Kill Bill: Vol. 1 is a martial arts movie, a Samurai movie. Its music and style also pay homage to (or shamelessly rip off) Sergio Leone’s great Spaghetti Westerns. Kill Bill is also, we are told from the very beginning, the fourth opus by director Quentin Tarantino.
Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction is a truly great film. Jackie Brown is likeable and entertaining but too damn long. I’ll reserve judgment on Reservoir Dogs, since I have only seen it once, years ago, and I just can’t force myself to watch it again. But if I did watch it again, I would probably think it is a good film, just not an enjoyable one.
Kill Bill is, from a purely technical point of view, a remarkable achievement. But I do not recommend it to anyone but fanatical film buffs. I saw this film the day it opened in October, but I am only now getting around to reviewing it. That fact alone, I think, could stand as a review.
Kill Bill is a simple revenge story told in the complex, non-linear Tarantino style. The main character, “The Bride,” played by the very beautiful, blue-eyed blonde Uma Thurman, was a member of group of freelance killers called the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad. Now that alone suffices to make her an unsympathetic character in my book, but she is the heroine of this movie.
She decides to quit the squad and get married. But the squad leader, Bill, wants her dead, so the killers descend on the small wedding chapel in El Paso and murder everyone inside. But “The Bride”—who was quite pregnant at the time—survives.
After four years in a coma, she wakes up and decides to get her revenge. In Vol. 1, we see her kill two squad members, a Negress played by Vivica Fox and an Oriental woman played by Lucy Liu. In Vol. 2, presumably, she will go after the white members of the squad, played by Darryl Hanna and Michael Madsen, as well as Bill himself, played by David Carradine.
Some of the greatest dramas of all time are revenge stories, and there are scenes in Kill Bill that are genuinely powerful and moving. But just when you find yourself caught up in the film, just when you are starting to take it seriously, Tarantino douses your enthusiasm with a bucket of cold irony.
By “irony,” I do not mean the literary trope whereby one intends the opposite of what one literally says. Nor do I mean the perverse “law” of human action by which one brings about the opposite of what intends.
Instead, by “irony” I mean a refusal to take serious things seriously, specifically a refusal of respect or allegiance to ideals, a refusal of their demand that we must elevate and transform our lives in their image, or even sacrifice our lives for their greater glory and continued sway.
By “irony,” I mean the cynical pretense of having seen through the emptiness and vanity of all ideals.
Now, ironic detachment from small and silly things is healthy. But ironic detachment from great and serious things is a sign of decadence, because a healthy soul and a healthy society need ideals. Ideals are the only things that raise the human soul above the brute animality of our carnal desires.
The desires for food, security, sexual gratification, and continued existence do not set us apart from the animals. What sets us apart is our ability to give these things up for something higher. The desire to conform to a social hierarchy to ensure the satisfaction of our desires does not set us apart from wolves, apes, or even insects like ants and bees. What sets us apart is the ability to rebel in the name of ideals like liberty and justice.
Hegel saw the duel to the death over honor as man’s passage from pre-history to history, from animal-like to human existence. The man who is willing to die for honor conquers his fear of death, which maintains his animal existence, to demand the proper recognition of his sense of honor, which is his idea of himself. There are other ideals besides personal honor, but it was probably the first ideal men were willing to die for. A beautiful symbol of the cult of honor is the Samurai sword.
The Samurai sword plays a prominent role in both Pulp Fiction and Kill Bill. In Pulp Fiction, Bruce Willis’s character, the boxer Butch, is a small time crook. He accepts money from a gangster to throw a fight, leaks that he is going to throw the match and watches the odds of his winning plummet, then bets the payoff on himself, beats the other boxer to death, collects the loot, and is about to leave town . . . when he realizes that his father’s watch, which has deep sentimental value, has been left behind.
He faces a moment of decision. He can leave without the watch and enjoy his loot. Or he can risk his life to go back for the watch. He chooses to go back. It is a matter of honor, and he is willing to risk his life for that. He shows that he is not just a clever animal, but a human being.
Then Butch and the gangster who is pursuing him fall into the hands of Zed and Maynard, a pair of homosexual sadists. Butch escapes. But he has another moment of decision. He can get away but abandon the gangster to rape and torture and probable death. Or he can go back and risk his life again to help the poor bastard. He chooses to go back. It is a matter of honor. Before he returns, however, he chooses his weapon. He rejects a baseball bat and a chainsaw and chooses a Samurai sword. The perfect instrument for a human being, a being who is willing to risk his life over matters of honor.
I love Pulp Fiction, because the movie deals with the power of ideals like personal honor to raise us out of the cultural and spiritual hell created by cynicism and greed. I hate Kill Bill because it takes the Samurai duel to the death over honor and makes a mockery of it.
Irony is the dominant mode of American high- and middlebrow culture today because of our infestation with Jews. Jews are natural ironists because they are wandering parasites that inhabit their host countries but never become a part of them. They maintain their distinctness by sneering at everything their hosts take seriously. And now that they control America’s mass media, they have the power to make us sneer too.
The result is predictable: detached from ideals, Americans and their culture—never too idealistic to begin with—have become ever more debased and enslaved to desires so low that they cannot even be called brutish. Brutes, after all, have natural, healthy desires which are limited and relatively easy to satisfy. There’s not a lot of money to be made in that. (Although now that most of our food is thoroughly adulterated, people are willing to pay more for food that contains fewer ingredients.)
No, the real growth market is in artificial and unnatural tastes.
Now, some of these tastes are admirable. Indeed, they are the very essence of high culture. Sonnets, sculptures, and symphonies do not grow on trees. They are beautiful and, from the perspective of base utilitarianism, utterly useless. From a spiritual point of view, however, they are very useful, because learning to appreciate them elevates and deepens us. But appreciating high culture requires educated and refined tastes, and the higher the levels of education and refinement required, the fewer the people who can attain them.
If you are interested in making money, that is very bad. Since more people have bad taste than good, bad taste is where the money is. And the only things that stand in the way of the endless and profitable creation artificial desires for the tasteless, tacky, and base are high ideals, upright morals, and good taste, i.e., convictions that there are certain acts and certain pleasures that are beneath us. Once these are destroyed, there is nothing beneath us, no bottom, no limit on how low we can go, no end to the empty, trivial, and degrading things we are willing to do and see and consume.
Want a universal cultural solvent? Combine cynical ironism and capitalist greed. To accelerate the dissolution, spike with Jewish malice.
Quentin Tarantino is not a Jew. But he is the product of a thoroughly Jewed, decadent, cynical popular culture. His education seems to have consisted entirely of television and movies, like a lot of recent filmmakers, such as De Palma, Lucas, and Spielberg. All of them are talented technicians, but their personalities and tastes are shockingly immature, which is exactly what you would expect of people raised on Hollywood movies and television.
From a racial point of view, Tarantino is a disaster. He thinks Negroes quite clever. (If only they were as clever as the lines he feeds them.) He may be partly non-white, but he is probably just one of those whites so corrupted by anti-white propaganda that he has “ennobled” himself by inventing a Cherokee ancestor. If you can’t overlook such things, then there is no point in seeing his movies at all.
The fact that Pulp Fiction is such a good film may be just a stunning, million-monkeys-banging-on-typewriters-producing-Othello kind of accident, but I think it is a sign of the power of genius to transcend bad education and cultural decadence. Jackie Brown also seemed, in its rambling and unfocused way, to straining for something higher. But with Kill Bill, the culture seems, at last, to have overwhelmed Tarantino.
One can transcend one’s cultural context through sheer genius, but to maintain that kind of transcendence one needs an alternative worldview, a critical perspective, a foundation to stand upon, and Tarantino clearly lacks that. A drowning man may break surface once or twice out of sheer self-exertion. But if he does not find something to cling to, the waters will swallow him in the end.