Thelma Movie Explained (Plot And Ending)

Thelma is a 2017 Norwegian supernatural psychological thriller directed by Joachim Trier and written by Eskil Vogt. The film follows the story of Thelma, a young woman who moves from her rural home to attend university in Oslo, where she begins to experience strange and dangerous supernatural powers. The film explores themes of identity, sexuality, and the power of the unconscious mind and is a great watch. Check it out and here’s the plot and ending of the movie Thelma explained; spoilers ahead.

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Here are links to the key aspects of the movie:

Here’s the Thelma plot explained in chronological order. Let’s begin at the top.

Thelma Movie: Plot Explained

Thelma Movie: What happened to the grandma? What’s her story?

Thelma’s grandmother appears to have had superpowers where she could manifest anything she visualizes. Long ago, she imagines her husband away (for unknown reasons), and he disappears from their boat, and his body is never found. It appears to be an accident on the grandmother’s part and later, the she even gives herself cancer and awaits her death as she has been kept heavily drugged in a hospital by Thelma’s father.

What happened to the baby when Thelma was young?

Thelma’s innermost feeling for her baby brother is one of jealousy as her parents’ attention moves entirely to the baby. One time, she makes the baby disappear from the crib and reappear under the sofa. The next time, the baby isn’t as fortunate as Thelma causes the baby to disappear from the bathtub and reappear under a frozen lake.

What is Thelma’s relationship with her parents?

Thelma movie parents

Thelma’s parents, especially the father, are deeply religious and are shown to have exerted a strong influence over Thelma’s upbringing and beliefs. It appears that years pass after the baby’s death without Thelma having other such episodes. They keep a close watch over her until she goes to the university.

Why is Thelma’s mother in a wheelchair?

Right after the death of the baby, we see a shot of the mother standing on a bridge and then climbing it to commit suicide. We can conclude that though Thelma’s mom’s suicide attempt was a failed one, she lost her legs in the process.

What are the epileptic seizures Thelma has?

A doctor concludes that Thelma is having Psychogenic Non-Epileptic Seizures as he doesn’t see any spikes in her brain scans during her episodes. The seizures are the onset of Thelma’s superpowers surfacing after many years.

Thelma Movie: Who is Anja?

Thelma Movie Anja

Anja is a girl in Thelma’s university who is a genuinely nice person and is concerned for Thelma after watching her have an epileptic attack. Anja and Thelma’s relationship is portrayed as a romantic one. While Thelma’s father believes that Anja’s feelings are because of Thelma’s mind control, Anja appears to have honest feelings for Thelma. We’ll talk more about this at the end of the article.

Does Thelma have the power of mind control?

Yes, she does. We know this from the scene where Anja shows up at Thelma’s house without realizing why she got there or how she even knows where Thelma lives. This happens because Thelma wants to be with Anja. Anja remembers Thelma’s telephatic request as a text message the following day.

Why does Thelma resent kissing Anja?

At a concert, Anja makes a move on Thelma, and we see Thelma almost have another seizure. Her mind is unable to process what she’s experiencing. Thelma leaves the auditorium before the roof comes falling down. Anja follows her out and kisses Thelma.

Thelma experiences feelings of guilt and shame after she kisses Anja. This is due to the strict religious upbringing she received from her parents, which instilled in her a belief that homosexuality is a sin. The kiss between Thelma and Anja represents a breaking point for Thelma, as she is forced to confront her true desires and the conflict between her religious beliefs and her sexuality.

Why does Thelma behave strangely at the party?

When Thelma drinks and smokes what she is told is weed at the party, she willingly releases the restraint on her mind. She imagines making out with Anja as that is what she truly wants. In reality, she ends up touching herself in front of everyone and embarrasses herself, and Anja stops her before things get out of hand.

After this, Thelma feels more guilt for wanting a woman and tries to distance herself from Anja and wishes this feeling she has for her to disappear.

Thelma Movie: What does the snake represent?

Thelma significance of the snake

The snake represents Thelma’s hidden desires, which she has repressed due to her strict upbringing and religious beliefs. The snake is a powerful symbol of the subconscious mind, often associated with sexuality and desire. As Thelma’s powers become more intense and she begins to experience passionate feelings for Anja, the snake becomes a symbol of her repressed sexuality and desires.

Thelma Movie: What happens to Anja?

While Thelma only wants her desire for Anja to go away, her subconscious mind kills Anja by making her disappear into the glass window. Thelma later confirms this when she finds a small lock of Anja’s hair embedded in the glass window.

Thelma Finding out about her grandmother

Thelma finds out that her parents have lied about her grandmother dying many years ago. In reality, the grandmother has been kept in a heavily sedated state at a hospital so she doesn’t harm anyone using her superpowers. Thelma learns that her grandmother once made her grandfather disappear and also gave herself cancer.

Why does Thelma go back home?

Thelma is concerned that something is wrong with her and returns home to seek medical attention and the comfort of her family. When Thelma realizes she has killed Anja, she wants to leave the university so she doesn’t hurt anyone else. Her return home is an attempt to find a sense of safety and stability as she tries to understand what is happening to her and how she can regain control over her life.

At home, Thelma’s father begins medicating her to keep her powers at bay. Thelma fears that she will become like her grandmother and asks her father to allow her to leave.

What does the mother suggest to Thelma’s father?

In private, the mother states that they are being tested, and Thelma has gone far beyond their control, and the only thing left is to kill her before she harms more people. The mother’s suggestion is because of her belief that Thelma’s powers result from sin and evil.

Why does Thelma kill her father?

Deep inside her subconscious, Thelma feels that her father is far too controlling as a person. From what appears to be a telepathic read of her mother, Thelma learns that her father plans to kill her with a lethal injection. She uses her powers to kill her father by causing him to spontaneously combust. Right after he’s gone, Thelma is able to utilize her powers for good too. So while her father was not a terrible person, it appears his existence was causing Thelma’s abilities to be suppressed and act out negatively.

Why does Thelma spare her mother?

It appears that Thelma’s father was the source of her feeling trapped and causing her powers to fire off in unintended ways. While she could have killed her mother for plotting her death, Thelma gains enough control over her mind and abilities. Thelma is not a being of evil looking for revenge. Now that she knows how to utilize her superpower, she spares her mother and gives her the ability to walk again.

Thelma Movie: How does Thelma spit out a dead bird?

In this scene, we see that Thelma not only creates a bird but also breathes life into it as we watch the bird fly away. Thelma realizes that her powers are not all evil. We see Thelma’s phone getting a call from Anja, which means Thelma has recreated Anja too.

Thelma Movie: Ending Explained: How is Anja alive again?

Thelma ending explained

The ending of the movie Thelma shows us that she is able to gain sufficient control over her superpowers to a point where she can create life. Thelma brings Anja back from the dead. That said, if Anja remembered the whole glass incident, she would have had a traumatic breakdown on returning. I don’t think she would look anywhere near as happy as she did in that last scene. 

One explanation is that Anja has no recollection of the window incident, writes it off as a bad dream, is unaware of the time that has passed since her death, and gets back to living her life, ignoring the few days she went missing.

The alternate darker explanation is that Anja is entirely under Thelma’s mind control and is now her puppet. As the dad tries to explain earlier, Anja is not the one with feelings for Thelma, but Thelma’s will overpowers Anja’s mind. We see Thelma imagining Anja kissing her neck, and in a short moment, Anja shows up and does precisely that. So in that last scene, only Thelma is happy, and Anja is under mind control. This also raises the big question – is Anja gay, or is this also Thelma’s doing? Earlier in the film, we are told that Anja has a boyfriend with whom she has broken up. Perhaps, Thelma’s subconscious desires caused this. This could also explain why Thelma chose to leave her father dead despite having the power to bring back life – Thelma is restructuring reality as she desires it.

In conclusion, Anja’s death serves as a catalyst for Thelma’s powers to emerge, and her reappearance at the end of the film is a significant moment that is open to interpretation.

What were your thoughts on the plot and ending of the 2017 film Thelma? Please do comment below so we can discuss further.