A Door Knock Expedites Vengeance in Kill Bill Vol I
“So I suppose it’s a little late for an apology, huh?”
One truth that cannot be denied, is that in a classic Quentin Tarantino film, revenge is always sought-cold, hard, and without mercy. In Kill Bill Vol I, obtaining revenge is what ignites the fire within the main character. “The Bride”, as the audience has come to know her, wants to extract revenge on those who have wronged her. But instead of beginning with her main target, Bill, (the leader of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad), she starts small, trying to prove to herself that she has the right personality and necessary skills to destroy such a powerful man. A mere four years, and nine months later, the Bride continues with her second target.
Part 1: The Fight
A stony-faced bleak expression. This medium shot is what the audience is immediately drawn to when a yellow pickup truck enters the frame. The Bride, (played by Uma Thurman), has a dead look in her eyes, and her wolfish countenance makes it clear that her visit to this suburban home is about business, not pleasure. When the Bride arrives at the house, she gets a firsthand look at the “american dream.” She sees an averaged sized mint green home, in perfect condition, with toys sprawled around the freshly cut green grass and the homeowner’s name sitting proudly above the mailbox. When the Bride emerges from the truck, she walks to the door in an evenly paced, quiet step manner. From this walk alone, the audience is able to gain an insight of her newfound personality. The Bride walks with her shoulders and her body frame in an upright position. In addition, she walks at a calm pace towards the door, almost as if she is in no rush. Psychology describes a person who walks in this fashion as one that has many internal thoughts and is very confident. Furthermore, the quiet steps indicates that the person does not want to intrude.⁴ These descriptions are a perfect match to describe the Bride at this particular moment. Her internal thoughts are reflective of seeing this suburban home. It’s evident as she walks to the door, the Bride is imagining that this lifestyle could have been hers. Additionally, her non-intrusive, quiet steps shows that the Bride does not want to be noticed until she is ready to confront the woman inside the house.
Immediately after the door opens, we are introduced to Vernita Green (played by Vivica Fox). This is the second woman on her hit list, having already avenged someone named O-Ren. Upon laying eyes on Green, the Bride has an implicit flashback to her wedding rehearsal. Implicit flashbacks are triggered entirely by traumatic experiences.³ The events that took place exactly four years ago qualifies as intense trauma and explains why these flashbacks are happening to the Bride as she looks Green dead in the face. (The song briefly playing in the background while the women acknowledge each other is called “Iron Side” by Quincy Jones). After both of the women come out of a state of shock from seeing each other, the Bride makes the first move by punching Green in the face. Attribution theory, which is psychology’s way of explaining a person’s behavior based on their situation, would justify the Bride’s actions. Additionally,when you see someone who is responsible for the situation that you were in, it’s no question to why you would want to instantaneously extract revenge. This explains why the Bride immediately threw a punch when the door opened. For her, this was not a time for apologies and explanations- this was a time for revenge. Without any hesitation between the two women, a full scale fight commences. At first, the fighting between the two women see like a normal fight for survival (both throwing each other into objects in their path in an attempt to severely injure the other), but it’s not until they enter the kitchen that the fight truly heightens.
As the women begin to fight in the kitchen, the Bride’s skills are exposed. As Green grabs a knife, levels of norepinephrine in the angered Bride’s brain being to increase. The higher levels of norepinephrine in the Bride’s brain means that she would essentially become more alert, attentive, and prepared to respond to the situation in a quicker time. It is evident that the Bride experienced this notion when she ran into the kitchen as Green, who is hiding in the corner of the kitchen, tries to catch the Bride off guard by aiming the knife at her. However, because the Bride was being extremely attentive of her surrounding, she quickly picks up the frying pan she spotted from the corner of her eyes and begins to use it as defense. The camera angle during this particular scene switches between an eye-level angle and a low angle to expose just how dramatic the fight between the women gets.The low angle also helps to show how precise their footwork was during the fight. As the fight makes its way back around to the destroyed living room, the Bride loses the frying pan and pulls out her own knife. This is something the Bride could have done from the moment she stepped into the house, but she chose not to. It is almost as if the Bride wanted the fight to become a fair knife to knife fight- she wants to practice. From the way both of the women hold the knife, it is evident that they are both using it as if it were a sword. When Japanese sword fighting, one must make sure that the weapon is extended at a comfortable distance away from their own body and pointed towards the opponent’s body, specifically at their throat or chest. Both the fighters elbows and knees must be bent to ensure quick movement and emotionally wise, the fighter must remain calm, collected, and confident.² Both Vernita Green and the Bride match these descriptions.
The camera angles then switch from an over-the-shoulder shot to a full shot. Within the full shot, the audience is able to see both women while getting a glimpse of outside. As the two women stagger with the knives in their hands in the living room, a bus enters the frame as it pulls up outside of the house. The Bride, now confirming to herself that Green has a child, looks over at the woman wondering if she could now use the girl as an advantage to kill. In this situation, the Bride has the greatest urge to kill while Green had the biggest fear of dying. This could be the moment that the Bride overtakes Vernita Green, getting her revenge. But, as Green sees her daughter step off the bus, she looks at the Bride with a pleading look in her eyes. To both of their surprises, the Bride puts the knife behind her back as the girl walks into the room. This moment reveals another emotional characteristic she has- sympathy (but only for the young girl).⁴ The moment she looks over at the mother, whose eyes are begging the Bride not to murder her in the presence of her child, the Bride develops a sympathetic emotion/connection with her. It seems as if the Bride has a soft spot for the child in this situation.
After Vernita Green sends her daughter to her room, both women head to the kitchen for some coffee and “small talk.” The camera shot is now bird’s eye view. This gives the audience a new perspective of the kitchen and allows them to see the layout, which will become crucial for the events that follow. While the two women talk in the kitchen, it is clear that Green is trying to buy her way out of being the next person the Bride kills. She tries use emotional appeals to get the Bride to feel sorry for her, such as parading her daughters picture in front of the Bride’s face. Her attempts to save herself falls short as the Bride expressionlessly cut her off by explaining that the two of them have “unfinished finished business and not a goddamn thing she has done in the past four years, including getting fucked up, is going to change that”. This leads Green to ask what the Bride has been waiting for all this time- when will the two of them battle it out. This is music to her ears. The Bride wants to fight Green when it is just the two of them-no objects around for them to use as an advantage, no people around to serve as some form of a plea, and no distractions. The Bride is using Vernita Green as practice.
As insults are being thrown around between the two women, Vernita Green pulls out a cereal ironically named “Kaboom”. Inside it, a hidden gun. In an attempt to catch the Bride off guard, Green pulls the trigger in the direction of the Bride, but misses. Instantaneously, the Bride kicks her mug in the direction of Green (as a distraction) while she pulls out her knife and aims it directly at Greens heart, killing her. This is not the way she wanted to kill her (as she wanted to watch Green suffer- they way she had), but as the psychology term repression would explain it, her instant killing was a basic defense mechanism by which feeling and memories are excluded from one conscious awareness in emergency situations.⁵ In the original script, the bullet had hit the coffee mug, prompting the Bride to throw herself under a table where Green fired another shot but missed her again as the bullet targeted the floor. As the Bride is able to regain her strength, she picks up the table and pins Green into the counter. Through the table, she then stabs Green, hitting her in her abdomen and before Green dies, the two have a final conversation about the safety of her daughter. In the final way, (the cut that made it to the actual movie) there was more of an element of surprise, which I preferred. It just shows how quickly how the Bride reacts to surprise situations. After killing Vernita Green, nevertheless, the Bride is met by Green’s daughter and it is here that we are introduced to another one of her characteristics- empathy. ⁴ When she sees the girl standing behind her, her body language reveals a few details about her. For instance, from the way she stood (still facing the wall) and her attempt to hide the bloody knife from the girl’s eyes explains that she express a little bit of remorse for the young child. She knows that what she just witnessed will stay with the girl for the rest of her life. It is almost as if she shares a connections with the girl now. It was not long ago, (in her mind anyways), that she went through the same situation. She does not fully turn around until she puts the knife away so that it is no longer in view in an attempt to problematically get the girls trust when she mutters the words, “when you grow up, if you still feel raw about it, I’ll be waiting.” This just reveals that all the Bride has come to know is revenge . Revenge is her form of emotional release, in essence, revenge is her form of grief.
Although the Bride, did not get the practice she was looking for when she arrived at the house. She was still able to strike another name off of her list. This scene in which she kills Vernita Green did prepare her whether or not she knew it when she left the house. For instance, the Bride always wanted to be the element of surprise, the one that comes “out of nowhere” and extracts her revenge, but Vernita Green tried to take the crown for that title when she tried shooting her. That scene in particular was really what let the Bride know that she could keep moving down her list essentially making her way to Bill. The fight with Bill was most likely not going to be planned on her terms, so seeing how she reacts under intense pressure did help her to prepare for the main fight. Furthermore, after deconstructing this whole scene, it is safe to say that part of the reason the Bride is so ambitious is because of her personality. Pulling all of the aspect that was seen in her from what happened with Vernita Green, it can be concluded that she has Type A Personality. Those with this personality are highly competitive and strive toward their goals with feeling any sense of joy of their accomplishments (the Bride completing two murders without having any sense of happiness). Furthermore, those with Type A are very hostile, easily angered, impatient, and have immediate reactions to stress. The Bride fits all of these descriptions which help to explain why she is so keen on getting revenge on those who have wronged her.
Part 2: The Bride’s Rational **Spoiler Alert**
So why did the Bride attack Vernita Green? Was it because she was just crazy or did she actually have a legitimate reason? From reading “Part 1”, it should made clear that these two women have some kind of unpleasant history. Well, the Bride’s surge for revenge all began four years and nine months ago, on the day of the her wedding rehearsal.
The Bride, or Beatrix Kiddo (which is later revealed to be her real name), was part of an assassination crew named the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad. This squad consisted of five other members, Bill, O-Ren, Vernita Green, Elle Driver, and Budd. Beatrix had joined their squad and was an active member of it until she fell pregnant with no other than Bill’s child. Claiming she wanted a better life for the child, she left the assassination squad and tired to live a normal life. Her “new life” was going well for her as she had created a new fake identity and was even getting married to someone new. However, on the night of her wedding rehearsal, her entire wedding party was wiped out by the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad. As she stood there in her wedding dress, gun to her head, she begged for mercy but to no avail. Bill pulled the trigger, eliminating her, or as he had thought. Right before he had “killed” her however, she told him that she was pregnant with their child. And that was all that she was able to remember.
After being shot, Beatrix remained in a coma for about four years. When she awoke, she immediately wanted revenge for the death of her unborn child. In order to do this, she created her “hit list” which included all of the names of the members that were part of the squad. However, little did she know, her child was actually alive and living with Bill. The first person she extracted her revenge on was O-Ren. After succeeding with eliminating her, she moved on to Vernita Green. This brings us back to “Part 1” of the essay.
As mentioned in the first part, upon arriving at the house, Beatrix noticed all the toys scattered on the lawn, and this was one factor that intensified the rage within her. This was because seeing that one of her attackers has built this seemingly perfect life for herself, while Beatrix has spent the last four years of her life trapped in a coma, created an unsettling feeling within her. Furthermore, now understanding the reason for Beatrix’s anger, her reason for immediately punching Green in the face upon seeing her for the first time in four years, is completely justified. Additional, throughout Part 1, the fighting techniques of the two assassins were revealed. From the way that they fought (especially in the kitchen), it confirms and gives the audience a glimpse of what kind of training and weapons they used when they were part of the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad. (One could also infer that they were highly trained when they were fighting in the kitchen and Green begins to unconsciously speak in Japanese.) Moreover, the audience could also infer that the two fighters were actually friends and partners (and not always enemies) in the assassination squad. We are informed of their code names, the Bride was Black Mamba and Vernita Green was Cobra. The code names also help to show how sophisticated and well planned out every detail in the squad was.They could have also been used to keep the squad strictly professional, to ensure that each member does not know too much information about the other (with the exception of Bill and the Bride of course since the two had a romantic relationship). Throughout Part 1 of the essay, there was a repetitive mention that Beatrix was only at Vernita Green’s house in order to use her as practice. The reason for this is because Beatrix wants to make sure that she can defeat as much people as she possibly can in order to ensure she is ready to face and defeat the sophisticated Bill. In the Bride’s mind, practice leads to perfect, and everything must be perfect, from her form to her technique, before she met Bill again.
After defeating Vernita, Beatrix goes on to kill Budd, and blind Elle (it’s unknown if she dies). Finally, Beatrix has come face to face with the man that she has wanted to this entire time, Bill. Upon seeing him, she is also greeted, to her surprise, by her daughter, B.B. After putting her daughter to sleep, Beatrix ends up killing Bill using the five point palm exploding heart technique that she was taught by Pai Mei (the man that she trained with upon escaping the hospital). She then gets her daughter and the two of them leave in her car. The conclusion of this two part movie, was almost a representation of the opening scene of the first movie. It begins with her, Bill, and an unborn baby and ends with her, Bill, and now a living child. In the beginning, it was Beatrix that was “killed” by Bill and the child taken away from her and now it is Bill that ends up getting killed by Beatrix and the child gets taken away from him. The end of the movie is present in the beginning of the movie in that it all centers around Beatrix’s love and affection for her child.
¹ “Empathy Vs Sympathy.” Psychology Today. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2016.
² “How to Win a Swordfight.” WikiHow. N.p., n.d. Web. 26 Mar. 2016.
³ “Is What You Are Feeling A Flashback?” Psychology Today. N.p., n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2016.
N.p., n.d. Web. 29 Mar. 2016.
⁴ “Quick Study: What Your Walk Says About You.” The Huffington Post. N.p., n.d. Web. 24 Mar. 2016.
⁵ “Sympathetic Responses — Boundless Open Textbook.” Boundless. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 Mar. 2016.