Thursday, 20 October 2011

How does Quentin Tarantino utilise conventions of the thriller genre in Kill Bill Vol 1

Director: Quentin Tarantino
Kill Bill Volume 1 (2003) Official Trailer

Opening Scene Of Volume 1

Quentin Tarantino utilises many types of generic thriller conventions in his film Kill Bill volume 1, An aspect, in which Tarantino utilises aspects of the thriller, is the way in which he uses light.  The scene opens with a black screen and the diegetic sound of the bride’s heavy breathing; and the sound bridge - these are the first signifiers that the film is within the thriller genre. We then see a close up shot of the bride in black and white, noir and chiaroscuro lighting; this can be used to create confusion amongst the audience or can indicate a flashback in a film. In Kill Bill, it is used in order to tribute to old thriller films such as ‘The Third Man’ which is also in black and white. The bride is shown from a high angle shot; this is to signify her vulnerability and weakness. She also has blood on her face – this indicates violence and crime.

The diegetic sound of the brides’ heavy breathing, and noises continue- this connotes that the bride is innocent. In the background we can hear the diegetic sound of footsteps, which are gradually getting louder; this is a generic thriller convention that creates suspense and tension amongst the audience as they are unaware of who is coming. The camera then cuts to a low angle tracking shot of a man’s’ feet walking. He is wearing boots with a Cuban heel; this suggests he is wealthy, as these types of shoes are expensive.

The use of diegetic sound within the opening of Kill Bill Volume 1 connotes the aspects of the character – we can tell the man within the tracking shot is the villain. Diegetic sound is also heightens the mood, and it also adds to the sense of drama within the opening. Diegetic sound also makes film realistic, and therefore we can sympathise with the character and the tension and fear she is feeling, and the footsteps she can hear. Tarantino is also ensuring that he is building up tension and suspense within the audience, and makes them wonder what is going to happen and who the man is.
The camera then cuts back to a high angle shot of the bride’s face;  we then hear diegetic sound of the door closing and we hear a man’s voice say ‘Do you find me sadistic?’ this indicates immediately that he is someone who Is sadistic, and enjoys blood and horror. It also connotes that he inflicted these injuries on her. We then hear the diegetic sound of the man walking towards the bride, and wiping her face, with a silky handkerchief, with the name bill embroidered into the corner. Immediately the audience are aware that the man wiping the blood off her face is Bill.  The blood and the silk handkerchief contrast, as the blood represents; violence, corruption and brutality whilst silk represents, soft nature, and delicacy. The bride’s facial expressions communicate to the audience that she is very uncomfortable being near Bill, and flinches when he touches her, even if it is through the handkerchief. This shot tells us a lot about Bill; he is wearing a bracelet; that may be symbolic, for example, he may be incorporated with a gang- which would imply he was a dangerous man.

 This shot, again shows the vulnerability of the bride, but also the importance of her character, and the power and importance Bill has within the film. It also shows that he has a high status within the film.  Quentin Tarantino has also used generic conventions by using enigma within the opening scene – the enigma is that Bills face is never seen, and the contents of the briefcase in the movie are never revealed to the audience.


  1. You need to explain why you have posted the trailer onto your blog. You also need to identify aspects of the trailer that suggest that this film has aspects of the thriller genre. The examiners would also expect that the trailer indicates this is primarily an action film.

  2. Your first case study indicates a mainly proficient understanding of the connotations of technical elements of mise-en-scene and genre.