Thursday, June 02, 2011

Kill Bill and Miltonic Allusion: Lady Snowblood

Tarantino steals lots of stuff, sure, but in a good way. He takes from the past in order to write the future -- and Kill Bill is his bid for the future.


This clips has several other things mixed in as well, and the clips chosen are not always the best, but the Lady Snowblood ones are going to have to do. It is at 1:22, 2:22, and 5:21.

Lady Snowblood may be THE major influence on Kill Bill. The parallels are LOADS, some small and questionable, others FOR SURE. Here is a list

-- Female with a samurai sword hunting down several people for revenge one by one
-- she cuts someone's arm off
-- music
-- divided into chapters
-- the story is not told chronologically
-- the camera freezes at each bad guy, and they are labeled on screen with a name.
-- there is a hand drawn section
-- 4 figures, those upon whom she will take her revenge, loom in the exact same camera shot
-- a woman is having sex with a guy and kills him with a Samurai sword
-- there is a training sequence with an old man and a girl.
-- one guy begs for mercy because he has a daughter
-- she tells one of her victims "we have a little business to take care of" -- Thurman says "you and I have unfinished business."
-- there is a fight with her and the sword vs a bunch of guys and wire-fu leaps in order to get to her female prey.
-- the big showdown is at a party
-- she dies in the snow (sort of -- there is an epilogue where she gets up again, but it is clearly made to justify a sequel)

Some have gone as far as claim that Kill Bill is a remake of Lady Snowblood. This is going to far, but there are a lot of links.

Lady Snowblood is about a woman whose husband and son were killed and she was raped by three men. She gets revenge on one of them, but is sent to jail. In jail she has sex with everyone she can to get pregnant -- because her child will need to finish her revenge. That child grows up to be Lady Snowblood. She meets each villain and dispatches them but the first one has a daughter, and after she kills the last and is badly wounded in the process the daughter comes running up to her in the snow and stabs her. She dies in the snow but in an epilogue wakes up again because somebody smelled sequel.

Obviously Uma Thurman is Lady Snowblood in this equation. That is how we are to read the allusion. The parallels are numerous. This is Tarantino doing his version of Lady Snowblood. All the Kung Fu movies have this Japanese Chinese rivalry, and by aligning Thurman so heavily at the House of the Blue Leaves with both Bruce Lee and Lady Snowblood he is uniting Chinese and Japanese before taking both back to the American West for volume 2. Hence Lucy Liu's half-Chinese half Japanese American Army brat thing. It's like a metaphor for the whole movie.

But there is another way to look at the Lady Snowblood connection and that is to figure Lucy Liu as Snowblood. It is easy to forget but Lucy Liu's parents were killed and she took her revenge killing one guy in a bed while having sex with him. Lady Snowblood's parents were killed and her mother killed a guy in a bed while having sex with him. Also there is a flurry of Lady Snowblood references just as we begin the Origin of O-Ren as we see her face -- We see the four figures looming down at Thurman in a shot taken from Lady Snowblood, we the freeze frame on Liu's face and a label just as in Lady Snowblood, we transition to a hand drawn section just as Lady Snowblood does, and we get a chapter title just as in Lady Snowblood. And it is Liu in the traditional Japanese garb who will die in the snow as Lady Snowblood does (sort of), and who is killed by a woman she probably forgot all about, just as Lady Snowblood does.

In that second reading then the whole ramp at the House of the Blue Leaves, the battle with the crazy 88s and GoGo and more crazy 88s, all to get to Liu was really Tarantino fighting his way through all the movies that have influenced his project, taking each down quickly, before getting to the big one: Lady Snowblood. It is worth noting here the way Liu is killed -- scalped with a Samurai Sword. Again you get the Chinese-Japanese-America pattern -- Thurman, as the Avatar for Chinese Bruce Lee, takes down Japanese Lady Snowblood with a big American fuck you -- a scalping.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Youtube pulled the video on copyright policy...oh well >:/