Loewe Art-95 95cm direct view CRT in 16:9 mode, via the S-Video input. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Audio Decoder Denon AVD-2000 Dolby Digital AddOn Decoder, used as a standalone processor. Calibrated with the NTSC DVD version of Video Essentials.
Amplification 2 x EA Playmaster 100W per channel stereo amplifiers for Left, Right, Left Rear and Right Rear; Philips 360 50W per channel stereo amplifier for Centre and Subwoofer
Speakers Philips S2000 speakers for Left, Right; Polk Audio CS-100 Centre Speaker; Apex AS-123 speakers for Left Rear and Right Rear; Yamaha B100-115SE subwoofer