After an intense police chase across the desert, Thelma and Louise decide to throw their 66 Thunderbird off a cliff rather than get caught by the police. However, the audience doesn’t see the actual crash. The car literally freezes in mid-air, the screen goes white, and the movie ends. The vast expanse of the Grand Canyon represents the pinnacle of Thelma and Louise’s journey.
They have reached the highest points of their lives and have transcended their former roles as housewives and waitresses. They have nowhere else to go but up. It illustrates the film’s theme of freedom, as women could take control of their destinies. Thus, the last frame sets the women free because nothing can stop their decision to keep going.
The traditional Hollywood happy ending invariably presents marriage as a woman’s ultimate goal. Disney films, including Snow White and Beauty and the Beast, characterize their female characters as girls in need of marriage, which will be their salvation. In return, Thelma and Louise shatter Hollywood’s expectations of a happy ending. It diverges from the patriarchal definition, trading heteronormative unions for liberation and spiritual communion. Scott’s protagonists pursue their destiny and end up saving themselves.
Thelma and Louise are subversive not only in their refusal to conform to patriarchal conventions but also in their lack of closure. While conventional Hollywood endings encourage us to imagine life beyond the picture, as seen with Snow White and her prince, Thelma and Louise promote not imagining what happens beyond the freeze-frame. The viewer is left with a positive and inspiring image of the heroines flying through the sky in the final frame.
Seeing the world through the eyes of liberated women driving merrily into the unknown was an innovation that boldly granted a woman the right to be human. Cooper notes that this is a movie about women who defy eternity and openly neglect social conditions. It has a philosophical background in the immortality of the soul and the lofty value of freedom, which despises even death. The film’s finale proves that suicide is preferable to prison, just as lethal injection is better than life imprisonment.