“Kill Bill” as a Feminist Statement

Topics: Kill Bill, Film theory, Feminist theory Pages: 7 (2821 words) Published: August 12, 2008
Feminism , in general terms, is a movement for women’s empowerment. It comprises a wide range of social, cultural and political movements and is concerned with gender inequalities and equal rights for women. Feminist movement has generated feminist theory which puts feminist ideas into theoretical background. It aims at understanding the nature of inequality and focuses on gender politics , power relations and sexuality. It explores a broad scope of themes such as discrimination, stereotyping, objectification, especially sexual one, oppression and patriarchy. Feminist literary criticism derived from feminist theory and it deals with traditions and conventions of patriarchy, a social system in which , from the feminist point of view , men hold all the power. The dominance and superiority of men over women which result from this social construct exist in literary, historical and cultural contexts. Feminist criticism studies texts and considers the approaches to women’s portrayal and position in the text. From this particular point of view , a feminist text, a work of literature or a film , needs to posses certain features and stress particular issues such as encouragement of female empowerment and abandonment of the stereotypical way of portraying a woman, it should challenge gender role model and a patriarchal system of society. In 2003, an American film director Quentin Tarantino(“Pulp Fiction”, “Reservoir Dogs”)directed his fourth film ”Kill Bill”, which was released in two installments, “Kill Bill vol.1”in 2003, “Kill Bill vol.2” in 2004. During the press conference before the premiere of “Kill Bill vol.1”in August 2003, Quentin Tarantino was asked if he considered his film “a feminist statetement” since it was dominated by strong women. He answered ”Erm, I would probably use the word ‘girl power’(www.kamera.co.uk) which has generated a great deal of heated debate among feminists. The structure of “Kill Bill” is based on the structure of a novel. It is divided into two volumes, with five chapters each. It tells the story of The Bride aka Black Mamba aka Beatrix Kiddo, who takes revenge on Bill, her former lover and master at the art of assassination., and also on his subordinates , the Deadly Viper Assassination Squad (D.iV.A.S) for trying to murder her and her unborn baby during her wedding rehearsal (volume 1, chapter 2). They kill everybody present in the church and The Bride is the last one to be assassinated. Before she manages to tell Bill he is the baby’s father, he shoots her in her head. However, The Bride survives and falls into coma of which she comes out after four years. She finds out that she had lost her baby and is determined to take revenge on the assassins who led her to that point. In order to analyse the film from the feminist point of view, it is necessary to mention the term of “the male gaze”, introduced by feminist film theory. The term “the gaze/ look” generally refers both to the way all audience views the people presented in different forms of visual culture and to the gaze of those appearing in visual texts . Feminist film criticism theory has pointed to “ the male gaze” predominantly present in Hollywood cinema. Laura Mulvey, a British film theorist and maker, in her essay “Visual Pleasure And Narrative Cinema” argues that a cinema provides a spectator with different pleasures, like scopophilia, ( 587) which is a pleasure from looking and identification with the male actor appearing in a visual medium, however, she believes it is only true for a male spectator . “The male gaze” forces the audience to perceive the action and characters from the male perspective , which sexually objectifies women and exhibit unequal power relationship. She points out that “In a world of sexual imbalance, pleasure in looking has been split between active/ male and passive/ female.”( Mulvey 589) In this regard,...

Bibliography: Mulvey, Laura. “Visual Pleasure and Narrative Cinema.” Literary Theory : An Anthology. Julie Rivkin and Michael Ryan. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 1998. 585-595.
“Kill Bill vol.1 . Writ. and dir. Quentin Tarantino, prod. Lawrence Bender. DVD-5.Miramax, 2003
“Kill Bill vol.2 . Writ. and dir. Quentin Tarantino, prod. Lawrence Bender. DVD-5.Miramax, 2003
Anne Babeau Gardiner. ”Feminist Literary Criticism: From Anti-Patriarchy to the Celebration of Decadence “. First PrinciplesWeb journal , April 2008

A Basic Glossary of Film Terms. Adapted from:Hayward, S. Key Concepts in Cinema Studies (London: Routledge, 1996), Monaco, J. How to Read a Film (Oxford University Press, 1981)
Ben Walters. ”Kill Bill Press Conference.” kamera.co.uk
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