Sunday, July 18, 2004

Lady Snowblood Kills Bill 

First, a preface... I've only seen the first Kill Bill movie, and I think I'd like to see it again (it is hard to feel 100% comfortable watching a movie like that with your Mom, even if isn't offended..heh). Still, I think that it is safe to say that I was surprised by the extent that Kill Bill Vol. 1 was based on Snowblood, and I have to say I enjoyed Snowblood more as a movie. I'll try not to get into too many big spoilers, especially for Snowblood. No Promises on Kill Bill...
I had heard that the set for the snow battle at the end of Kill Bill was a direct copy of one in Lady Snowblood, but it is much more than that. Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not out to crucify Tarantino. He's generally pretty clear on influences, and a lot of his mashes of various things are very fun. Still, I think it is safe to say that the movie would not exist in any measure the way that it does without Lady Snowblood. Everyone should go out and see this movie (Animeigo has it on DVD) and see what the fuss is about. :)
I think part of my issue with Kill Bill is that it seems so stylized that you can't help be removed from the characters and situation a bit. For me, I think my favorite Tarantino movie is Jackie Brown. That is a movie with a lot of influences and style, but it has a pretty strong emotional core, and  most of the things in the movie make sense as part of the setting. Interestingly enough, the more I think of Snowblood, the more that I think that it is exactly in that vein itself. It has a pop art sensibility and seems to have hommages to things that came before it (I'll have to read up more on this, since I haven't seen a ton of very old Japanese swordplay films). Perhaps that explains why Kill Bill seems so out there, if it is a pop art hommage to a pop art hommage... :)
It is a bit hard to talk about Snowblood without giving elements away, since it jumps back and forth through time, but here's a couple of items. The story is broken into chapters, which are named on screen. Interestingly enough, you find out why this is later on. In flashbacks to the 4 villians' crimes, it does a freeze frame on each one with their full name shown on screen. There are gushers of blood, almost always shown on white (there's a reason for white).
As an example of a possible hommage... She has her sword hidden in one of those umbrella/camisole that were in old Japan. There was a battle scene where she hold the sword "upsidedown", aka the tip of the blade toward the ground. I was thinking in my head at the time "Between her and Zatoichi, never fight someone who holds a sword like that". But then when I was in bed, it suddenly struck me. Zatoichi concealed his sword in a walking cane. There's even a scene with her gambling (for a particular reason), which Zatoichi did a lot. I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure that is where those scenes are coing from... Who knows what other things I might be missing.
The actress Meiko Kaji does a great job, and I like her take on the revenge character versus the unnamed one by Uma Thurman. Uma's character feels more like a caged animal feel. In comparison, Snowblood is ice cold, like the name suggests. But not in a dead sense, in the sense of fire simmering right below the surface. A couple of characters (like the head gambler) don't mess with her, and there's good reason why. She has this look in her eyes...  Also some of the things she does is more disturbing because of the emotional core to the film, and you also get a sense of exactly why she is the way she is because of scenes from her childhood...
There's all kinds of other touches in it as well. I was just seeing a review and it pointed out the death of one character between two flags, which is appropriate since the influence of the West on old Japan is very aparant in this movie, and probably a comment on the times the movie was made (mid 70s).
I don't want to say too much more, but this movie comes highly recommended. See it if you can..

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours? Weblog Commenting by HaloScan.com