Despite Its Violence, Tarantino’s “Kill Bill Vol. 1” Locks Viewers In

By Julianne Boisvert

kill-bill-2003Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill Vol. 1 is an action film released in 2003. The bloody film chronicles the revenge of Beatrix Kiddo, an trained assassin who is fiercely determined to kill the mysterious Bill.

With a strong distaste for graphically violent movies, I was apprehensive about this assignment. Knowing Tarantino’s reputation for over-the-top brutality, I seriously doubted by stomach’s tolerance for this film and wondered how I would be able to comprehend the plot between covering my eyes during the more vividly violent scenes.  However, willing myself to sit down one Sunday and search Kill Bill on Netflix, I realized that although gruesome, this movie has a compelling story line.

In retrospect, I found the most disturbing scene to be the first one in which Uma Thurman is panting in a combination of terror, pain, despair and exhaustion. The blood and sweat on her face and the expression of helplessness make you fear for her character, who has yet to be fully introduced. The first line in which the low and controlled voice of Bill asks “Do you find me sadistic?” sent shivers down my spine and impelled me to keep watching.

The first major scene of action in which Beatrix comes to seek revenge on Vernita Green, a.k.a. Copperhead (Vivica A. Fox), is both visually and audibly violent. Seeing blood splatter from wounds is nothing compared to hearing shards of class from the coffee table shatter and cut into the skin of Beatrix. With scenes like this, Tarantino locks viewers in and makes it impossible to tear your eyes away fast enough to avoid witnessing the barbarity that is prominent throughout Kill Bill.

What I most admire about the film is that nearly every character is introduced with background, which is essential in order to make sense amongst the chaos. I liked how Tarantino incorporated animation at times to depict a flashback, which added variety to the continuous blood shed. Mirroring the brutality of live scenes within the cartoons emphasized the intensity of the film that made it a cult classic.

Meeting every character with the exception of Bill kept the intrigue high. The scene in which Elle Driver, a.k.a. California Mountain Snake (Daryl Hannah), arrives in the hospital room of Beatrix on assignment to kill her in her sleep, only to be instructed to abort the mission by Bill, conveys a conflict between the characters. It isn’t until the end of the movie that we discover the true complexity of the relationship between Bill and Beatrix.

As I said, I was not enthused about having to watch Kill Bill for this assignment. But the last scene in Volume 1, in which Bill asks Sofie Fatale if Beatrix knows her daughter is still alive caused me to impulsively press ‘play’ on Volume 2 in the two-disk set. I could not believe that this movie I semi-despised watching was so riveting that I had to know the final outcome, which I believe sums up Tarantino’s work. This type of savagery could never appeal to a mass audience without the brilliant story lines that accompany the visual and audible disturbances that characterize Tarantino’s work. 

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