Kill Bill

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Points of interest

Violence

Yes, mainly combat and violence and death, and the philosophy thereof.

The movie gives quite a coverage to all that, and all the rest is BTW.

More or less relevant references are :

Assassins

The D-VAS ("divas") (Deadly Viper Assassination Squad) are professional killers. Calling them "sadistic" is kinda short.

Rather, they are all characterized by a certain relationship with violence, which goes back to their respective genesises.

The only one we get to see in detail (in Kill Bill Vol. 1 & 2, at least) is O'Ren Ishii's.

Mukade, Ninja, Strikers, Muro

The Oni character the above theme directly links back to is of course Mukade : officially, head of the Syndicate's assassins "e basta".

More generally, it's the Strikers (much more than the Ninja) who are pictured as sadistic freaks driven by something similar to the D-VAS.

Some personal genesis in every specific case, and on the whole a taste for "executive" power over the weak, and an allegiance to their master : acknowledged superiority, comfortable ideals.

Muro then assumes a role similar to Bill's.

Back to Mukade, he can indeed appear as a mere thug, just a pawn in Muro=Bill's army of killers... or he can be someone more distant, the embodiment of a "way of the warrior" more idealistic and intemporal than Muro=Bill's pragmatism. Standing by whatever it is that codifies violence and makes it a philosophy.

"Muro=Bill" 's teacher, why not? How does Bill relate to his teachers : Pai Mei and Hattori Hanzo? How does Muro relate to Mukade?

(Barabas is Budd, of course ^^ )

And Bill in turn was a teacher for the Bride. Think Muro or Muro-sensei (Mai's inner Muro).

But, then again, the Bride didn't go Bill's way.

Once a "natural-born killer", she rediscovered the human in her, tried to leave violence behind... then "chose" to fight fire with fire, and eventually succeeded in liquidating her past (or did she?). Which may feed back into Mai's story, obviously enough.




O'Ren

A very special status for "Cottonmouth", as detailed earlier. We're given more of a chance to identify with O'Ren than for any other character.

Genesis

It is notable that this section of the movie is rendered as a (gory) anime. Rather well drawn and animated, I'd say.

It's also one of the only scenes picturing "brutal unarmed combat" rather than swordfighting :

  • the desperate fight of O'Ren's father (he kills two yakuzas with his bare hands)
  • an anime rendering of the Bride being beaten up by the D-VAS at the chapel

(maybe adding a little more info on those sequences later)


Rise to power

The scene is the one when O'Ren kills Boss Tanaka after becoming boss of all bosses in Tokyo.

It could be representative of what Muro did to the Syndicate (although he killed more people).

More generally, Kill Bill's rendering of the yakuza is probably a very good approximation of what Oni's Syndicate looked like (before or after Muro maps onto before and after O'Ren). It may also apply to META to some extent.

Battle Without Honor or Humanity

That's just the movie's heaviest beat, accompanying O'Ren's arrival at the House of Blue Leaves.

Simple and effective. (a similar theme plays while the 20-y.o. O'Ren, dressed in a scarlet catsuit, performs a routine "hit")




Bill

Quite a lot to say about "the Snake Charmer". For now, I'll just quote actual material.

Corrupter

Here's how he's presented in the opening scene in Tarantino's draft (directions, not dialogue) :


In another age, men who shook the world for their own purposes were called conquerors.
In our age, the men who shake the planet for their own power and greed are called corrupters.
And of the world's corrupters
Bill stands alone.
For while he corrupts the world,
inside himself he is pure.

(Bill is not exactly greedy, but he has a sick relationship with power, sure)

Superman

His final talk with the Bride comes readily to mind and is quite revelatory on its own.

That one is more complete in the final version than in the draft. It's a bit long, but I'll quote it anyway.

It's a killer trying to remind another killer of their ineluctable nature.

Think Mukade or the Old Man or Muro or Evil Konoko. "Corrupter" again, but it's more specific here.


BILL
Now...
...when it comes to you...
...and us...
...I have a few unanswered questions.
So, before this tale of bloody revenge reaches its climax,
I'm gonna ask you some questions,
and I want you to tell me the truth.
However, therein lies a dilemma.
Because when it comes to the subject of me,
I believe you are truly and utterly incapable
of telling the truth.
Especially to me.
And least of all,
to yourself.
And when it comes to the subject of me,
I am truly and utterly incapable
of believing anything you say.
THE BRIDE
How do you suppose we solve this dilemma?
BILL
Well,
it just so happens,
I have a solution.
(BILL shoots THE BRIDE in the leg with a needle of truth serum)
(THE BRIDE screams)
Gotcha!
THE BRIDE
(grunting) Goddamn!
BILL laughs
What the fuck did you just shoot me with?
BILL
My greatest invention.
Or at least my favorite.
Don't touch it, or I'll stick another one right in your cheek.
What lies within that dart, just begging to course its way through your veins...
...is an incredibly potent and quite infallible truth serum.
I call it "The Undisputed Truth."
Twice as strong as sodium pentothal,
with no druggie aftereffects.
Except for a slight wave of euphoria.
You feel it?
THE BRIDE
Euphoria?
BILL
Yeah.
THE BRIDE
No.
BILL
Too bad.
As you know...
...l'm quite keen on comic books.
Especially the ones about superheroes.
I find the whole mythology surrounding superheroes fascinating.
Take my favorite superhero, Superman.
Not a great comic book.
Not particularly well-drawn.
THE BRIDE
Mmm.
BILL
But the mythology...
The mythology is not only great,
it's unique.
THE BRIDE
How long does this shit take to go into effect?
BILL
About two minutes. Just long enough
for me to finish my point.
Now, a staple of the superhero mythology is,
there's the superhero
and there's the alter ego.
Batman is actually Bruce Wayne,
Spider-Man is actually Peter Parker.
When that character wakes up in the morning,
he's Peter Parker.
He has to put on a costume
to become Spider-Man.
And it is in that characteristic Superman stands alone.
Superman didn't become Superman.
Superman was born Superman.
When Superman wakes up in the morning,
he's Superman.
His alter ego is Clark Kent.
His outfit with the big red "S" -
that's the blanket he was wrapped in
as a baby when the Kents found him.
Those are his clothes.
What Kent wears
- the glasses,
the business suit -
that's the costume.
That's the costume Superman wears
to blend in with us.
Clark Kent is how Superman views us.
And what are the characteristics of Clark Kent?
He's weak...
...he's unsure of himself...
...he's a coward.
Clark Kent is Superman's critique on the whole human race.
Sorta like Beatrix Kiddo and Mrs. Tommy Plimpton.
THE BRIDE
Aso.
The point emerges.
BILL
You would've worn the costume of Arlene Plimpton.
But you were born Beatrix Kiddo.
And every morning when you woke up,
you'd still be Beatrix Kiddo.
Oh, you can...
take the needle out.
THE BRIDE
Are you calling me a superhero?
BILL
I'm calling you a killer.
A natural born killer.
You always have been,
and you always will be.
Moving to El Paso...
...working in a used record store...
...goin' to the movies with Tommy...
...clipping coupons.
That's you...
...trying to disguise yourself
as a worker bee.
That's you tryin' to blend in with the hive.
But you're not a worker bee.
You're a renegade killer bee.
And no matter how much beer you drank
or barbecue you ate
or how fat your ass got,
nothing in the world
would ever change that.

Life and death

Then there's the story about little B.B. killing Emilio (a goldfish) :


She told me later, that the second she lifted up her foot and saw him not flapping, she knew he was dead.
Is that not the perfect visual image of life and death?
A fish flapping on the carpet,
and a fish not flapping on the carpet.
So powerful even a five-year old child with no concept of life and death knew what it meant.
Not only did she know Emilio was dead, she knew she had killed him.
So she comes running into my room, holding Emilio in both of her little hands
- it was so cute -
and she wanted me to make Emilio better.
And I asked her, why did she step on Emilio?
And she said, she didn't know.
But I knew why.
You didn't mean to hurt Emilio, you just wanted to see what would happen if you stepped on him, right?

Of course there are more : just check out the transcripts.




Hattori Hanzo

The master recites a sort of "Way of the Warrior" when he hands his finest sword to the Bride.

  • The whole scene is in Japanese.
  • (EX) CU = (extreme) close-up.
  • V.O. = voice-over
OVER BLACK
TITLE APPEARS
One week later
Under black we hear Hattori Hanzo's voice in Japanese and read the subtitles
HANZO (V.O.)
I'm done doing what I swore an oath to God 28 years ago to never do again.
I've created
"something that kills people."
And in that purpose I was a success.
FADE UP ON
CU HATTORI HANZO
HANZO
I've done this
because philosophically
I'm sympathetic to your aim.
EX CU The HANZO SWORD
TRACKING EX CU of the Hanzo sword in its shiny, black wood sheath. At the base of the sheath, by the handle, he's carved the face of a lioness...
HANZO (V.O.)
I can tell you with no ego, this is my finest sword.
If on your journey, you should encounter God, God will be cut.
Little Red Riding Hood
(added value)
CU HANZO
HANZO
Revenge is never a straight line.
It's a forest.
And like [in] a forest
it's easy to lose your way...
to get lost...
to forget where you came in.
To serve as a compass,
a combat philosophy must be adopted
that can be found in the secret doctrine
of the Yagu Ninja.
And now my yellow-haired warrior, repeat after me :
We go back and forth between CU of HANZO reciting the doctrine like a samurai drill instructor and the Bride repeating it.
HANZO
"When engaged in combat,
the vanquishing of thine enemy
can be the warrior's only concern...
The Bride repeats this...
HANZO
...This is the first
and cardinal
rule of combat...
The Bride repeats this...
HANZO
...Suppress all human emotion
and compassion...
The Bride repeats this...
HANZO
...Kill whoever stands in thy way,
even if that be Lord God,
or Buddha himself...
The Bride repeats this...
HANZO
This truth
lies at the heart
of the art of combat.
Once it is mastered...
Thou shall fear no one...
Though the devil himself may bar thy way...
The Bride repeats this... Her eyes look at the greatest maker of swords on this earth and [she] says...
THE BRIDE
Domo.
EX CU The Hanzo Sword,
her white hand with her long fingers COMES INTO FRAME
and removes the beautiful, artful instrument of vengeance.
FADE TO BLACK.