Monday, September 18, 2006

Musing Pictures: Thelma & Louise

I saw Ridley Scott's 1991 film a few nights ago for the first time. It's a good film, and an important one, even if it leaves a guy like me frustrated with its portrayal of capital-emm Men. (there's one male character who might actually be a nice guy, perhaps, but he's just as sexist as the rest of 'em, in his own, quiet way...)

But I want to talk about something else, briefly. As I prepared to write this post, I typed the title of the film in to the "title" field as "Thelma and Louise", noticing only later that I should have used an ampersand instead.

The effect, though, is fascinating. It brings the two names more closely together, linking them in a way that is somehow different than the word "and". It provides a hint of what may be inseparability (which, in fact, fits the film nicely), whereas the word "and", as written, seems to connect two distinct, separate, individuated elements.

The ampersand can be found in various film and television titles, and I think that its effect is quite consistent: Law & Order, Mr. & Mrs. Smith, Dumb & Dumber, Will & Grace, Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory, Lilo & Stitch, Starsky & Hutch, Wallace & Gromit, etc. etc. etc.

Note the way the "And" feels in other titles: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, Josie and the Pussycats, Kind Hearts and Coronets, Arsenic and Old Lace, Lady and The Tramp, Romeo and Juliet...

and of course, every so often, we find someone trying to be creative... Here, a symbol that seems to imply something other than what the "and" or the ampersand can imply: Romeo+Juliet, or the more recent Tristan+Isolde. It's a tighter connection, but an emptier one, too... perhaps more frantic, more hurried, two quick lines on a page, before time runs out...


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