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Introduction Bonnie Parker Thelma Dickinson & Louise Sawyer
Alabama Worley Conclusion Femme Finale

true romance!       "Neither the imaginary nor the symbolic can fully comprehend the real, which remains out there somewhere beyond their reach."(Seldon, 82) In True Romance, Alabama seems to progress into the ‘real’ immediately. This movie co-written by Quentin Tarantino and Scott Avery and directed by Tony Scott (Ridley’s brother), is the classic American road film with a few subversive twists and turns, namely a very strong female lead. Alabama does not play mirror to Clyde, nor does she come to symbolize phallic power as in the case of Thelma and Louise. Better yet, she comes closest in representing the ‘real’ according to Lacan’s theory. Unlike her film sisters before her, Alabama acts as narrator; automatically establishing the fact that she survives the journey. Given this controlling voice, it is implied that Alabama in addition to knowing her life’s events, knows her ‘self’ as well. Not only does she act as narrator, but she comes to be in the foreground sharing and usurping that position with and from her co-character, Clarence in a number of scenes. This is skillfully supported in the static representation of the film as well, or the film’s posters. In the poster image, Alabama is placed directly in the foreground, in front of both Clarence and members of the supporting cast.

      The first image of Alabama allowed the audience is one of cleavage and blonde locks (already the feminists are coughing). This image is just that, an image; part of a complete persona portrayed to the audience immediately with a quick pull-back shot. No particular body part is focused upon, Scott is careful to give a complete full-shot of her walking down the movie theater aisle. As in Thelma & Louise, Alabama is presented in a pre-existing setting, supporting the idea that she is to some extent an already formed identity. At no point in the film does she trade in this feminine identity already portrayed or try to consciously alter it in any way. Although she later executes some extremely violent actions, she never adopts a masculine persona to help her.

      As in the other films, Alabama makes the obligatory trip to a diner. Here, major differences can be seen. Alabama’s entire metamorphosis takes place over coffee and pie. During the course of their conversation, Alabama reflexively copies most of Clarence’s movements and intimates that she shares many of the same interests that he enjoys. When asked about herself, she provides little information aside from the aesthetic required of any table-side chatter. Later, the audience learns that she was mirroring Clarence to make him feel more comfortable and insinuate herself upon him as she was required to do for her job. This progression from the ‘imaginary’ to the ‘symbolic’ (even though it was executed under a ruse) happens so quickly, that one could blink and miss it. Thankfully, Scott’s direction and the camera work make this impossible by lingering on this scene and giving it an additional reflective touch, framing and mirroring the original image in the window of the diner as well.

      Unlike Bonnie, Thelma, and Louise, Alabama actually has the opportunity to define herself and state her intentions and have her desires shown when she is ‘coming clean’ with Clarence about how they met: "I didn’t just happen to be there, I was paid...I’m a call girl... I’ve been one for 4 days and you’re my third customer...I’m a really good person...and I’m one hundred percent monogamous when I’m in a relationship..." During this exchange the audience is given a full explanation and history of who Alabama is and why she came to be introduced into the action of the film Bonnie, Thelma and Louise were never afforded this voice. After Alabama tells Clarence that she loves him, Scott cuts quickly to another scene of Alabama and Clarence coming down the courthouse steps Mr. & Mrs. Worley. Again, unlike Bonnie, theirs is a union or joint effort, Alabama and Clarence remain on equal ground. Later, they are shown getting tattoos with each other’s names on themselves. This is in direct contrast with Bonnie again, in that she admired C.W.’s tattoo but would not get one herself.

      As the film progresses, and they are forced into taking to the road in a flight loosely similar to the others’, Alabama has a chance to explore other facets of herself besides those already portrayed. In what is certainly one of the most grueling and violent scenes of the film (and in female film history), it is Alabama who becomes victor. When a nasty mob henchman catches up to them in LA, it is Alabama who enters the fray. Clarence off getting lunch, does not provide protection for Alabama and she faces this monolithic lug on her own. Like his brother, Scott does not shy away from the violence of the ensuing scene. The camera does not flinch and the shots are not gratuitous. Pretending not to know who he is, she initially tries to avoid a confrontation. After sustaining a couple of brutal blows, Alabama lies bloody and limp on the floor. While the guy’s back is turned, she makes the monumental effort of rolling over and getting into a crouching position. Then exhibiting some heartening bravery, Alabama brandishes a cork-screw key chain (her only weapon thus far) and soundly skewers the henchman in the foot. Apparently physically un-phased (in spite of the blood oozing from the wound), the mobster’s ire is invoked and he picks her up, telling her that he would "teach her a lesson" and viciously throws her into the shower door. Battered and bleeding, Alabama hangs on with dogged determination, enlisting an amazing fearlessness found in those who think they might die but refuse to go without a fight. This perspective usually reserved for male heroes, rings twice as loudly in Alabama and seems all the more astounding when she laughs at the guy through a mouthful of blood: "You look ridiculous. Ha-Ha-Ha. You look ridiculous" she laughingly screams at him. Maddened beyond belief, he hauls her out of the shower intending to show Alabama her own reflection and shoves her into the vanity. Walking into the other room to get his gun and finish her off, the henchman returns to the bathroom to find Alabama ready to teach him in the art of household arsenals. Burning him with an improvised blow torch (hair spray and a lighter) she proceeds to beat him with both a toilet bowl tank cover and an Elvis bust (sacrilege!). Giving no ground, Alabama picks up the shot-gun and unloads the bullets meant for her and Clarence into the shocked gunman.

      Alabama plays heroine once again, this time without actively being violent. When the drug sale goes awry, Alabama grabs the briefcase full of money (their future like Louise’s) and , dodging bullets, races towards the door. Clarence, talking in the bathroom with the ghost of Elvis, chooses an inopportune moment to alight, and gets nailed with several bullets. Alabama, refusing that he’s dead, crawls over to him trying to rouse, if not help him. Determined that it will not end this way, and fearless of dying herself, Alabama manages to drag both Clarence and the money to safety. They story ends as it begins, with Alabama narrating the concluding events, as she looks out fondly to her husband and son walking along a beach’s shore. hear me roar!


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