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Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids!

David Jones (a.k.a. Latin hedonist extraordinaire Johnny Bacardi) on Quentin Tarantino’s Kill Bill:

Tarantino’s simply making film as collage, passing on the styles he loves- no more, no less. He’s not really aspiring to ART, even though if it happens during the course of the flick that’s just fine with him.

Most certainly! However, I’m not so sure the ‘artistic’ stuff in Kill Bill (the parts that seem to make a ‘statement’) are quite as accidental as David implies. I don’t think Tarantino is aspiring to art, I think he’s aspiring to undermine art. Every scene in which B.B. appears is full of critical commentary on the very revenge flicks Tarantino references incessantly. Bill’s Superman speech is especially perceptive in rejecting exactly the ending which the movie eventually gives us. Superman isn’t really Clark Kent, can’t really be Clark Kent, and Beatrix Kiddo can’t really be Mrs. Tommy Plimpton. Being a Mommy isn’t enough to get you out of the killing life, as Kill Bill so effectively demonstrates in its depiction of the Bride’s bloody revenge—revenge motivated by, how ironical, the loss of her child. Of course, you might aruge that Mommyhood does allow the Bride to escape her killing life, and the reason she goes back to it for her gory revenge is that she has lost her child and thus her ability to escape. But Bill’s argument is that this is a false hope, that maybe Beatrix thinks she can just be a Mommy and a non-assassin civilian, but she’s (ha ha) kidding herself. Besides, her escape into Mommyhood really was only temporary, and ended abruptly when her past arrived to murder her and her new surrogate family in the church. (Besides, being a Mommy redeems you? If that were really the ‘point’ of Kill Bill, what a cloying mess of smarminess it would be!) So the movie seems to go out of its way to point out that Beatrix is kidding herself with this Mommy stuff, but then it comes up with the most cynical possible ending, which is that yay, Beatrix gets to be Mommy and live happily with little B.B.! Tarantino seems to say, “You may think this movie means something, but I’ve made damn sure it doesn’t.”

Which I suppose is part of why I didn’t get a lot out of Kill Bill. I guess I liked it fine, but by the time it’s over Tarantino seems to have flipped right off the deep end of pomo whatever, and I’m not so sure I want to follow him. I much enjoy the collage aesthetic (I usually call it a remix or DJ aesthetic), but I prefer the playful expressiveness of, say, Moulin Rouge to the cynical play of Kill Bill.


  1. Johnny B says:

    But…but…I don’t really think QT is being as cynical as it must appear to you. Beatrix is the wronged heroine, on a quest to avenge the wrong done to her by Bill & Co. It’s a quest picture, so to speak, and I don’t really think the idea is to prove to B that she can’t be anything but a killer, despite Bill’s Superman speech, which is what he wants her to think. At first, she simply wants revenge, not knowing her child is alive (or if she did know it, it wasn’t made obvious to me, anyway)…but the revenge she enacts on the mall and the act of taking her child back totally refudiates the argument that she can’t be anything but. Just like anyone that feels like they don’t have to conform to the pigeonhole some would keep them in.

    Maybe I’m just being naive, but that’s the way it came across to me, anyway.

    — 24 May 2004 at 11:43 pm (Permalink)

  2. Johnny B says:

    “them all”. I don’t think she took out any shopping centers… :-)

    — 24 May 2004 at 11:44 pm (Permalink)

  3. Steven says:

    Well, I don’t know if it totally refudiates Bill’s argument. I mean, it does in the movie, but does that make sense? Surely there’s more to redemption than getting knocked up. So, well, I just think either Tarantino is quite cynical or he made a cloying mess of smarminess.

    As for Beatrix being the wronged heroine, though, I think I agree with Budd: “That woman deserves her revenge, and we deserve to die. But then again, so does she!” The Deadly Viper Assassination Squad tried to kill her, she killed them back, all in a day’s work for an assassin. The only thing that makes Beatrix different is she has a kid—well, Bill does too, of course, but apparently the Kid Redemption only works for Mommies. So that’s part of why I think the ending is cynical, that Beatrix gets a special moral pass just because she’s the protagonist. I don’t think it’s bad that the movie is cynical, mind you… It’s a fascinating movie, but not a satisfying one for me.

    — 25 May 2004 at 12:06 am (Permalink)

  4. peter says:

    That was a load of crap

    — 10 August 2004 at 9:44 pm (Permalink)

  5. peter says:


    — 10 August 2004 at 9:45 pm (Permalink)

  6. Kriss says:

    Kill Bill is pure art. Every line every action is drammatically thought out and beautifully reproduced. The added beauty to the whole deal is he managed to make an art film that was published and circulated within the pop media and distribution networks.

    — 30 December 2005 at 12:55 pm (Permalink)