Kill Bill Movie Review
In film, there are many ways one can tell a story through different forms of narratives. In Quentin Tarantino’s movie “Kill Bill Vol 1 & 2”, he uses what is called a non-chronological narration. Non-chronological narrative or non-linear narratives is a technique used in story telling where the events are potrayed in a non-chronological order. It is known by non-chronological narrative, every storytelling that is not told in a sequential order as beginning, middle, and end, but instead a medium which sets the events although out of a chronological timeline.
Usually it is designed in such a way where it will seem like that of human memory although that is not always the case. This technique is a favourite of directors such as Quentin Tarantino and Chris Nolan as seen in films such as Pulp Fiction and Inception. Originally designed to be a single movie, the saga of The Bride in Kill Bill was later divided in two volumes as required by its developers during the screen time’s length. Inspired by the book The Bride Wore Black from 1940, by the American author Cornell Woolrich,, a film clearly paying homage to the old samurai, kung fu, and western movies.
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The movie presented an outstanding soundtrack and photography, going further to Japanese animation to complete black and white frames. Portrayed by Uma Thurman, The Bride’s saga was not only about sword fighting and limbs being ripped off from warriors and assassins, but this impression would just be noted in 2004 when the second volume was released. It was not about a sequence, but part of the same story the previous volume showed. For those who observed the entire structure, Kill Bill had a non-chronological narrative characteristic as previous Tarantino’s works had, mainly Pulp Fiction from 1994.
The time factor in a narrative, as Lothe (2000, p. 53) points out, is ‘a factor that constitutes both the story and the discourse’. This allegation finds support in another quote from ten years earlier (STERNBERG apud BAL, 1990, p. 94), in a point where the author refers to previous studies. The main aspect for this work to exist may be established by Jakob’s concept: ‘Part of what makes the concept of time so complex is that it is linked both to the physical world and to our perception of the world (and thereby of ourselves). Furthermore, our perception of time varies’ (LOTHE, 2000, p. 49).
The confusedness in narrative, even disliked among many, is one of the most valued triumphs conquered by this masterpiece. The relevance of time was taken into consideration, giving space for what Lothe (2000, p. 62) refers as ‘Eisenstein–Bazin debate’. At one hand, Bazin defends spatial dominance when it comes to film theory. Summarizing his words, he believes ‘nature’ must be presented according to its very essence, truly and whole above any other perspective. On the other hand, ‘For Eisenstein it is on the contrary time that is more important, since film images can only be combined sequentially in the projection process’ (Idem).
Time may not be, perhaps, the highest in a chart of importance regarding cinematographic stories, but what should one do in cases like Kill Bill? Having found the significance of time and the non-chronological bearing based in the sources at hand, a deeper assess over the movement in Kill Bill’s narration initiated. Taking Jakob’s studies as reference, who based his discussion on Genette’s previous punctuations, the analyzed film was explored in its analepsis and prolepsis evocations. According to Lothe (2000, p. 4), ‘Analepsis is an evocation of a story-event at a point in the text where later events have already been related, i. e. narration jumps back to an earlier point in the story’. The chapter still shows three divisions made by Genette inside this first evocation. The idea of this work was to find scenes which better represented the kinds of analepsis in the two volumes of the story. The primary definition to the external analepsis is where ‘the time of the story in the analepsis lies outside and prior to the time of the main narrative.
Following this description, the scene in Volume 2 where the viewer finally discovers The Bride’s real name was selected here. During ‘Chapter Nine: Elle and I’, the character Elle Driver is phoning Bill, notifying her master the location where The Bride, now known by her real name, Beatrix Kiddo, is buried. It is the first time the Black Mamba’s name is spoken in the story, and a retrospective sequence is shown: a teacher doing the role call in a classroom, Beatrix is the third ‘kid’. She is pictured as an adult dressed like a child to answer her.
It is a movement which goes back the whole story, a flashback of Beatrix’s infancy, irrelevant to the main plot. For the matter Lothe (p. 55) even asserts that the external variant ‘often takes the form of a supplement to the main narrative’. The scene chosen for the second type is the story of Vernita Green told by The Bride in voice-over narration. While the two fighters are cleaning themselves in the kitchen and Vernita is preparing some coffee, the voice-over narration tells what the former Copperhead which is Vernita’s alias was doing during the period of four years The Bride was in a coma.
A clear case of an internal analepsis, when ‘the narration goes to an earlier point in the story, but this point is inside the main story’ (p. 54). The third type is the mixed analepsis, and it ‘means that the time period covered by the analepsis starts before but leads up to or jumps into the main narrative’ (p. 55). The selected part was ‘Chapter Eight: The Cruel Tutelage of Pai Mei’. Describing it is unnecessary, being relevant to point out only where the chapter applies itself in the stor.
The whole chapter has many functions, mainly to show how The Bride acquired the knowledge to escape her coffin and to indicate her skills’ development by Pai Mei’s side as his apprentice. It is only through this analepsis that the viewer may realize why The Bride says what she does in Volume 1 after defeating the Crazy 88’s gang about owning their lambs lost in battle. For prolepsis, Lothe states: ‘any narrative manoeuvre that consists in evoking in advance an event that will take place later’ (Idem). Chapter One:2’ is undoubtedly the best example of this evocation, given the realization it demands a lot to the story to develop until reaching its events in chronological time. That Kill Bill is exempt of discussion when coming to non-chronological quality in cinema is very much lucid. Stories, nevertheless, exist everywhere and may be told in many variations. For this purpose, it is relevant to analyze not only other films, including from Quentin Tarantino’s franchise, but also stories inside other medias’ narrative universes that bring events which although correlative, are placed seemingly unconnected.
Tarantino is strongly passionate about non-chronological style, a characteristic among so many which defines his successful trademark. The first ideas for the creation of Kill Bill started during the time Tarantino was filming Pulp Fiction in 1994, one of the most acclaimed masterpieces of the last decade of the 20th century. As well as the director’s fourth film, Pulp Fiction is presented in a non – linear timeline too. Its chronological sequence is even more intricate than Kill Bill’s, which the viewer may assume the correct order of events after watching it only two or three times.
The disordered technique appears, although not that much, in Tarantino’s recent Inglourious Basterds from 2009. The movie is divided in five chapters, and there are cases of analepsis in various points in the narrative. However, this kind of storytelling is not deliberately for a stylistic subject. Two examples are Memento (2000) and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004). The first sample tells the story of Leonard Shelby (Guy Pearce), a guy who suffers from amnesia desperately in search of justice through revenge against his wife’s murderer.
The film is showed in fragmented pieces, even more confused than some of the Tarantino’s stories. Yet confusing, the narration intends to guide the viewer through Shelby’s mind, his perception of demanding facts to repeat over and over again since his short time memory, like Lothe (2000, p. 60) calls repetitive narration. In the latter example, Jim Carrey’s Joel Barish tries to erase his remembrances of his girlfriend by hiring a service to the purpose.
While in the extinguishing process, Joel attempts to escape from his decisions, which brings the viewer a perception of Joel’s memories, clearly lost in time. The only thing guiding the viewer is the hair color of his girlfriend which keeps changing along the whole movie and may help to identify when the facts take place. Non-choronological narration is not restrictive to a specific media: it comes along human history throughout several areas, contributing one way or another to the construction of stories, most of times fitting them well.
Rather than bringing confusion to the interlocutor, complex storylines turn their content interesting, intriguing, rich, not less worthy of contemplation than stories following ordered steps. As discussed, narration has many forms as creativity and world perceptiveness’ perspectives allow. Non-chronological narrative is, indeed, quite common inside stories. In fact, a narrative that initiates in point zero and goes straight to its end is uncommon to be found. Seldom or not, a storyline which follows strictly forward movement is usually best acknowledged by interlocutors.
The motion picture Kill Bill, as also seen, is only one example of a story told in disordered pieces – where time does exist, but its past circumstances interferes in active and/or passive manners; of course, most remarkably in fiction. And the movie finishes making total sense, as Ebert (2004) comments: ‘Put the two parts together, and Tarantino has made a masterful saga that celebrates the martial arts genre while kidding it, loving it, and transcending it’. The initial sentence of Volume 1 drops the subject: ‘Revenge is a dish best served cold’.
I found some explanations over this human sense of ‘unfinished businesses’ from an American philosopher to clarify the vendetta definition. The primitive sense of the just which is remarkably constant from several ancient cultures to modern institutions starts from the notion that a human life is a vulnerable thing, a thing that can be invaded, wounded, violated by another’s act in many ways. For this penetration, the only remedy that seems appropriate is a counter invasion, equally deliberate, equally grave. And to right the balance truly, the retribution must be exactly, strictly proportional to the original encroachment.
It differs from the original act only in the sequence of time and in the fact that it is response rather than original act – a fact frequently obscured if there is a long sequence of acts and counteracts (NUSSBAUM, 1999, p. 157-158 – my underlines). If still not obvious, the entire film is about the heroine fighting for her concept of justice through vengeance. There is a line, strongly worthy of consideration, told by Hattori Hanzo in Volume 1 which might bring an answer. ‘Revenge is never a straight line. It’s a forest. And like a forest it’s easy to lose your way, to forget where you came in’.
In such case, Kill Bill is simply a reflex of its main subject. Tarantino’s idea, as seen in other director’s works, was to place events so the viewer of the film would feel as lost as the avenger ninja felt. The obscure narrative exists on purpose, and it definitely achieves its goal. The attempt to an analogy remains. Is life chronological? Meaning, in other words, is life actually divided in being born, living, and dying in the end? There are many times when I only find an explanation to the present when facing past events which may indirectly relate to current time.
After all, human mind works this way: the brain is always correlating what is happening now to previous experiences and wisdom acquired during someone’s lifetime. To appreciate a story told out of chronological order may be a challenge for many, however not as much than conciliating life by only looking forward, avoiding contemplation, disarranging the true harmony of living.
#66 THE BRIDE. THE 100 GREATEST MOVIE CHARACTERS. Empire Online. . No date. EBERT, Roger. Kill Bill, Volume 2. Movie reviews . April 16, 2004. ETERNAL SUNSHINE OF THE SPOTLESS MIND.
Director: Michel Gondry. Producers: Anthony Bregman; Charlie Kaufman; David L. Bushell; Georges Bermann. Writers: Michel Gondry; Charlie Kaufman; Pierre Bismuth. Actors: Jim Carrey; Kate Winslet; Tom Wilkinson; Gerry Robert Byrne; Elijah Wood; Kirsten Dunst; and others. Universal Studios, 2004. 1 DVD (108 min). DVD Release Date: September 28, 2004. INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS. Director: Quentin Tarantino. Producer:LawrenceBender. Writer: Quentin Tarantino. Actors: Brad Pitt; Christoph Waltz; Diane Kruger; Eli Roth; Mike Myers; and others. Universal Studios, 2009. 1 DVD (153 min).
DVD Release Date: December 15, 2009. KILL BILL. Article. . KILL BILL – Volume One. Director: Quentin Tarantino. Producers: Bob Weinstein; Dede Nickerson; E. Bennett Walsh; Erica Steinberg; Harvey Weinstein. Writers: Quentin Tarantino; Uma Thurman. Actors: Uma Thurman; David Carradine; Daryl Hannah; Michael Madsen; Lucy Liu; and others. Miramax, 2003. 1 DVD (110 min). DVD Release Date: April 13, 2004. KILL BILL – Volume Two. Director: Quentin Tarantino. Producers: Bob Weinstein; Dede Nickerson; E. Bennett Walsh; Erica Steinberg; Harvey Weinstein. Writers: Quentin Tarantino; Uma Thurman.
Actors: Uma Thurman; David Carradine; Michael Madsen; Daryl Hannah; Lucy Liu; and others. Miramax, 2004. 1 DVD (137 min). DVD Release Date: August 10, 2004. LOTHE, Jakob. Narrative Time and Repetition. In: Narrative in Fiction and Film: An Introduction. New York City:OxfordUniversity Press, 2000. p. 49-71. MEMENTO. Director: Christopher Nolan. Producers: Aaron Ryder; Christopher Ball; Elaine Dysinger; Emma Thomas; Jennifer Todd. Writers: Christopher Nolan; Jonathan Nolan. Actors: Guy Pearce; Carrie-Anne Moss; Joe Pantoliano; Mark Boone Junior; Russ Fega; and others. Sony Pictures, 2000. 1 DVD (113 min).
DVD Release Date: September 4, 2001. PEARY, Gerald. Kill Bill Vol. 1. WBUR website. . November, 2003. PULP FICTION. Director: Quentin Tarantino. Producer:LawrenceBender. Writers: Quentin Tarantino; Roger Avary. Actors: John Travolta; Samuel L. Jackson; Uma Thurman; Bruce Willis; and others. Miramax, 1994. 1 DVD (154 min). DVD Release Date: August 20, 2002. STERNBERG, Meir. Telling in time (I): chronology and narrative theory. Poetics Today. v. 11, n. 4, Winter 1990, p. 901-948. In: BAL, Mieke (ed. ). Critical Concepts in Literary and Cultural Studies. USA andCanada: Routledge, 2004. p. 93-137.