Watch: Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Pulp Fiction’ Shaped Vince Gilligan’s ‘Breaking Bad’

Watch: Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Pulp Fiction’ Shaped Vince Gilligan’s ‘Breaking Bad’

Quentin Tarantino’s ‘Pulp Fiction’ left its stamp on everything following it. Menus. Radio stations. T-shirts. A legion of films. And so why not a television show as well, namely ‘Breaking Bad’? Jorge Luengo Ruiz‘s newest video shows us, fairly inarguably, the parallels between the film and Vince Gilligan’s auteur-ish show—shots, blocking, general affect, the story of a chemistry teacher’s deranged redemption—so that one might begin to wonder, faintly, when will Tarantino’s influence stop? Will it stop? Hopefully not.

Watch: Quentin Tarantino’s Shots from Above Put Him in the Center of the Frame

Watch: Quentin Tarantino’s Shots from Above Put Him in the Center of the Frame

Generally, shots from above serve to belittle the action taking place on screen; they remind us that, regardless of how involved we may be in the events unfolding there, we are all merely ants skittering across the surface of Earth, and the plot of the film is, really, just that. But in Quentin Tarantino’s case, the impact is slightly different. Emphasis is indeed taken off the action on-screen, but it is placed back on… the director. When we see an overhead shot in a Tarantino film, we are reminded that the film we are watching is personally crafted and bears the weight of significant personal investment–it’s somewhat of an auteur’s calling card. In Pablo Fernández Eyre’s latest piece, he takes us through shots in films ranging from Pulp Fiction to Jackie Brown to Kill Bill Vol. 2, to show us the director’s removed control at work.  

Watch: Seijun Suzuki, A Director Who Influenced Quentin Tarantino, Jim Jarmusch, John Woo, and Others

Watch: Seijun Suzuki, A Director Who Influenced Tarantino, Jarmusch, Woo, and Others

[A transcript follows.]

If you enjoy the films of Quentin Tarantino, Park Chan-wook, John Woo, Takashi Miike, and Jim Jarmusch, then you might want to check out the man who influenced them all—Seijun Suzuki. Suzuki is responsible for some of Japan’s most stylish and sometimes downright insane action movies of the 1960s.
He was born in Tokyo, Japan in 1923. Suzuki failed the entrance exam for the University of Tokyo, so a friend convinced him to try taking film classes at Kamakura Academy. He started working as an assistant director in 1948 for a major studio named Shochiku.
In 1954, Suzuki started working for Nikkatsu—Japan’s oldest major studio. He started out as an Assistant Director at Nikkatsu, but in 1956, he directed his first feature film, a B movie called ‘Harbour Toast: Victory is in Our Grasp.’
In 1963, Suzuki worked with the chipmunk-cheeked Joe Shishido in the lead role of ‘Detective Bureau 2–3: Go to Hell, Bastards!’ about a private investigator who infiltrates a Yakuza clan. He teamed up with Shishido again for his next film, made in the same year, titled ‘Youth of the Beast.’ Even though both of these films share a very similar story and came out in the same year, ‘Youth of the Beast’ represents a turning point in Suzuki’s style. 
Stunning use of color and creative shot choices made ‘Youth of the Beast’ stand out against the many other movies Nikkatsu released. And ‘many’ is an undserstatement—Nikkatsu’s schedule had them releasing two new films every single week.
That style would fully develop in ‘Tokyo Drifter’ where we see a beautiful use of color and modern art production design in a way that appears almost theatrical. This film showcases his western influences and we even see an homage to the Hollywood western in this bar room brawl.
Shishido starred in only four Suzuki films, but despite their short-lived collaboration, their movies would be among Suzuki’s greatest and most well-known. Suzuki’s most well-known film—and let’s face it, clearly his best—was a huge financial failure. Its screenings were sparsely attended and Nikkatsu president, Kyusaku Hori called the film, ‘incomprehensible’ and fired Suzuki from Nikkatsu. It was his 40th film for the studio. The film is called ‘Branded to Kill’ and follows Hanada, the Yakuza’s number three best hitman on the run after a hit gets botched when a butterfly lands on the barrel of his sniper rifle causing him to miss his shot.
Suzuki’s experience and the perfecting of his style shines through in this creative masterpiece that includes everything you could want from an action movie—lots of sex, violence, and general badassery, but there is another level with ‘Branded to Kill’ that didn’t exist in his earlier program pictures. In order to write the film, Suzuki assembled a team of writers he called Hachiro Guryu (or ‘Group of Eight’). Suzuki didn’t spend a lot of time on pre-production and he never storyboarded his scenes, opting instead to come up with ideas as he shot. Since Nikkatsu was releasing two films a week, the shooting schedule was at a breakneck pace—the whole film from pre to post production was only 25 days and all of the editing and looping lines was completed in one day, which happened to be the day before its release.
Suzuki sued Nikkatsu for wrongful termination and won, but he was blacklisted by every studio for ten years. In 2001, he made a sequel to ‘Branded to Kill’ called ‘Pistol Opera’ and his latest film, ‘Princess Raccoon,’ (made in 2005) is a musical based on a folk tale from Japan. He’s still kicking at 92 years old with 54 films under his belt. While his days of filmmaking are over, there is no doubt that his work will continue to inspire others for many years to come.
Clips used:
Reservoir Dogs (1992 Dir. Quentin Tarantino)
Oldboy (2003 Dir. Park Chan-wook)
Hard Boiled (1992 Dir. John Woo)
Ichi the Killer (2001 Dir. Takashi Miike)
Ghost Dog: The Way of the Samurai (1999 Dir. Jim Jarmusch)
Branded to Kill (1967 Dir. Seijun Suzuki)
Harbour Toast: Victory is in Our Grasp (1956 Dir. Seijun Suzuki)
Detective Bureau 2-3: Go to Hell, Bastards! (1963 Dir. Seijun Suzuki)
Youth of the Beast (1963 Dir. Seijun Suzuki)
Tokyo Drifter (1966 Dir. Seijun Suzuki)
Youth of the Beast (1963 Dir. Seijun Suzuki)
Pistol Opera (2001 Dir. Seijun Suzuki)
Princess Raccoon (2005 Dir. Seijun Suzuki)
Music used:
Branded to Kill (1967 Dir. Seijun Suzuki)
Tokyo Drifter (1966 Dir. Seijun Suzuki)
Youth of the Beast (1963 Dir. Seijun Suzuki)
Sources used:
Schilling, Mark. No Borders, No Limits: Nikkatsu Action Cinema. Godalming, England: FAB, 2007. Print.

Tyler Knudsen, a San Francisco Bay Area native, has been a student of film for most of his life. Appearing in several television commercials as a child, Tyler was inspired to shift his focus from acting to directing after performing as a featured extra in Vincent Ward’s What Dreams May Come. He studied Film & Digital Media with an emphasis on production at the University of California, Santa Cruz and recently moved to New York City where he currently resides with his girlfriend.

Watch: Quentin Tarantino’s Best Visual Film References… in Three Minutes!

Watch: Quentin Tarantino’s Best Visual Film References… in Three Minutes!

It is a well known fact that Quentin Tarantino is a self-proclaimed
cinephile.  But the writer/director’s love for cinema is most obviously
expressed through his own films.  In addition to showing his characters
spending a great deal of time discussing cinema, Tarantino’s films are
jam-packed with homages and visual references to the movies that have
intrigued him throughout his life. 

filmmakers pay homage, but Tarantino takes things a step further by
replicating exact moments from a variety of genres and smashing them
together to create his own distinct vision.  Just like ‘Kill Bill: Vol 2
(2004) draws on ‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly‘ (1966) and ‘Samurai
‘ (1998), Tarantino’s work often reflects Spaghetti Westerns and
Japanese cinema–both new and old.  His unique way of referencing other
films allows him to bend genre boundaries and shatter the mold of what
we expect to experience.  While his methods are often criticized and he
is accused of "ripping off" other filmmakers, it seems that Tarantino is
simply writing love letters to the art he is ever so passionate about. 
From German silent-cinema to American B
movies, the following video uses split-screen to demonstrate a few of
the hundreds of visual film references over the course of Tarantino’s
Tarantino Films:
‘Reservoir Dogs’ (1992)
‘Pulp Fiction’ (1994)
‘Jackie Brown’ (1997)
‘Kill Bill: Vol. 1’ (2003)
‘Kill Bill: Vol. 2’ (2004)
‘Death Proof’ (2007)
‘Inglourious Basterds’ (2009)
‘Django Unchained’ (2012)
Referenced Films (in order of appearance):
‘City on Fire’ (1987)
‘Django’ (1966)
‘Band of Outsiders’ (1964)
‘8 1/2’ (1963)
‘The Warriors’ (1979)
‘Psycho’ (1960)
‘Kiss Me Deadly’ (1955)
‘The Flintstones’ (1960-66)
‘Superchick’ (1973)
‘The Graduate’ (1967)
‘Citizen Kane’ (1941)
‘Goke, Body Snatcher From Hell’ (1968)
‘Lady Snowblood’ (1973)
‘City of the Living Dead’ (1980)
‘Black Sunday‘ (1977)
‘Game of Death’ (1978)
‘Miller’s Crossing’ (1990)
‘Death Rides a Horse’ (1966)
‘Gone in 60 Seconds’ (1974)
‘Samurai Fiction’ (1998)
‘Blade Runner’ (1982)
‘The Searchers’ (1956)
‘Once Upon a Time in the West’ (1968)
‘Five Fingers of Death’ (1972)
‘The Good, the Bad and the Ugly’ (1966)
‘Convoy’ (1978)
‘The Bird With the Crystal Plumage’ (1970)
‘Unforgiven’ (1992)
‘The Searchers’ (1956)
‘Metropolis’ (1927)
‘Django’ (1966)
‘Gone With the Wind’ (1939)
‘The Great Silence’ (1968)
‘A Professional Gun’ (1968)

Jacob T. Swinney is an industrious film editor and filmmaker, as well as a recent graduate of Salisbury University.

Watch: 7 Reasons Why KISS ME DEADLY Is the Greatest Noir Film of All Time

Watch: 7 Reasons Why KISS ME DEADLY Is the Greatest Noir Film of All Time

Quentin Tarantino in ‘Pulp Fiction.’ David Fincher in ‘Se7en.’ David Lynch in ‘Lost Highway.’ These directors, and many others, were all influenced by Robert Aldrich’s 1955 film noir milestone ‘Kiss Me Deadly.’ In this haunting and frequently inspired piece, 

Königsburg lists seven reasons why the film is so important–and in so doing she manages to bring in everything from ‘Friends’ to Ronald Reagan. The film itself was a bizarre masterpiece, but this analysis by Königsburg is a challenging work on its own, acquiring independent power as it moves along.

Watch: An Exhilarating Supercut of Quentin Tarantino’s Profile Shots

Watch: An Exhilarating Supercut of Quentin Tarantino’s Profile Shots

Watching this supercut of profile shots from Tarantino’s films is like having a cup of visual espresso. Part of it is the idea of the profile shot itself. Have you ever noticed that no one quite looks themselves in profile? There’s always something a little more vulnerable there, possibly because only half of the face is visible, the rest concealed from view. In Rishi Kaneria’s newest piece, we see side views of many of Quentin Tarantino’s most beloved characters: Vincent Vega (John Travolta), The Bride (Uma Thurman), Max Cherry (Robert Forster), O-Ren Ishii (Lucy Liu), and others, flash in front of our face, first slowly, and then faster and faster until all we see is one mottled face we could call the Tarantino face, an amalgam of sensitivity and toughness, of jocularity and aloofness. And Kaneria makes the prescient choice of running the drum track from Whiplash under the piece, ratcheting up the tension, turning a 45-second video into a substantial little film, in and of itself.

WATCH: Why DOES Quentin Tarantino Do Close-Ups in ‘Pulp Fiction’? A Video Study

WATCH: Why DOES Quentin Tarantino Do Close-Ups in ‘Pulp Fiction’? A Video Study

To say that Quentin Tarantino revels in exploitation is not an insult. One can exploit for one’s own gain as well as for the sake of a work. In ‘Pulp Fiction,’ Tarantino exploits everything there is to exploit. He exploits a wallet. He exploits a briefcase. He exploits running shorts. He even exploits John Travolta! He takes these images and figures–which aren’t real by the film’s end, having become refigured by his crazed imagination–and milks them for whatever he thinks their particular power might be. And afterwards, the images, people, actions acquire a rare charge, possibly symbolic, possibly merely electric–the kind of electricity generated when a director reaches out and touches the surface of the viewer’s imagination. And for this purpose he uses… the
close-up shot. Mark Fraser’s video montage shows us these close-ups in detail and, seen this way, their purpose becomes abundantly clear and immanent.

Watch: Why DO the Characters in Quentin Tarantino’s PULP FICTION Spend So Much Time in the Bathroom?

Watch: Why DO the Characters in Quentin Tarantino’s PULP FICTION Spend So Much Time in the Bathroom?

Of the myriad questions raised by Quentin Tarantino’s now-classic Pulp Fiction, I would have to confess that one of them was not, for me, "Why do the film’s characters spend so much time in the bathroom?" And yet this video essay by Michele Bucci raises the question, and answers it, and argues for its validity. The answer is more complicated than you might think–it reaches towards both the true definition of pulp, as well as examining what’s going on (beyond the obvious) when Vincent Vega, Mia Wallace, et al. are in that little room. Enjoy!

METAMERICANA: Why James Franco’s MAKING A SCENE Is Worth Your Patience

METAMERICANA: Why James Franco’s MAKING A SCENE Is Worth Your Patience


half century-long postmodern era—roughly, 1945 to 1995—gave us the
parody, in which an artwork comments on and finally trivializes its
source material by closely emulating it. Our present period in art has
given us something superficially similar but in fact quite different:
the remake, in which an artwork comments on art itself by differentially
reproducing an earlier work. In a remake, it may simply be that primary
elements in the source material are retooled (as with
James Franco and Seth Rogen’s shot-for-shot re-shoot of Kanye West’s "Bound 2" music video), or it may be that the concept of the original work is
maintained while all its constituent elements are refurbished (as with the new sequence of Spider-Man
movies). The purpose of the remake is not to deconstruct and critique
an original artifact, but to reconstruct, and thereby expand upon, an
idea that’s already implicitly been deconstructed by our earlier
consumption of it. Franco’s newest project,
the AOL On Originals television series "Making a Scene," deserves
credit for using dated but immediately recognizable source material to
create cinematic moments entirely of our time—and moments that are
remakes rather than parodies, for which reason alone they deserve more
attention than we might otherwise offer them.
frequently, we confuse remakes
with parodies because we assume ironic intent on the part of a remake’s
author. In reality, remakes, however funny they may sometimes seem to
us, are merely opportunities for us to envision how an artistic idea
might otherwise have played out. This "re-visioning" has a significant
social function; in a time in which we are constantly erasing and
recreating, online, both ourselves and the texts and imagery we
associate with ourselves, remakes are an instrumental good. They confirm
for us our ability, even in the chaos of the Information Age, to
idiosyncratically process intensely personal data in a way we find
satisfying. Just as Franco’s "Bound 2"
paradoxically opted to remake rather than parody West as a way of
clearing space for its own artistic vision, Making a Scene is not
about looking for a cheap laugh. Rather it is concerned with—all the
show’s superficial trappings aside—promoting a lingering
as we can and must distinguish between parodies and remakes, there’s a
difference between pastiche (a postmodern technique in which one artist
imitates the style of another) and intertextuality (a technique native
to the current era, in which a single artist uses multiple source
materials to construct an entirely new statement). Where pastiche calls
attention to the banality and of the past and the ease with which we can
commodify it in the present—thereby deconstructing both past and
present—intertextuality is entirely about the creation of the new. Making a Scene may use the remake and
the "mash-up" as its tactical components, but its strategic ambition is
an important statement on intertextuality. When Franco
"mashes up" two
movies (through a chaotic juxtaposition of characters and scenes), he
simultaneously honors and creates critical distance from the films he
who see Franco’s Making a Scene as a thoroughly cynical enterprise
are seeing it through a lens it entirely rejects. Though it’s
especially hard to do with the work of James Franco, it’s important to
distinguish between how a work makes us feel (which is often a product
of our biases) and
what a work is capable of making
us feel. As with all Franco’s other recent projects, Making a Scene
offers little if you treat it as merely another basis for your ongoing
grievance against Franco—an imposition upon you personally that the
actor intends condescendingly—and seems a minor act of genius if you
consider how much it runs against the conventional wisdom of late
postmodernism. Franco’s aim in Making a Scene seems to be to play
"straight" a series of gestures his audience can’t possibly take
seriously, thereby challenging them to consider whether we still live in
the age of parody or, instead, the age of what cultural theorists call
"informed naivete."
The difference between pastiche and intertextuality has been recently discussed by Dutch cultural theorists Tim Vermeulen and Robin van den Akker in ArtPulse,
and the distinction is worth consideration by anyone who is sick of hipster
irony and poststructuralist moping. What we learn from Vermuelen and van
den Akker is that Franco is not actually asking to be taken
seriously—or, in the alternative, to be laughed at. All he’s doing is
enacting a series of data-processing
events that many people are always-already engaged in anyway. Do you
remember the movie Reservoir Dogs? Good. How about Dirty Dancing?
Okay. Do your memories of movies as distinct as these two sometimes run
together, so that you accidentally attribute actors and scenes and
one-liners to one movie that actually belong to another? If you’re
anything like me, the answer is sure—sometimes. And if you’re like me,
the sensation of feeling like you’re drowning in popular culture and
your own life experiences is not always, in fact is not often,
particularly unpleasant. Our experiences shape us, and our local and
national cultures often act as our psychic foundation, a fact that
contemporary art like Franco’s performs without judgment or irony. Thus
this mash-up of Reservoir Dogs and Dirty Dancing
from the first episode of Making a Scene, which shows Jennifer Grey’s
character superimposed over a (literally) tortured patrolman from
Tarantino’s smash hit, just as Tarantino’s Mr. Blonde is laid atop
Patrick Swayze’s ne’er-do-well dance instructor Johnny. 
Watching "Grey" dancing with "Johnny" while drenched in buckets of blood from the goriest scene in Reservoir Dogs
isn’t exactly entertaining, nor is it precisely funny or precisely
distressing. It’s something else entirely—a reenactment of the way
memory works that feels intuitively reasonable even as we don’t quite
know what to do with it emotionally or intellectually. In foregrounding
content like this via an original series, Franco is taking a significant
risk and placing significant faith in an audience base that, if we’re
honest, has never shown him much patience or grace. But it’s a risk
that’s entirely of our time, and perhaps more relevant to how we live
today—or might wish to live—than the despairing irony we were all
steeped in throughout the nineties. In other words, how about we just leave
Jimmy alone for a moment and see where he’s going with all this? We
might just find that, however
self-aggrandizing we sometimes assume Franco to be, this latest project
is much more about us than it is about him.

Seth Abramson is the author of three collections of poetry, most recently Thievery (University of Akron Press, 2013). He has published work in numerous magazines and anthologies, including Best New Poets, American Poetry Review, Boston Review, New American Writing, Colorado Review, Denver Quarterly, and The Southern Review.
A graduate of Dartmouth College, Harvard Law School, and the Iowa
Writers’ Workshop, he was a public defender from 2001 to 2007 and is
presently a doctoral candidate in English Literature at University of
Wisconsin-Madison. He runs a contemporary poetry review series for
The Huffington Post and has covered graduate creative writing programs for Poets & Writers magazine since 2008.

VIDEO ESSAY: ON THE Q.T., CHAPTER 4: KILL BILL: The Female Archetype vs. The Goddess

VIDEO ESSAY: ON THE Q.T., CHAPTER 4: KILL BILL: The Female Archetype vs. The Goddess

Volume 1:

Withhold information, then release it. Set up expectations, then subvert them. Tease, then gratify. This is how you construct an epic. This is how Quentin Tarantino, block by block, builds up Kill Bill. It's disorienting at first. The story starts in medias res, and you have to stop and ask yourself, "Who is this woman? How did she get here?" Then you wait a long time for any real answers. But that's Tarantino's game. That's how he draws audiences into his vision, makes us crave more detail, makes us really feel the size of the story. He wields information like the Bride swings her Hanzo sword: aggressively but precisely, every expository word dropped just where it needs to be. Because as Tarantino is well aware, few moviegoing phenomena are as pleasure-inducing, as viscerally satisfying, as the one we call a surprise. Confusion, then clarity. That two-step process is the key to Kill Bill's thrills.

The most obvious technique by which Tarantino sets and springs these traps is also the one most closely identified with his name: nonlinear narrative. Reservoir Dogs, Jackie Brown, and Pulp Fiction each employed those loops and curlicues from present to past and back again to an extent, but here it's magnified. Volume 1 alone jumps with wild abandon across a span of four and a half years, and even travels back decades for "The Origin of O-Ren." So we get a series of revenge narratives—O-Ren's, the rape-revenge tale of Buck and the Bride, the vengeance she extracts from Vernita Green—nested inside one another like Matryoshka dolls, illustrating Hattori Hanzo's adage that "revenge is never a straight line. It's a forest." The Bride's lost there, and so are we, wandering from one intertwining cycle of violence to another, trying to pick up clues and context as we go along.

Let's zero in on that fight with Vernita, the suburban homemaker. First and most obviously, it's a fight. It's audience-sating spectacle. But it also undercuts expectations by ending abruptly just after Vernita suggests that "we have ourselves a knife fight." It throws us off balance. Then it uses Vernita's daughter to suggest that although this particular fight may be over, the Bride's vendetta is starting a wildfire. Finally, it flashes two unexplained details across the screen: the name "O-Ren Ishii," scrawled in pen but crossed out, and the words "Pussy Wagon" emblazoned on the back of our heroine's flamboyant yellow truck. Their respective meanings are as yet unknown to us, but they imply a recent, bloody past. This, all of this, is what critic Jim Emerson describes as the movie "teach[ing] you how to watch it." In this short vignette, we learn that although Kill Bill may be action-packed, its action will be morally and structurally complicated. And we learn that, as the saga grows more and more textured by detail, we won't necessarily understand how all those details fit together. Explanations lie buried in the Bride's past, as well as in her future.

Another device Tarantino uses to tease us while easing us into each new portion of Kill Bill is perhaps his most traditional: the title card. Both movies are punctuated by them, demarcating narrative borders with their suitably oblique chapter headings. "The Blood-Splattered Bride," for example, or my personal favorite, "The Man from Okinawa." So suggestive, so tantalizing, telling us just enough about Hattori Hanzo without telling us anything at all. It reminds me of Tarantino's own short "The Man from Hollywood," or one of his major inspirations, Leone's "Man with No Name." Or farther afield, the film Vivre sa vie by Tarantino's idol, Jean-Luc Godard, which employs similar intertitles but to more overtly Brechtian ends. The phrase "The Man from Okinawa" is so taciturn that it sets a stage without spoiling any of Sonny Chiba's surprise, revealing that he isn't just a man—he's the man.

This strategy pays off heavily when we actually meet Hattori Hanzo. Although he's posing as a buffoonish sushi chef (like the Bride, who's posing as a clueless tourist), that title card has primed us to see Hanzo as a crucial, enigmatic figure. And sure enough, their mutual ruse wraps up the second she starts speaking fluent Japanese. No matter how thoroughly they change their appearance or lifestyle, every one of Kill Bill's warriors remains a function of their messy, blood-soaked past, a past now embodied by the resurrected Bride. So for the viewer, the story becomes a daisy chain of revelation and revenge; a 4-hour epistemic quest tackling questions like "who?" and "why?": Who was this person in a past life? Why did they hurt the Bride? How, in the end, will she kill them?

As each of these mysteries is stripped away, we get closer and closer to the absolute truth, which lies deep inside the Bride's relationship with Bill.

Volume 2:

The climax of Kill Bill Volume 1, "The Showdown at the House of Blue Leaves," is as gargantuan as melees get. Dozens of bodies lie dismembered; O-Ren Ishii lies dead. It's all so huge, so satisfying, that even if Volume 2 were wall-to-wall carnage, there'd be no hope of topping it. So instead of trying to one-up all this swashbuckling and spilled blood, Tarantino delivers a pay-off that goes beyond action. He doesn't go bigger; he goes deeper, down into the relationship that prompted all this grisly revenge in the first place. Because the longer secrets go untold, the more potential energy they gather. For two hours now, we've been wondering: Who are these people, really? What's the Bride's real name? What does Bill look like? Our sustained curiosity supplies Volume 2 with its power.

Normally, seeing an actor's face is no big deal. But the pains that Tarantino takes to shoot around David Carradine in Volume 1 give his performance as Bill a halo, an aura of mystery. They turn him into what film sound theorist Michel Chion describes as an "acousmêtre": a being who derives power from being heard but not seen. And they root him in the tradition of other such masterminds: Bond archnemesis Blofeld, Inspector Gadget's Dr. Claw, and Charlie from Charlie's Angels. So we're forced to judge Bill from Carradine's soft, silken drawl alone—until, that is, he's introduced in the flesh through a visual nod to John Ford's The Searchers. Now, seeing the history etched into Carradine's weather-beaten face, we know we're getting close to the heart of the story; we can sense our proximity to Kill Bill's real, deep truth. After being hidden for so long, that face has an impact.

Contrast this with our introduction to Tommy Plympton, the Bride's fiancé. No fanfare, no impact, he's just there, played by makeup artist Christopher Allen Nelson in one of the saga's least stylized, least memorable performances. He has a few lines, but the only one that really stands out is "I guess I just believe in living dangerously" because it's so thick with unknowing irony. While alive, he's only defined through his relationship to the Bride, and after his death she doesn't mourn him. His only real significance is that he's so absolutely normal. He's never killed anyone and has no connection to the Bride's past. This alone, this lack of mythical back story, makes Tommy the ideal husband for the Bride and father to her child. He's her ticket to a stable, conventional life, the same kind pursued by Vernita Green, the same kind derided by Bill. Onscreen, he's a cipher. But symbolically, he's the opposite of Bill and a representation of this hypothetical future.

But no matter how fast and far you run, the past will always catch up with you. This is the moral of Kill Bill, the thematic basis for its labyrinthine chronology. Every act of violence, we learn, has a cause somewhere in the past and an effect somewhere in the future. Nothing is isolated. By killing Vernita, O-Ren, Buck, Elle, and Bill, the Bride thinks she can tie up all of her loose ends. But she never anticipates the loosest end of all: her daughter. B.B. is Volume 2's last-act bombshell, and her presence turns the Bride's last, titular objective into a complex, emotionally fraught showdown. If her grudge against Bill was about hate, no matter how intense, it would be much easier to deal with, but here Tarantino pulls a heartbreaking reversal: it's actually about love. It's about the Bride's moral obligation to kill the love of her life for the sake of her daughter. She has to sever all ties, cut herself and her daughter free, because that's the cost of a terminally impossible relationship.

Now all questions have been resolved. All these layers of mystery and secrecy have culminated in the Bride's single, poignant point: "She deserved to be born with a clean slate." That one desire, to bring B.B. into a world away from Bill, triggered all this plotting and bloodshed. This is the real pay-off Tarantino gives us, bubbling up from beneath the sheen of "cool," of fight choreography and stylization and homage. This is the real catharsis of Kill Bill. I don't often think of Tarantino's movies as being especially wise or profound, but I do think he gets relationships. Whether we're talking about Mr. White and Mr. Orange, Max Cherry and Jackie Brown, or Bill and the Bride, I think he understands how we invest ourselves in the people who are worst for us. The people who will hurt us. The people, metaphorically or otherwise, we may someday have to kill.

Nelson Carvajal is an independent digital filmmaker, writer and content creator based out of Chicago, Illinois. His digital short films usually contain appropriated content and have screened at such venues as the London Underground Film Festival. Carvajal runs a blog called FREE CINEMA NOW which boasts the tagline: "Liberating Independent Film And Video From A Prehistoric Value System."
You can follow Nelson on Twitter here.

Andreas Stoehr was born inside the Arctic Circle, has a BA in Cinema and Media Studies, and has written about film somewhere or other (especially on Pussy Goes Grrr and Twitter) since 2008. Passions include comics, dessert, and Marlene Dietrich.