Thelema and Louise

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Original film poster featuring the Goat of Mendes.

“Rabelaisian satire of the very highest order...”

~ The Goat of Mendes on Thelema and Louise

Thelema and Louise is a 1991 American road movie directed by Oscar-winning director Ridley Scott. The film's plot revolves the two central characters, a Arkansas waitress and a British ceremonial magician who shoot a rapist and take off in a '66 Thunderbird, and their troubled, caged lives and attempts to steal the Stele of Ankh-ef-en-Khonsu in their task to focus on the discovery and manifestation of Will, free from the constraints, accidents, and deceptions of material existence. Actress Geena Davis was nominated for an Oscar for her portrayal of Aleister Crowley which she lost out to Jodie Foster for her portrayal of Eliphas Levi in Silence of the Liddell MacGregor Mathers.


Susan Sarandon (left) and Geena Davis (right) reunite for the tenth anniversary of Thelema and Louise.

As the film opens, we meet Louise (Susan Sarandon), a waitress in a diner-style restaurant. She phones her friend Aleister (Geena Davis) and makes reference to a vacation they are about to take together where they will retreat to the emptiness of the desert in Algiers, stepping outside both the magical episteme and the liberal-humanist conception of self to confront demons within the Aethyrs.

The film follows the pair as they head out in Louise's ethereal teal 1966 Thunderbird convertible for their journey that nosedives into a nightmarish situation before they even reach their destination, but which sees them change from victims of circumstance into outlaw heroes of the inner planes. Their actions continue to spiral out of control as the two of them make their way across the country, particularly with the ever-more-daring Aleister, who has shed his giggly, goofy personality for a determined, aggressive, homoerotic hard-drinking one.

The ending is frequently cited as one of the most memorable from movie history. The pair are chased along a canyon in the Thunderbird convertible by a group of shrieking Dianic Wiccans and in an effort to escape they floor the accelerator, ending in a shot of the car levitating through the air with the two companions achieving the status of Ipsissimus, free from the limitations of necessity and living in perfect balance with the manifest universe.


The film deals with many of issues of the time, such as society's view of women and ceremonial magicians and the oppression they faced, which may be overcome through a strict regime of physical, mental, and spiritual exercises.

Reception and controversy[edit]

“The Beast of all road movies...”

~ Noel Coward on Thelema and Louise

Surprisingly, considering the subject matter, the film was met with little negative critical responses upon its release. Although released fourteen years before Brokeback Mountain and featuring an explicit and prolonged "buggering sequence" lasting for over twenty-seven minutes, the movie went on to grab two Golden Globes.

Some rightwing nutjobs did object to the films tagline "Love is the law, love under will..." which they considered far too Bohemian for their liking. Several decried the film as a "Movie of Lies" whilst others picketed outside of a cinema in Ohio for two evenings following its release, but gave up when two of their number began having goatlike sex and the rest found something else to complain about.

See also[edit]