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Kill Bill and the Wave of Globalization

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One exiting development in some recent films is the seamless integration of globalization. Say what you will about Quentin Tarantino’s bloody new homage to kung-fu and spaghetti westerns Kill Bill Vol. 1 but it is as close to a movie can get to removing national borders.

It’s about as simple a tale as can be told, but Tarantino’s thrown in 70’s Hong Kong action star Sonny Chiba, music by Zamfir’s that would make a clown cry, the rhythms of The RZA, the wildness of the 5,6,7,8’s, and even boot walking Nancy Sinatra. The film is in English, it’s in Japanese, there are subtitles, then they are gone, and there’s even an Anime sequence. And let’s not forget Uma! There are so many competing influences you’ll probably have to see the film a few times to sort them out.

Part of this potent cocktail is the magic of Tarantino. “I hardly think I would have believed that in Kill Bill Vol 1, his delirious splatter opera of cruelty and revenge, Tarantino could manage a similar feat with Zamfir,” writes Owen Gleiberman in Entertainment Weekly. “That’s right: the pan-flute guy. In Kill Bill Zamfir pipes out ‘The Loney Sheppard,’ a quaver of a ballad that sounds like the most haunting spaghetti Western score Ennio Morricone never wrote.”

It was filmed in Japan, China, Los Angeles, and Mexico (as Texas) too. When the final showdown in Volume 1 is entitled “Showdown at the House of Blue Leaves” you get the sense that this is no ordinary tea house and no ordinary showdown.

What Kill Bill does is go beyond the superficial appreciation of other cultures. It is not like going down to the local sushi restaurant or anything like going to the taco shack up the street to have a slice of culture.

No, it destroys those ‘gimme’ acts of globalization and culture the same way going to a McDonald’s in France tells you nothing really about America or France. It is more evolved than, say, simply mixing up culture like a bad fusion restaurant. It isn’t just combining Chinese, Japanese, and Westerns into a western stir fry-it is taking them, loving them, and creating something new altogether. It may be an all-new wholly original Quentin Tarantino world or glimpse of movie making in the future.

Jackson Murphy is a commentator from Vancouver, Canada. He is a senior writer at Enter Stage Right and the editor of “Dispatches” a website that serves up political commentary 24-7.

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About Jackson Murphy

  • Eric Olsen

    Thanks Jackson! excellent and insightful analysis, giving a different perspective to the whole debate.

  • The wave of globalization is indeed impressive especially in the mode in which it is rendered: film. Film is the dominant art form of the postmodern era because it seemlessly encapsulates all of the preceding art forms in its wake — music, sculpture, painting, etc — so, so easily. But the simulacrum of film is, more interestingly, the externalization of the mind of the director and writer, his or her vision. So, in a sense, given that Tarantino grew up in New Jersey in the 1980s and worked in a video store, it is no wonder that he would be the Owl of Minerva to carry out the wave of globalization … how could he not? American capitalism and internationalism and immigration and artistic liberalism create the global man and, in his creations, whether in art or in business, reflect that philosophical background radiation and further the Weltanshaung, which now appears to be global postmodernism. No wonder that a kid from jersey with a mad on for films of all manner is the messenger of a New Age.

  • Thanks for the comments. It’s rather fitting that a guy from New Jersey can straddle the film world using influences from around the world, isn’t it. Amazing world we live in.

  • Yippy Do

    I seldom buy Soundtracks, but the haunting melody of Zamfir, YES Zamfir, the pan flute was the reason I bought the sound trac.

  • Nick Jones

    Tarantino’s from Tennessee.