Women Action In Reservoir Dogs And Pulp Fiction

Blood, violence, language, sex, and death: all things focused on in sterotypical masculine movies, and all things director Quentin Taratino utilizes to make his movies so successful. Movies like Reservoir Dogs and Pulp Fiction changed the action genre forever as filmmakers desperately try to copy Tarantino’s unique style and intense themes. But even with all of his glory, Tarantino has received criticism on his heavily male cast and characters and for not letting females share the screen. Tarantino has proved them wrong by creating characters such as Beatrix in Kill Bill and Shosanna in Inglourious Basterds who thrived in situations most people couldn’t. By creating female characters who struggle living in a hyper-masculine world but still held their own, Tarantino shows how women are survivors and throughout his movies, has consistent female empowerment.

She is not perfect, as she is hunting down and killing those who hurt her, but she stands for something much bigger than that; she is a symbol of resilience against those who push her down. In Kill Bill: Volume 1 (Tarantino), Beatrix, or “The Bride”, goes on a roaring rampage of revenge. Her backstory is a uniquely tragic one, once a part of the Deadly Viper squad of assassins and bearing the child of their leader Bill, she was almost murdered on her wedding day by the man himself. When Beatrix first wakes up from her four year coma, she is heartbroken. The memories of the night she was shot come flooding back, she finds out she has lost her baby, and learns she was raped multiple times while she was in comatose. She is overwhelmed with pain but finds the physical and emotional strength to get up and fight. From that moment on, she was determined to destroy all those who wronged her: the men who have raped her, the Deadly Viper squad, and Bill. She begins to kill members of the Deadly Viper squad, and it’s all quite cathartic, but by Kill Bill: Volume 2 (Tarantino), she shows a different approach to revenge.

Beatrix was beginning to find the balance between being both vengeful and compassionate and she found that with Bill. She fantasized about getting revenge on the man who hurt her, as it is easy to turn pain into rage, but the final conversation between Beatrix and Bill showed a maturity and power within her. Before she became pregnant, Beatrix’s entire identity was wrapped up in being “Bill’s woman”. She was willing to do anything for the man she had tied herself to. Motherhood changed that and forced her to think about who she was as both an individual and as a protector of the child within her. When it comes time for Beatrix to kill Bill, she gives him a peaceful death, something so rarely afforded in the assassin world. It’s a moment of compassion, and one that proves the Bride is more than a heartless killing machine bent on revenge. She’s a mother and a fighter who is capable of empathy despite her pain, which shows viewers they could be too. Tarantino fan and film critic Danielle Ryan revealed in an article that Kill Bill resembled strength Ryan was dealing with in her own life. She was an abusive relationship when she first saw the movie and she felt hope for her future. She had “hope that [she] too could change. [She] could heal.. and could come out on the other side even stronger than before” (Ryan). The first half of Beatrix’s story focuses on how her trauma does not define or confine her. The second half, maybe unexpectedly, shows compassion for people who may not deserve it.

She had to keep herself safe. She was put into terrifying situations against her will, and often had to put on a show of strength to keep from crumbling. Most ran away to survive, but nothing about that felt powerful to Shosanna Dreyfus. She ran away to find a quiet place to plan her revenge and assure no matter what, she would get it in the end. In Inglourious Basterds (Tarantino), Tarantino takes a different approach to the heinous crimes of World War II and the Holocaust and tells a story with a slightly different ending to our reality. The movie starts off with “Jew-Hunter” Hans Landa coming to the home of the Dreyfus family and murdering them all in cold-blood, except for little Shosanna who barely escaped. She ran away to France and was taken in by a cinema owner to take cover from the Nazis.

While Shosanna’s eventual revenge is glorious, the scene that struck me the hardest was a much quieter one. Hans Landa (Christoph Waltz) was the monster in Shosanna’s story, the Nazi officer who killed her family. There is a scene where she is out to lunch and Hans shows up and sits down to talk with her. Though Shosanna is living under a new identity, she fears that Landa will recognize her. She had to stay calm and not break cover while she stares down her family’s murderer. This was a very real interaction, having to sit across the table from someone you fear or hate and be forced to smile. And she handled it with such poise. Shosanna clearly knows how to play the role of a subservient woman, even if she’s only playing the role to seek her revenge and survive in a hostile environment. Film critic Peter Bradshaw describes her as someone who has “a cool, reserved intelligence, a sense of self-possession, a way of dominating the screen by doing little or nothing.” In the end, she did find the revenge she was longing for. Because she owns a cinema, she held a Nazi movie watching party and managed to lure all important Nazi officials to come watch, including Hitler himself. Then, after much consideration and years built up planning, she burned down the building and everyone in it.

If the Bride had endured one way, Shosanna was an example of another way to exist. Both of these women showed how to achieve revenge in their own ways, not following anyone's rules but their own. They controlled their own destiny and followed their own means to survive. Tarantino created two role models for women on how to survive in a man’s world, navigating their way through corruption and toxicity. Tarantino gave us examples of what it’s like to really fight like a girl. 

07 July 2022
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