There are certain people in the entertainment industry who, when promoting a new piece of work, face the same question, over and over again, about revisiting a past glory. Jason Bateman is always asked about Arrested Development, Keanu Reeves is always asked about Bill And Ted, and Quentin Tarantino is always asked about Kill Bill 3. It is, of course, a compliment, as it indicates that these projects are held in high esteem by general audiences. However, it is always the case that the answers to these questions vary over time.
While promoting his latest film, The Hateful Eight, Academy Award winner Quentin Tarantino gave an hour-long interview to What The Flick?! With Ben Wankiewicz who, inevitably, posed the Kill Bill 3 question (around the 57 minute mark). Tarantino’s response was interesting when compared with previous answers to the same question, as it sounds as though the idea of a sequel is now solidifying in the filmmaker’s mind.
“There definitely is a possibility. [I] stop short of saying a ‘probability’. But, there could be. It could be – for one reason in particular… I put the character of Beatrix Kiddo through a lot, and so I wanted her to have this much time for peace. I wanted her to have time with her daughter, and not have to be on the genre machine. She could actually enjoy her life for a while. The whole idea was everyone would be as old as they are.”
Kill Bill: Vol 1 and Vol 2 – written and directed by Quentin Tarantino – were essentially revenge thrillers which saw a pregnant Beatrix Kiddo (Uma Thurman) left for dead at her wedding, after an attack by the team of assassins she once worked for. Waking from a coma after four years, she finds that her child is gone, and that she has been brutalized. She then embarks on an epic journey of vengeance, working her way up to her former employer – the sinister Bill (David Carradine).
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Tarantino’s assertion that a third film would take place in the present day, allowing for each character to be “as old as they are” is an interesting one, given that the world of Kill Bill is a fantasy – as reiterated by the filmmaker himself.
“…[it] really went beyond the Pulp Fiction stuff to really create this world that really doesn’t exist – where they actually have samurai [sword] holders on airplanes…”
This fantastical construct lends itself to the debate about the strength of feminist themes in the films. On release, Kill Bill was hailed as Tarantino’s ‘feminist statement’ – and in many respects, this is quite right. Taking the idea of this being an ‘unreal’ world, we have the iconic Beatrix Kiddo, who is as complex a female film character as you might find – something that rarely exists in the real world. She is decisive, resourceful and determined – all the things we have come to expect from our male cinematic heroes – without detracting from her emotional depth or vulnerability. In addition, she leads a story that is filled with other powerful female characters, and which depicts most of its men as secondary and disposable.
The issue is that, regardless of her capable nature, the film is still about how this woman is shaped by men. Yes, she is fighting back against it, but her entire character is defined by what men have done to her. It could be argued that this is the nature of its feminist statement – that Kiddo is the embodiment of women in the world, while Bill is the embodiment of patriarchy. That certainly works but, in the final analysis, this is covering no new ground in terms of feminism in film. In fact, you could argue that in terms of Tarantino’s own filmography, Jackie Brown is actually his most feminist film, because that lead character undertakes to define her own destiny, and achieves it entirely outside of the need and desires of the men around her.
If Kill Bill is not Tarantino’s most feminist story, it certainly is his most arresting use of imagery, as the filmmaker agreed in his interview.
“So the thing about [Kill Bill] was… it is probably my most visionary cinematic contribution. It would be nice to go back to a visceral world that’s not about the words anymore.”
His movies are certainly known for their wordiness, and it is possible to discern Tarantino dialogue from any other movie, because it is so distinctive. But, as he says, Kill Bill is a visual tale as much as anything else and it allowed him to indulge a very specific artistic urge that was truly beautiful to look at.
Kill Bill 3 would certainly be a welcome treat in those terms.