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Lady Snowblood and Tarantino's Kill Bill

Tarantino freely appropriates and riffs off of cult cinema classics in his work. The first half of his 2003 film in two parts, Kill Bill Vol. 1, is a story of revenge that refers to (and borrows from) the Japanese revenge classic Lady Snowblood.

Some examples of this follow:

As is common in many martial arts films, both movies feature a sequence showing the protagonist ringed by aggressors, fighting each in rapid succession. The fight scene in Lady Snowblood is more similar to the upstairs fighting scene in Kill Bill, but the overhead shot above ties nicely into my next point:

The climax of each film is in a remarkably similar locale. Each crescendo plays out in a dance hall ringed with an upper balcony and with a similar grid design on the floor.

And of course, both films feature a multitude of severed limbs. (aside: Fitz previously wrote about Tarantino's effective use of not showing the most violent act in Reservoir Dogs, instead relying on the imagination of the viewer to deepen the emotional intensity of the scene. Not showing acts of violence is one of the oldest and most formidable techniches in formative film making. By showing the myriad maimings in Kill Bill, Tarantino allows the viewer to interact on the visual rather than mental level, thereby lessening the impact of the violence.)

I admit that the shots above don't amply demonstrate the deep similarities between the two films. It's difficult to do the comparison justice with stills, and the argument is more compelling when done via video. Any fans of Tarantino or Kill Bill should definitely check out Lady Snowblood. It offers an interesting view into the production of Kill Bill, and is also an interesting film in its own right.

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