Posted on Friday, April 8th, 2011 by Germain Lussier
Ever since Kill Bill Volume 1 was released in 2003, we’d been hearing that writer/director Quentin Tarantino ultimately planned on releasing both halves in one epic package. Kill Bill Volume 2 came out a year later and it seemed like a logical time for the big reveal. Nope. Then, in 2004, Tarantino showed a combined version of the film at the Cannes Film Festival that became known as Kill Bill: The Whole Bloody Affair. We thought that meant general audiences would finally get to see it in some way but alas, that was not the case. Amazon put up a page about it, images of box art leaked online and Tarantino himself said they were working on a new animation sequence but still, there was nothing. Years passed and finally Tarantino’s theater, the New Beverly Cinema in Los Angeles, was permitted to show the film theatrically for the first time in the United States.
The print, which was the exact one that screened at Cannes – complete with French subtitles – played from March 27 (Tarantino’s birthday) through April 7 to mostly sold out audiences. After being out of town for the majority of the run, I was finally able to see the film on its final evening and it was a near perfect movie going experience. Four plus hours of bliss that make Kill Bill better than you ever thought it could be.
After the jump, we’ll discuss the changes and how those changes improve the original theatrical releases.
The film, complete with intermission, runs 215 minutes. Right off the bat, there’s a major change as the Klingon proverb has been replaced by a dedication to filmmaker Kinji Fukasaku. By removing the quote, it immediately makes it obvious that, because this is one huge film instead of two very different ones, Kill Bill isn’t solely about revenge for the sake of revenge anymore.
From there, the movie is identical all the way up until the O-Ren Ishii anime sequence. Because this is the print that showed at Cannes several years back, it does not include the extended anime sequence that Tarantino has hinted at before. It does, however, add a few more violent shots that were probably cut to get an R-rating in the United States, such as the spilling intestines of pedophile yakuza boss Matsumoto.
The House of Blue Leaves battle is now completely visualized in blood-drenched color and the shot of The Bride blinking to turn the color back on has been removed. There are also several different angles and gory shots added into the sequence including a brief, earlier encounter with the young boy The Bride ends up spanking with her sword. With that addition, that second encounter pays off better.
During the final scene, the wicked Sofie Fatale loses her other arm on camera and instead of the film ending on Bill saying “Is she aware her daughter is still alive?” it ends on The Bride, over the trunk, saying “They’ll all be as dead as O-Ren” before cutting to a musical interlude for intermission. Removing that final cliffhanger from the movie is the most significant change.
Volume 2 doesn’t have any titles or the direct address introduction, that’s all been cut out. Instead we begin right at the beginning of Chapter 6, Massacre at Two Pines, and from there the film is totally the same as the original theatrical cut. However, now that Bill hasn’t dropped the huge news that The Bride’s daughter is alive at the end of Volume 1, the whole film feels different. All of the dramatic irony is gone. Even though we’ve seen Volume 1 before, just looking at The Whole Bloody Affair on its own and forgetting what we already know, once The Bride gets to Bill and it’s revealed that her daughter, B.B., is still alive, we’re as surprised as she is.
Holding back that emotional reveal until the last possible moment, as is the case in this version, is a vast improvement from the original releases where we knew she’d eventually find out. While all of the murders were always motivated by revenge, they felt a little softer knowing The Bride would eventually be encountering her daughter. Her daughter, after all, is the reason why she stopped killing and left Bill in the first place and it was her death that largely motivated the killing spree. So when we the audience, simultaneously with the Bride, are slammed with B.B. actually being alive, an iron curtain or morality also slams down on us. Would The Bride have tried to kill all of the other assassins if she knew B.B. was alive? Should Bill remain around as the father? These questions and much more give the film gravitas it never had before.
While that reveal changes how the finale of the film feels, everything else is aesthetically the same. However, the extended end credits montage is much cooler now because instead of seeing characters you saw a year ago, you saw them just a few hours ago in the same sitting.
I must say, we’re spoiled here in Los Angeles. After almost a decade of dreaming about seeing Kill Bill as one movie, to actually be able to do it, and for it to be this special print with that awesome Tyler Stout poster made, it was truly memorable. I’d always preferred the action of Volume 1 to the talking of Volume 2 but now, after watching both films together as one, it’s impossible to think of Kill Bill as anything other than one film. One masterful film that rivals Pulp Fiction as Tarantino’s best.
Hopefully, eventually, Tarantino will get this cut, complete with the new animation sequence, released on Blu-ray and everyone will be able to see The Whole Bloody Affair as it was originally intended. If not, it would be a sin because this is the definitive version of Kill Bill and the minor changes make such a huge difference.