Thursday, April 15, 2004

Killing Bill & Jesus

Uma Thurman's character quips in Kill Bill, which I caught on DVD last night, "When fortune smiles on something as violent and ugly as revenge, it seems proof like no other: not only does God exist, you're doing His will."

I'm not much of a Tarentino fan, but my memory of Pulp Fiction draws attention to this repeated theme of vengeance as divine act. While most Christians today run for the hills at any hint of the "medieval" god of retribution, Tarentino revels in this god. Obviously, this isn't a theological conviction on his part; rather it's aesthetic. Only the most puritanical would moralize over Tarentino's homage to this god. Yet the squeamishness of liberal Christians over orthodoxy's anti-Marcion fidelity to a God of wrathful justice looks too much like Nietzschean ressentiment; it moves me to see a resonance between Tarentino and Catholic orthodoxy I'd never considered before.

Interpreting the violence in Kill Bill would help more theological idiots out there to interpret the violence in TPOTC. The amounts of blood spewn and splattered in Kill Bill is clearly genre-based. While the physiological realism of TPOTC has been questioned, eg., the amount of blood a truly human Jesus could shed, with Kill Bill there is no such debate over the physics of dismemberment or bloodshed. In Kill Bill, it is assumed that the violence is stylized in the tradition of anime and Japanese and HK martial arts films. The violence is depicted using aesthetic, not scientific standards. Is there some realism in Kill Bill? Of course. But most rational humans understand that it's not trying to achieve strict medical realism. Same with TPOTC. Mel's film descends from several aged traditions and genres, primarily Catholic, that treats the Gospels as theological-aesthetic portraits (not photgraphs) of Christ. It's a messianic realism. Historical or physiological accuracy is used only in service to Christological truth, not the other way around.

Tarantino should've enjoyed Mel's movie.
BTW, Uma is simply stunning. As wounded, battered, and pregnant bride, reborn after four comatose years as ass-kickin' biyatch, her character could even serve as an allegory for the Church Militant in the Book of Revelation. But perhaps her beauty just bedazzled me beyond reason.