Interview de Q. Tarantino au sujet de Kill Bill vol. 1

Voilà la retranscription d’une interview de Q. Tarantino par un journaliste nippon, au cours de laquelle il revient sur les différents hommages effectués dans Kill Bill vol. 1.

Oui c’est en anglais. Oui c’est long. Oui c’est vieux. Oui c’est génial. Oui il s’agit d’un pur copier-coller dans toute la splendeur de l’art, pris ICI.

J’ai souligné les meilleurs passages, selon moi, sauf oubli.

QUENTIN TARANTINO reveals almost everything that inspired KILL BILL in…The JAPATTACK

By Tomohiro Machiyama


This interview was conducted in Los Angeles on August 28, 2003 during a press junket for KILL BILL: VOLUME ONE held exclusively for the Japanese media. In this one-on-one chat, Quentin Tarantino goes deep into the many influences for KILL BILL; it’s mythology, and even the future for his characters beyond the two-part film. Originally conducted by Tomo Machiyama for Japan’s Eiga Hi-Ho (Movie Treasures) magazine, Japattack is proud to present this interview for the first time anywhere in English transcribed from the original recordings. The usual spoiler warnings apply.


Hi, I’m Tomohiro Machiyama. I usually write only for Japanese Magazines, but I would like you people who cannot read Japanese to read my interview because Mr. Tarantino told me a lot of information that American critics and viewers might never know. The night before this interview, I first spoke with Tarantino at a party after the screening of Kill Bill. Unfortunately, I didn’t bring my tape recorder. We were both totally smashed, but I remember these things he told me.

The bloody killing spree at the climax of KILL BILL is a kind of re-enactment of Shogun Assassin (Kenji Misumi, 1972, Japan *Bigger image). And he also admitted to adding a dash of Ichi the Killer(Takashi Miike, 2001, Japan) in it as well. For the orange sunset sky behind the airplane, he wanted to evoke the look of the opening scenes from Goke, BodySnatcher from Hell (Hajime Sato, 1968, Japan). He ordered the staff to shoot a miniature set of Tokyo like a landscape from the giant monster movieWar of the Gargantuas (Ishiro Honda, 1966, Japan). He even screened a video of Gargantuas to Daryl Hannah because in his mind, Kill Bill is a kind of War of the Blonde Gargantuas. So, I didn’t ask about these things in the next day interview. Are you ready? Here we go.


Tomohiro Machiyama: Can you give me some comments about some of the films referenced in Kill Bill?

Quentin Taranatino: Ok. Cool, cool.

TM: The scene where Go Go Yubari (Chiaki Kuriyama) stabs a guy who approaches her for sex…was this from Battle Royale (Kinji Fukasaku, 2000, Japan)?

QT: I went out to dinner with Kinji Fuaksaku and Kenta (Kinji’s son) and I was going « man, I love this movie! It is just so fantastic! » And I said, « I love the scene where the girls are shooting are shooting each other. » And then Kenta starts laughing. So I ask, « why are you laughing? » He goes, « the author of the original Battle Royale novel would be very happy to hear that you liked that scene. » And I go « why? » And he says, « well, because it’s from Reservoir Dogs! » Even when I was watching it I was thinking « God, these 14 year old girls are shooting each other just like in Reservoir Dogs! » And Kenta said, « he took that from Reservoir Dogs, so he’ll be very proud that you like that! »

TM: I’m wondering why you changed the name of the girl force from Fox Force Five, in Pulp Fiction, to DiVAS in Kill Bill?

QT: Well, the thing is, as similar as they are to each other, they are different. Fox Force Five were crime fighters. They were secret agents. The Deadly Vipers are NOT secret agents! They are killers! But the idea is very, very similar. It’s like the flipside.

TM: The DiVAS look like The Doll Squad(Ted V. Mikels, 1973, USA), right?

QT: Oh yeah, very similar. They definitely have that Doll Squad or Modesty Blaise look to them. Those girls just look cool in their turtle necks. Honey West was an American TV show, and that’s in there as well.

TM: How about The Bride Wore Black(1968, Francois Truffaut, France)?

QT: Here’s the thing. I’ve never actually seen The Bride Wore Black.

TM: Really?

QT: I know of it, but I’ve never seen it. Everyone is like, « oh, this is really similar to The Bride Wore Black. » I’ve heard of the movie. Its based on a Cornell Woolrich novel too, but it’s a movie I’ve never seen. The reason I’ve never seen it is because…I’ve just never been a huge Truffaut, fan. So that’s why I never got around to see it. I’m not rejecting it, I just never saw it. I’m a Goddard fan, not a Truffaut fan. So I know of it, I know all that stuff, but it’s a movie I’ve never seen.

TM: I thought of it because The Bride has that list of names she checks off.

QT: Oh, is that in there too?

TM: How about Hannie Caulder (Burt Kennedy, 1971, USA *Bigger image) ?

QT: Oh yeah. Hannie Caulder is definitely in there. That was definitely of the revenge movies I was thinking about. I had a whole list of revenge movies, especially female ones likeLady Snowblood (Toshiya Fujita, 1973, Japan *Bigger image). But one of them definitely was Hannie Caulder. You know who I love in Hannie Caulder so much is Robert Culp. He is so magnificent in that movie and I actually kind of think there’s a bit of similarity between Sonny Chiba and Uma and Raquel Welch and Robert Culp in Hannie.

TM: How about Dead and Buried (Gary Sherman, 1981, USA)?

QT: Ok, yeah. I’ve seen Dead and Buried. So what’s the connection?

TM: Daryl Hannah disguises herself as a nurse and tries to kill the Bride in a coma with a syringe.

OT: Oh! Yes! Lisa Blount! The girl from An Officer and a Gentleman! Yeah, exactly. Actually, to tell you the truth, there’s another movie that I kind of got that idea a little bit more from. And that’s John Frankenheimer’s Black Sunday (1977, US). There’s a scene where Marthe Keller goes into the hospital and disguises herself as a nurse and she’s going to kill Robert Shaw with a poisoned syringe.

TM: The character of Daryl Hannah is based on They Call Her One Eye (AKA Thriller, Bo Arne Vibenius, 1974,Sweden)?

QT: Oh, definitely! I love Christina Lindberg. And that’s definitely who Daryl Hannah’s character is based on. In the next movie, she’s wearing mostly black. Just like They Call Her One Eye, she’s got some color co-coordinated eye patches. And that is, of all the revenge movies I’ve ever seen, that is definitely the roughest. The roughest revenge movie ever made! There’s never been anything as tough as that movie.

TM: It was supposed to be a p0rno.

QT: Well, it has those insert shots in there. I remember showing Uma the trailer to They Call Her One Eye, and she said, « Quentin, I love that trailer…but I don’t know if I can watch that movie! I’m actually scared to watch it. It looks too tough. » I showed Daryl the movie. I gave her the video tape. She watched it without subtitles, just in Swedish. And she said, « Quentin! You had me watch a p0rno! » I said, « yeah, but a good p0rno! » She’d never had a director give her a p0rno movie to watch as homework!

TM: How about Master Killer (AKA 36 Chambers of Shaolin, Chia-Liang Liu, 1978, Hong Kong)?

QT: I’m a huge fan of Master Killer and of Gordon Liu in particular. He’s fantastic. He doesn’t look any goddamn different today then he did back then. And it’s just so cool to see both him and Sonny Chiba in the same film together. They are every bit the superstars. Living legends. As I am framing shots, I’m thinking « I can’t believe Gordon Liu is in my movie! I can’t believe it. » And to have been so influenced by seventies kung fu films and to have, as far as I’m concerned, my three favorite stars of kung fu from three different countries .. Gordon Liu representing Hong Kong. Sonny Chiba representing Japan. And David Carradin representing America. That’s a triple header. A triple crown. If Bruce Lee was still alive, he’d be in it. If Fu Sheng was still alive, he could be in it too.

TM: So will David Carradine play a flute in the sequel?

QT: Oh yeah! He does! You saw that in the trailer, right? And it’s actually “The Silent Flute ». It’s a flute he made, he carved it out of bamboo. And that is the silent flute from the movie Silent Flute (AKA Circle of Iron, Richard Moore, 1979, US). You’ve got a great thing with David because Bill really is a mix of Asiatic influences and genuine American Western influences.

TM: Not only was he on Kung Fu, but he was also one of The Long Riders(Walter Hill, 1980, USA).

QT: Yeah, and who else are you going to get to do that?

TM: How did you get the rights to use the music cue from Master of the Flying Guillotine (Jimmy Wang Yu, 1975, Hong Kong)?

QT: We bought the rights to it. First, we had to find out what it was (Super 16 by German group Neu!). Once we tracked it down, we went to them and just commissioned it and they gave it to us. That little bit of music is even on the Kill Bill soundtrack album. (imitating music) « Doing! Doing! Doing! »

TM: I can’t remember the title, but there is a Hong Kong movie where Jimmy Wang Yu fights with 100 enemies. The fight in the House of Blue Leaves reminds me of it.

QT: That’s from Chinese Boxer (Jimmy Wang Yu, 1969, Hong Kong *Bigger image). It’s where he’s created the iron fist. He’s turned his fist into iron and they’re burned black. He’s got a surgical mask over his face and he’s got these mittens on his hands and Lo Lieh is the bad guy and he goes into the casino. Well, did you know that this is very historically important movie? That was the first full-on open handed contact movie in Hong Kong. Chinese Boxer is the first movie where the hero didn’t fight with swords. He just fought with his hands. That was the first time that was done. I mean, there are kung fu movies before that. But this kind of like, what we know today as a real kung fu movie. Before that, they were doing wushu, swordplay; and even though they were doing it in a Chinese style, they still had one foot in the Japanese samurai movies. But with Chinese Boxer, they took that foot away. And that fight scene is so fantastic. That’s become one of the staples of the genre: one against a hundred. Well, that was the first one. Wang Yu directed it too. It was so cool because I remember showing Yuen Woo-ping that scene to show him something I wanted to capture and Woo-ping goes, « Hey! That’s my dad! » His father was one of the guys in the movie. You know, when all the guys are circling Wang Yu, he’s the one with the chain. His dad was Simon Yuen, the old guy from Snake in Eagle’s Shadow and Drunken Master. That’s Woo-ping’s father.

TM: How about Takashi Miike’s Fudoh(1996, Japan)?

QT: I haven’t seen Fudoh. I know of Fudoh. I’ve seen the trailer for it. I couldn’t be a bigger fan of Miike, but I’ve never seen Fudoh. I’ve been meaning to see it, but that’s one I haven’t seen yet.

TM: I thought the idea of the Crazy 88s was inspired by the teenage gangs from Fudoh.

QT: I just thought that once O-Ren became the queen of crime in Tokyo, which is kind of a reference to Black Lizard (Kinji Fukasaku, 1968, Japan) because O-Ren runs the city the way Black Lizard did…she wouldn’t have a bunch of bruisers. No! She’d have a bunch of moptops. This isn’t in the movie, because I’d have to stop and tell the audience this but the Crazy 88s are…because O-Ren is half-Chinese and half-Japanese, so is her army. So there’s 44 Chinese people and 44 Japanese people! But that’s part of the mythology I would only go into if I wrote a book. The black suits are from Reservoir Dogs. And the masks are from Kato. I just thought that it looked really cool. Now, while I’m saying that I haven’t seen Fudoh, I’m not saying I haven’t been influenced by Takashi Miike. Personally, my favorite cinema right now is this violent pop cinema coming out of Japan. As far as a group of directors that are my favorites…and there’s a lot of American directors that I really like…my favorite as far as a group is all the directors doing those kinds of movies in Japan. Obviously, I’m talking about Takashi Miike, Takashi Ishii, Sogo Ishii.

TM: How about Teruo Ishii?

QT: Oh, Teruo Ishii is a fantastic director, a great director! I love Teruo Ishii. Also, Kiyoshi Kurosawa. And the other guy…I know him, I’m friends with him, but I keep forgetting his name…the guy who did Shark Skin Man and Peach Hip Girl and Party 7 (Katsuhito Ishii). He actually did some work on Kill Bill. He did the character drawing that starts the anime when you see O-Ren when she was eight and then you see Boss Matsumoto, you know, just those two drawings? He did those drawings for me just as a present. He didn’t do any of the anime. That was Production IG. But he did those character drawings and I ended up using them in the movie. And, not only that, he did a drawing of Elle Driver (Daryl Hannah) in her nurse’s outfit and she had a red cross on her eye patch. And I thought it was such a good idea that I put it in the movie. His name is in the credits, but he didn’t get paid for it or anything. It was a gift. I met him in Hawaii and we became friends and I see him whenever I’m in Japan.

TM: How did you come up with the name O-Ren Ishii? 

QT: It wasn’t like “I’m going to honor this movie or this thing,” but finding the right name for your character is one of the most important things about writing them. You almost can’t really go forward until you get the right name. And what is the right name? Well, who the fuck knows that? You’ll know it when you hear it. So as I’m just formulating the movie, I’m also watching a bunch of stuff to get myself going again on it. They used to show the Sonny Chiba TV show Kage no Gundan(Shadow Soldiers) on a Japanese TV station out here in Los Angeles during the eighties. Me and a bunch of my friends used to get together and watch it. And we’d tape it. So I’m going through my tapes from the eighties to look at the show. And one of the female ninja (played by Etsuko Shihomi, AKA Sister Streetfighter) on Kage no Gundan 4 was named O-Ren. I thought « Well, that a pretty name. And it’s unusual too. » Also the combination of O-Ren with the name Ishii I thought worked really good together. I wasn’t necessarily trying to do an overt homage to Kage no Gundan, even though I love that show, but once I saw that name, I went with it. Then, that became her name. Lucy Liu fell in love with it. Everyone responded to it. Even Japanese people were like, « well .. that’s a Japanese name, a very unusual one, but it’s a good name. » About Kage no Gundan for a bit. There’s like multiple sequel shows. You know, Kage no Gundan 1, 2, 3, 4. Every time they did a new series it was always a different Hattori Hanzo. It was set a little further in history. Hattori Hanzo number three, Hattori Hanzo number four. It just kept on going down. So now Sonny Chiba is playing Hattori Hanzo one hundred and still continuing that character. Now the thing about this is that, the audience doesn’t need to know any of this. I’m very much a believer that if you’re creating your own universe and your own mythology, you can have no question unanswered. But here’s the thing: I don’t have to answer the questions to you the audience. You just need to know I know the answer. I can tell you the whole story of how Hattori Hanzo ended up in Okinawa and why he didn’t make a sword for 30 years, and who the bald guy is. I can tell you that. I don’t have to tell you this during the watching of the movie, but you need to know how large this world is. This is how much I’m going to tell you now, and what I don’t tell you, you can figure out. You can make up your own things. I know what’s going to happen with Nikki (Vivica A. Fox’s daughter). She will grow up and she will seek her revenge. I could go backwards. Once we get all done with this, we’re talking about the concept of doing a couple of prequels with maybe Production IG just doing full-on animation. You know, the origin of Bill for instance. But I could do it with any of the characters. As far as actually continuing the story…again, I don’t know about shooting this in live-action or animation or writing it as a paperback, who knows? But it would be every ten years. Right now, The Bride is 30. The next one would be at 40. The last one would be ten years later when she’s 50. 

TM: How about the quotation which went something like « if you want revenge, you have to be willing to kill God and even the Buddha »? 

QT: That was actually paraphrased – I rewrote it, just like I did with the Bible in Pulp Fiction – from the speech of the Yagyu ninja that Sonny Chiba would repeat at the beginning of every episode of the Yagyu Family Conspiracy TV show. And at the end of the movie, when Uma is in her helmet giving that speech, that’s the theme from Yagyu Family Conspiracy playing in the background. 

TM: Did you get any inspiration from Seijun Suzuki? 

QT: It’s funny…I’m not inspired by his movies as a whole, but by certain shots and just his willingness to just completely experiment to try and get images that are really cool or psychedelic. I’m very inspired by that. To me, his films…well, he’s a little bit like Russ Meyer for me. It’s easier to like sections of his films than the whole movie. I’m not putting him down, its just that I think he works better in sequences and scenes. And some movies work better than other movies. As for Russ Meyer, Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! is a complete masterpiece. That was one where everything worked. Suzuki did that with Branded to Kill (1967, Japan) even though I do like the first half better than the second. When you bring up Suzuki, are you more or less thinking about the Kabuki fight in the House of Blue Leaves with the silhouettes?

TM: Yes. 

QT: To me that was more something in my brain from Japanese cinema in general than Suzuki stuff in particular, but I do know what you are talking about. You’ll see it again in Volume 2 when The Bride is in her training session with Pai Mei (Gordon Liu), there a big silhouette sequence against a big giant red background. Every 15th movie in Hong Kong had an opening sequence where the characters were doing martial arts in front of a background. Sometimes you saw them, sometimes you didn’t. An usually the theme music from Isaac Hayes’ Shaft was playing! 

TM: Here’s a very general question. Should I laugh at this movie, or not? 

QT: I don’t think you should laugh AT it, I think you should laugh WITH it. 

TM: Because I heard you laughing through the screening. 

QT: I don’t hold a Japanese audience to the same rule that I would hold a black audience to. A black audience is like, « Ha ha ha ha! » You Japanese are a little more subdued when you watch a movie. Just because they’re not going « Ha ha ha ha! » when they’re watching it doesn’t mean they’re not enjoying it. I was having a good time because I was able to watch the audience without being intrusive. So I was smiling all the way. All my movies are funny, but I also wanted to go up and down, up and down. I want you to laugh, laugh, laugh, and then stop you laughing and show you something else. Maybe start you crying, and then get you laughing again. I want to just constantly keep moving. For me, if I’m watching a movie and I’m going from laughing to crying, that’s me having a good time. That’s when I know I’m seeing a movie. I’m being jerked around emotionally and it’s great. 

TM: I guess I’m thinking specifically about the scene at the end of the duel with Lucy Liu. 

QT: It’s supposed to be kind of amusing and poetic at the same time. And also just a teeny-tiny bit solemn. When you see her head, it’s funny. And then her line, « that really was a Hattori Hanzo sword., » that’s funny. But then, the next shot is not funny, when she tips over and Meiko Kaji is singing about revenge on the soundtrack. So, it’s all together. Funny. Solemn. Beautiful. Gross. All at the same time.

TM: Do you think American audiences have this kind of taste?

QT: The thing is, for some people they’ll be seeing things they’ve never seen before. In Hong Kong, in China, in Japan, in Korea, they are going to have a context for where some of this stuff is coming from. Even when it comes to stuff like Macaroni Westerns (the Japanese name for Spaghetti Westerns). Most young people in America have never seen a Macaroni Western. That actually can be an extremely good thing! You know where these things are coming from, but it’s still kind of a new experience to see Kill Bill, right? Well, for them, imagine how new it is going to be. 

TM: About the Ironside musical theme. That music is very popular in Japan. That theme was used on an « Inside Edition » style tabloid show. 

QT: Here’s the thing. They use that theme inFive Fingers of Death(Chang Ho Cheng, 1973, Hong Kong *Bigger image) and every time, the screen glows red. You know it from this tabloid show, but when I was a kid, I knew it from Ironside. 
So every time the screen would glow, people in the audience would bust up laughing because it was the Ironside theme. But at a certain point, they actually begin to like it better in the movie. By the third time they hear it, the audience is going « YEAH! KICK ASS LO LIEH! » I think it works great. And in Bill the third time you hear it, you know she’s going to kick ass! Uh .hey, can I ask you a question? Did you have a favorite scene in the film? Can I ask you what was it? 

TM: I think the fight with Go Go Yubari (Chiaki Kuriyama). 

QT: That’s mine too. I’d never shot action before, and this was my chance to really do it, and that was my first action scene. That was how I learned to do it, on that one. And I think that my be, so far, my favorite thing I’ve ever shot. Just cinematically, director-wise, I think that might be the best thing I’ve done so far. 

TM: During the fight, Go Go is kind of a Master of the Flying Guillotine. 

QT: She definitely is. That was Chiaki doing most of that stuff. She spent three months learning how to mess with that ball. People ask me, « where did you get that ball from? » Actually, I didn’t really take it from any movie. I mean, I’ve seen Hong Kong movies where they swing things, but this one I kind of created. So people say, « what’s it called? » And I say, « the Go Go Ball! » 

TM: Do you think Japanese audience will understand the line, « Silly rabbit, Trix are for kids? »

QT: Oh yeah, the Trix commercial. There’s all of these Japanese and Chinese things in the movie that I have no expectations that Americans will get at all and that’s one of the things that I don’t expect anyone outside the US to get. In my thought, that was a something O-Ren and The Bride used to say to each other when they were Deadly Vipers on a job. It was a private joke between the two of them. 

TM: How about the samurai swords on the airplane? 

QT: Well, this whole movie takes place in this special universe. This isn’t the real world. It’s funny that you bring it up because in the original script, Bill was going to have a different introduction. This is back when I was writing the part for Warren Beatty. The idea was that Bill would show up at this casino carrying a samurai sword, and the bodyguards, who also have samurai swords, ask him to leave it at the front desk. Warren goes, « wait a minute, hold it Quentin Everybody has a samurai sword? » I go « yeah. » He says, « how does that happen? » I say, « that’s the world that this movie takes place in. Everybody has a samurai sword. » And he goes, « oh! So this isn’t real life? » I go, « no! this is a movie movie universe and in this universe, people carry samurai swords. Not only do they carry samurai swords, not only can you bring a samurai sword on an airplane, there’s a place on the airplane seat to put your samurai sword! Now, I’m not saying you can do this on every flight, but on Japanese airlines you better believe there’s a place for you to put your samurai sword! 

TM: I think maybe you should have directed Road to Perdition because it was inspired by Lone Wolf and Cub.

QT: I haven’t actually seen that. I remember me and Samuel Jackson saying « oh shit! This is just Lone Wolf and Cub! What the fuck is this? » I wouldn’t mind seeing it, but it just looked so arty. You know, drowning in art. That was one of the things I wanted to be really strong about when it came to Kill Bill. This isn’t an art film mediation on these movies. This is the genuine article. The real deal. And that was one of the ideas behind splitting it in half. There just seems something pretentious about a three hour exploitation film. But two! Two exploitation movies! That’s ambitious.


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