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Mindjob Movie Thelma Explained and Unpacked

Mindjob Movie Thelma Explained and Unpacked - or how you may not realize that Thelma might just be the scariest thing ever. (IMDB)
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Some of the best mindjob movies out there require several viewings to really fully understand just how good of a mindjob movie that they are. I watched Thelma back when it was running through the film festival circuit. And while I enjoyed it, I just don’t think I grasped what was really happening. I didn’t fully rock tumble the entirety of this movie. Heck, maybe I just flipping slept through most of it. Because if I had half a brain cell pointed at this movie I would have brought it to you right away. But now? Now it looks like I’ve been holding out on you guys. Gah. And that makes our relationship awkward and stuff, shoot. Cause that’s not good.

But how about this. I’ll make it up to you by fully unpacking this thing top to bottom. I mean, can opener, the works. (No, I’m not exactly sure what can openers have got to do with this, but it sounded good before I typed it. So yeah, might as well double and triple down…can openers, jack hammers, and thermal detonators…) First though, if you haven’t seen it yet, watch it, and then come back and read my  mindjob movie Thelma explained and unpacked post!

But really? Don’t hit play on this trailer. Like even a little bit. Just go find it. ‘Cause if you are a fan of movies that will make you think – and meanwhile break your brain, this is one for you.

Because there just is so much going on – or possibly going on – in this movie, I’m going to do a chronological timeline for you guys on this one. 

Thelma Movie Chronologically 

  1. Thelma’s grandmother begins having seizures
  2. She makes her husband disappear while on the lake
  3. Her son, Trond becomes a doctor and marries Unni
  4. They have a daughter, and name her Thelma
  5. When Unni & Trond have another child Thelma is upset
  6. Thelma makes Matthias teleport to under the dresser
  7. Later, Thelma sends Matthias to under the frozen lake
  8. Much later, Thelma’s seizures stop after she becomes a Christian
  9. Trond and Unni believe Thelma is ok to go off to school
  10. Thelma meets Anja and has a seizure in the library
  11. Thelma dreams of Anja, and finds her outside her apartment
  12. Anja breaks up with her boyfriend Daniel
  13. They go to a ballet with Anja’s mother, and hold hands
  14. They kiss in the lobby
  15. Thelma goes to a party with Kristoffer
  16. Thelma takes “drugs” and has visions of making out with Anja
  17. Oh, and a snake wraps around her neck, and slides down her throat, yeah, that happened too
  18. Thelma goes to a seizure study where they induce a seizure
  19. During the seizure, Thelma makes Anja disappear
  20. Thelma finds out her grandmother is alive and had similar symptoms 
  21. Thelma learns her “delusional” grandmother gave herself cancer
  22. Back at school, Thelma has a seizure in the pool
  23. Thelma visits Anja’s apartment and finds hair embedded in glass
  24. Thelma asks parents to let her come home, and confesses
  25. Thelma learns what she did to her baby brother
  26. Her father tells Thelma she can make anyone do anything…
  27. Including making Anja love her
  28. Thelma kills her father by lighting him on fire while out on the lake
  29. Thelma sees Anja has returned back to the school 
  30. Thelma heals her handicapped mother
  31. Thelma, sitting on park bench, sees Anja kissing her neck…
  32. Anja kisses Thelma’s neck, and they begin walking together

The Problem With Timelines

The problem with timelines is that they only support one truth at a time. I personally see three or four other possibilities to define how this movie could be viewed. And this timeline doesn’t take into account these other various possibilities. And even within one possible truth, the nuances of what might have happened are lost. For example, the timeline above just assumed that what the movie was telling us was true. But who’s to say that the movie was even being truthful with us? Why don’t we play with the timeline above, and maybe you’ll see what I mean. 

Theory #1 – The Most Obvious Explanation

Above, in the timeline, I have walked you through my best guess for what the movie was telling us to think happened in the movie. And the central idea being that SEIZURES are caused by some sort of possession. And that this possessing (demon or other wise) ran through the family. Thelma’s grandmother had non-epileptic seizures, just like Thelma does. And these seizures came about through intense emotions or passions. And as a result, the seized caused their deepest, darkest desires to physically happen. 

For some reason, Grandma wanted her husband to disappear, and he did. For some reason, Thelma wanted her baby brother to disappear, and he did…all the way out to under the lake’s sheet of ice. And in so doing, killing her brother.

Better yet? Thelma’s relationship with Anja is a fraud. Anja was dating a guy. And it was Thelma’s desire that forced Anja to leave him. It was Thelma’s psychokinetic abilities that forced Anja to leave her apartment and arrive at Thelma’s. It was Thelma that made Anja get involved with her. And, per her father’s theory, Thelma was lonely…and that desired spread out to Anja, and forced her to comply.

Theory #2 – Demon Possession Gone Awry

Wait, isn’t the fact that one is demon possessed the definition of a situation that has gone awry? I mean. Right? Anyway, but what if the family’s spiritual roots connect further back to the era of the Salem Witch Trials, etc.? And what if this connection, and the family’s spiritual background has opened them up to an attack of spiritual dimensions? This line of thinking I guess is just a further explanation of the previous theory, #1. No? But this theory speaks to the root cause of the powers that Thelma and her grandmother both have. 

Theory #3 – Nothing Happened At All

But what if Trond and Unni, Thelma’s parents, were just insane? What if they were the ones that began giving Trond’s mother drugs, and it was then that her husband just walked away, completely fed up with the insanity happening all around him? And similarly, what if this same thing happened with Thelma. We have evidence that this could actually be the case. 

Remember the scene where Thelma was smoking with her new “friends?” The scene where they were having her on? She wasn’t smoking drugs at all? Well, we saw that scene from two different perspectives as the movie progressed. At the time we thought that Anja and Thelma were making out. But that doesn’t make too much sense, because the guys didn’t react, no one reacted to this perceived reality. And later? We see that it was Thelma by herself. Better yet? She obviously wasn’t doing that there in the party, as the entire party would have completely upended. This was all happening completely in Thelma’s head. And there were other scenes like this throughout the course of the movie. Scenes that could have solely been in Thelma’s head, as opposed to happening “in real life.”

So who’s to say that any of these interactions really happened? What if Thelma only had a crush on Anja, but ultimately it was all inside her head? And better yet? Thelma has an active imagination, thus her ability to make happen whatever she wants to happen? And all of it a coping mechanism for her brother drowning in the lake at a young age. And her grandmother going nuts. And her father drowning in the lake (or committing suicide, which would have been understandable). Better yet, she’d prefer that her mother be healed, and able to walk, and so she believes that she healed her.

The Recurring Themes & Metaphors of Thelma

The themes and recurring elements that cycle through Thelma are pretty standard and stereotypical tropes. We have snakes. Huh. What could a snake possibly mean in this context? Well, obviously, snakes, since the earliest literature, have always been a reference to evil. And in many cultures signify Satan himself. Or demonic involvement. So if that’s the case, we have to pretty much take the snake down Thelma’s throat scene as literal. It’s an image signifying the literal possession of Thelma with the evil spirit that is “seizing” her.

The snakes are pretty easy to understand. A close by presence, possessing, horrifying, and controlling another. But what about the birds? Well, throughout literature, for ages and ages, birds have been viewed as intermediaries between the earth and the sky. So they are counterparts between the real and the spiritual worlds. Regularly in antiquity we see birds as warnings of spiritual doom, or physical disasters. But obviously each and every bird has different meanings to them. But in this context, we can see the birds and the snakes as counterparts to one another. Angels and demons, if you will. 

But What About the Ending?

Regardless of how you view the movie’s mechanics as working, the ending is problematic in about a billion different ways. Reminds me of the short interview I had with Colin Minihan, discussing his movie What Keeps You Alive. Which is also a film about lesbians, wherein one happens to be a serial killer. And I was pretty intent to find out how the expectations of treating lesbians carefully, and non-judgmentally, impacted his writing of the film. Well, with Thelma? This complication is 100 times worse. Why? Well, simply put, it’d be like if in a Marvel movie, The Red Witch mind controlled a woman to become her lover. Worse, it’d be like if Superman walked up to a handsome man and told him that he’d be doing the dishes tonight and never leaving again. Right?!? That’d be HORRIFIC! (Speaking of which, if you are interested in that sort of a movie plot line, the Steelheart books would be right up your alley.)

But this is exactly what happens at the end. So Thelma is with her parents. She kills her father by lighting him on fire with something like white phosphorous. (White Phosphorous lights on fire when it comes in contact with oxygen. Put it under water and it goes out, bring it back above the surface? Yup, it lights right back up. Evil, evil stuff.) Soon after she sees that Anja is back. And so she (heals her mother, which is a totally different conversation point…I mean, her mother was advocating that Trond kill her only the day before) heads back to the school. And there, we see the two of them happily getting along just like real love birds.

Mindjob Movie Thelma Explained and Unpacked

Only glitch? We see Thelma thinking about Anja. Coming up behind her and kissing her neck. And then? Anja comes up behind her, kisses her neck, and then says hello. Right? RIGHT!? This is horrifically awful. Mind-blowingly terrible. Thelma is forcing Anja, and everything Anja does in their relationship. We can’t even know if Anja is, in fact, gay!? Does that even compute? We can actually, with almost 100% certainty, say that Anja actually isn’t gay. 

Yes? No? Thoughts? What did you think of the movie? What theory am I missing? What do you think happened in the movie Thelma? 

Edited by, CY

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  • Hi there. A bit weird that I watched “What Keeps You Alive” and “Thelma” back to back and found your website looking for some explanations on “Thelma”. Anyways, I agree in pretty much anything you said. Movie is beautifully shot and kept me glued to the screen till the very end.

  • My take: when her father told her about how she could even make people do things (be loved by Anja) and not just disappear them in uncontrollable emotional fits, she realized just how powerful she was. Unlike her grandmother, she could even overcome the drug cocktail she was given. She could even bring back someone she’d disappeared and control them. And so she did. It even seemed like she was toying with her mother, healing her, but knowing full-well she could take her out just like she did with her father (and of course the mom knows that the father is gone in that scene, it part of her panic as she is healed). For me the final minutes were even more chilling than the burial scene and the child’s stare in the original Omen.

  • On the other hand, my version is that Thelma can not make people do things. What the father said to Thelma that “actually Anja doesn’t love her…. but because Thelma force Anja to love her by her mind, then Anja loves her” is just because the parents are religious so they don’t want Thelma is a lesbian (or the parent don’t want Thelma continue to likes a woman). Being a lesbian is a sin in her parent’s point of view.

    In the library, just before Thelma had a seizure, it was Anja who went to sit besides Thelma. When Thelma was swimming, it was Anja who first greeted her “hi…” and introduce her name to Thelma. Next, it was Anja who sent Thelma a friend request on facebook.

    But Yes, Thelma is falling in love with Anja soon after that.
    At the theater, it was Anja who starts holding Thelma’s hand. And (to me) Thelma face expression look like she is surprised but at the same time she likes it. Then Thelma’s hand starts to tremble but then Anja hold her hand. They went out of the theater, and Anja kiss her. If this moment is caused by Thelma’s mind, the scene show Thelma’s face expression is not like “aha… what I have Anja to do with me is happening now” :).

    Also, later on the party, Anja is asking why Thelma ignore her message which Thelma respond that she is busy. For me, it’s hard to think that Thelma by the power of her mind make Anja text her all the times, ignore Anja’s text, then make Anja complain about it on the party.

    I think Thelma’s ability (and her grandmother) is to make people disappear (or appear), not to make people like/hate her (or the grandmother). Something like “I like this human, abracadabra be here ! … I hate this human, abracadabra be gone !”

    Under her parents influence force (about religious thing), this caused Thelma hate Anja (while actually she love her) then have Anja disappear.

    The same with the father. After under pressure of her father to swallow the pill, she ask “let me go” but the father reply “go to sleep”. So she hates the father, then have the father disappear.

    After the father gone, no force anymore.
    Thelma never hate Anja (on the contrary love her), so she is thinking Anja kiss her neck. Abracadabra, Anja appear from behind her… yet Anja doesn’t kiss her neck as in Thelma’s mind before.

    But still, my version has a loophole which is the mother at last can walk after her leg touched by Thelma :).

  • I agree with your version. I do not think that Thelma mind controlled Anja to love her.. on the contrary.. I think Thelma was so overwhelmed by Anja and her own feelings for her that thise feelings caused in her for her power to emerge.. at the beginning the seizures frightened her.. she had no idea what was happening nor how to control it.. she wanted explanations for her condition and she also wanted her desires to disappear (hence all the prayers, feelings of guilt when she went out, drank with Anja or went to the party)… at the opera Thelma seemed frightened, aroused and at the same time had deep feelings of guilt after she kissed Anja (due to her Christian upbringing), did not look like a person who would have mind controlled the actions of Anja..
    Also.. at the party.. if she was able to control what other people do, she would not have let them convince her she was druged and embarass herself with masturbatung in front of others..
    I think what her dad told her was just to put her down.. just like they sedated her to be more calm.. to make her believe that her feelings and Anja’s feelings were not real and make her “forget” about it.. because her mum and dad could not accept their daughter being a lesbian…
    I do jot have a good explanation as of why did she kill her father bit I think she did that to free herself from the clutches of her father… making her mum walk was sort of an appology for killing her baby brother and to make her mother indepepndant.. because that day Tgelma probably broke all her connections with her parents forever..

  • The fact that she mind controlled Anja actually is proven in every version.
    We don’t know the extent of her power.
    But what we do know is that Anja appeared at thelma’s building without knowing why she was there and thought she had sent a text, shiwh she hadn’t.
    Then she stays the night because that’s what thelma wants deep down.
    All that happens is because of what she wants and thinks.
    Hence why the scene is repeated twice in the end. She wants it to happen and it happens.
    What happens with the fake weed is easily explanable, she believes it is actually weed and so she actually hallucinates through it.
    And when the friend tells her it’s not weed, the hallucination stops.

    All of it is because she wants it.


    You guys are all whack. Simple as this: she’s got a supernatural power — she can make people disappear and things happne. Trouble starts when she’s a kid. Her parents are super over religious and control her every move and every thought.

    But she goes to college and begins to “experience the world herself” as her father puts it. Meanwhile she starts struggling with her imprisoned past self (i.e. all scenes with parents) along with her new free self (i.e. smoking, drinking, falling in love with a girl).

    She then goes home, (i.e. back to the religious prison). She then confronts her father, (i.e. her captor) and sends him to a fiery hole at the bottom of the lake. However, she struggles even with this and goes to try to save him. But she’s not successful and he dies. But, with his death, she is finally unshackled and free, hence the black bird coming out of her mouth, then coming back to life and flying away once the dad is dead. This is the revelation and the new freeThelma.

    She then goes to see mom, who she now heals, then goes to bring Anja back. Life is grand and she lives happily ever after. (i.e. She’s finally freed herself from her religious nut job (or societal shackles, if you’re so inclined) and is able to harness her powers the way it was meant to be (i.e. not like what happened to grandma, who was left locked up in hospital room).



  • I tend to agree with Ed’s interpretation. The allegory is what’s driving the plot and behaviors of each character. Their actions are not to be taken literally, as if Anja is an automaton in Thelma’s world, and her dad really lit on fire, etc. Instead, now that Thelma is free of parental and societal shackles that are possessing her, she’s “exorcised the demon” and can allow her natural desires to manifest and attract authentic life experiences. No more angry child fantasy wishes running rampant.

    But I’m curious to understand, are the criticisms that the plot falls short of explaining the “supernaturalness” occurring? It couldn’t suspend our disbelief? I didn’t personally have an issue with this.

  • By the end of the movie Thelma had control on her powers she brought back her lover from past…healed her mother…why then couldn’t she brought her father back…she was distressed about him and tried ….she could even brought back her baby brother back with such kind of power….why didn’t she?

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