Exploring the Many Genres Present in Quentin Tarantino's 'Kill Bill'
To call "Kill Bill" a genre-bender would be an understatement.
If you take a critical look at films, most of them fit neatly inside a specific genre, like drama, comedy, or horror, or even a couple of complementary genres, known as cross-genres—Dramedy, Horror Comedy, or Weird West. However, if you were to look at Quentin Tarantino's 2003 film Kill Bill: Vol. 1, you'd be hard-pressed to cram that thing inside any kind of genre-specific box. Elements of martial arts films, including bits taken from kung fu and wuxia films, blaxploitation, as well as spaghetti westerns can be easily recognized in the film, but just how many other genres does Tarantino's masterpiece contain? This video from Fandor aims to answer that question. Check it out below:
As a well-known cinephile, Tarantino is famous for his signature hat-tips to other films from a wide array of genres and time periods. A few years ago, video essayist Jacob T. Swinney released a video showcasing many of the director's filmic references, which not only proved that, yes, Tarantino pays homage to many different directors and films, but also takes it a step further and creates near-shot-for-shot remakes of certain scenes.
While many film critics and theorists have explored Tarantino's use of cinematic references in his films, Fandor's video essay may open our eyes to another layer of this: his use of genre references in his films, and Kill Bill: Vol. 1 is perhaps the most unmistakable example. According to Fandor, the film blends elements of samurai epics, blaxploitation, anime, spaghetti westerns, B movies, and serials, just to name a few, which is interesting if you analyze both this and his affinity for referencing films simultaneously.
While a gun standoff scene in Reservoir Dogs may reference a specific scene in Ringo Lam's 1987 Hong Kong crime film City on Fire, it brings to mind the standoff scene in Sergio Leone's 1966 spaghetti western The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. The genre-bend is not as apparent here, however, Kill Bill: Vol. 1 seems to switch genres like they're channels on a TV. Tarantino appears to really take the films he's referencing in Kill Bill to another level by not only replicating the cinematography, aesthetics, and costuming, but also the tropes and other elements of each referenced film's genre.
Perhaps that's why so many hail Kill Bill: Vol. 1 as Tarantino's masterpiece—he manages to do it without calling any attention to the fact that he is doing it. In other words, he's an expert genre-bender and Kill Bill: Vol. 1 is arguably a perfect genre-bending film.
Do you see any other genres present in Kill Bill: Vol. 1? What is your favorite genre-bending film? Let us know down in the comments.