By Reham Alawadhi
Kill Bill Vol. 1 is a creative fusion of different elements from various movie genres, all squeezed into one. From the very beginning, I noticed there were elements from old school Kung Fu movies. The music that plays before the movie starts, seems to be pulled from a 70s cop movie. The atmosphere quickly changes with a black and white shot of Uma Thurman’s bloody face.
From that scene, you can kind of sense you’re about to watch something a little different from the norm, which is usually the case in every Quentin Tarantino movie.
The use of black and white shots makes the scenes very dramatic and full of suspense. Whether you’re watching Kill Bill as your first Tarantino movie, or you’re a die-hard Tarantino fan, you will be hooked from the first few minutes.
I wondered if some of the scenes were purposely made into black and white so that the blood and gore was not as intense and obvious. Through some internet research I found out that the Motion Picture Association of America thought dismembered limbs and a lot of blood would be too much if shown in color, and would give the movie an NC-17 rating. The scene was then depicted in black and white, to tone down the gore, and be given an R rating. I personally did not even realize that the main fight scene was in black and white, until I went back and checked.
Normally, I hate watching any blood and gore in movies, but in Kill Bill, the gore was over exaggerated so much that it was often amusing and humorous. The gore was especially funny during the big fight scene, which led to the fighting with O-Ren Ishii, who is played by Lucy Lui. Watching Thurman pull out a man’s eyeball from its socket was so unrealistic, that it was comical.
Tarantino is known for his use of music in his movies. Some people think that his music choices don’t make sense in certain scenes, while others believe this is done purposely, to either achieve irony, humor, or some sort of other mood. One example of this in Kill Bill, is in the first scene after Thurman is shot, when the song Bang Bang (my baby shot me down) by Nancy Sinatra is used. The use of this song enhances the mood that was already present, even though it makes what happened blatantly obvious and in-your-face since a woman was just shot by the father of her baby.
Close up, zoomed in shots that linger for a long time are common throughout the movie. These scenes usually slowed the movie down, and amplified what was happening. At some points in the movie, these were hard to watch. The movie actually starts with a scene like this, and it was hard to watch because it was a close up of Thurman’s wounded and bloody face. It was also hard to watch the close up shots of Thurman’s long and narrow feet and misshapen toes, but props to her for being confident enough to allow them to film an uncomfortably long scene of her feet.
The movie has you asking questions from beginning to end, which I think is a smart move on Tarantino’s part because it will keep any type of person hooked, not just his avid fans. You wonder who this woman is, what her name is and why Bill and the rest of her team targeted her.
As I watched the movie I saw lots of elements taken from comics and anime. Anime is a type of animated production that is unique to Japan and is characteristic of spirited and vivid graphics. I almost felt like I should have been seeing cartoon-like word bubbles exclaiming “Wham! Bam! Pow!” as the fight scenes enthused.
The split screens, used when Thurman is still in a coma at the hospital, are very reminiscent of a comic strip when the artist is trying to show two things that are happening at the same time. Thurman is shown to be still and comatose while Elle Driver, portrayed by Daryl Hannah, is getting dressed in a fake nurse costume.
The fake nurse costume itself looks like something out of an anime cartoon because no one outside of a cartoon would believe that a nurse would wear an eye patch with a red cross on it.
The animated part in the middle of the story, which told the story of Ishii’s background, was a little unnecessary. I personally think it was done because had it been filmed, the gore might have taken the movie to a NC-17 rating. It was interesting at first, because it showed where the movie’s cinematography was influenced from, but it also dragged on for too long and I got bored waiting for the scene to return to normal.
Throughout the whole film, you never find out Thurman’s characters’ name. Every time it is uttered, it is beeped out. It’s surprising how you can root for a women’s cause without even knowing her name, but I can honestly say I can’t wait to watch – beep – kill Bill. Tarantino ended the movie perfectly, and guaranteed that everyone who watched it would want to watch Kill Bill Vol. 2, because of the huge cliffhanger at the end.
Kill Bill Vol. 1 – Written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. Released in 2003. Genre: action/crime/thriller. Runtime: 111 minutes. Rated R. Main cast: Uma Thurman, David Caradine, Lucy Lui, Vivica A. Fox, Daryl Hannah, Chiaki Kuriyama and Shin’ichi Chiba. ♦