The story of Hamlet is an example of amazing Shakespearean literature, and I’m not just saying this to get a good grade it is one of William Shakespeare’s best screenplays. But another story that is nearly as good is the two part film Kill Bill Vol. 1 and Kill Bill Vol. 2 directed by Quentin Tarantino. The reason I’m comparing these two stories is because of their similar theme, revenge, yet they both demonstrate it in very drastic ways.
Kill Bill tells the story of a character only known as the Bride who lived a life of crime as an assassin. She then retires to a peaceful new life, out in the desert with a new home, new alias, and new partner, who she gets engaged too. But then everything changes when the chapel on her wedding day is massacred by the Bride’s former boss Bill and the rest of her old assassin friends. The Bride gets shot in the head but survives in the hospital, and as soon as she wakes up from a four year coma she wants nothing more but vengeance on every last assassin that ruined her new life. Vol. 1 begins showing us the Bride visiting and killing the first assassin Vernita who has found a life as a single mother her daughter witnesses the killing and the Bride apologizes, offering her a chance at revenge. Then the film moves on to Japan to find O-Ren codenamed “Cottonmouth”. She gets leads from the legendary sword-smith Hittori Hanzo who breaks his vow of never forging a sword to help her get revenge on Bill. The Bride then finds O-Ren in the Tokyo underground but she is defended by her Yakuza army called “The Crazy 88” and her sadistic bodyguard. The Bride then spars with all 89 of them in an incredible NSFW fight scene. Eventually she personally duels O-Ren in the gardens and O-Ren gets scalped. After the Bride gets information on Bill’s whereabouts she leaves Tokyo and Vol. 2 begins with the Bride finding Budd, Bill’s brother. Budd is a disgruntled strip club bouncer who buries the Bride alive. The Bride escapes her casket using techniques learned by her former master Pai Mei. The Bride then finds Budd who attempts to give her Hanzo sword to Elle Driver. But a Black Mamba (Ironic to The Bride’s nickname) is planted in the briefcase holding the sword which slowly poisons and kills Budd and takes Elle’s eyes, leaving her fate up to interpretation. The Bride whose name is revealed as Beatrix Kiddo finally finds Bill in his home with help from a Mexican pimp. Beatrix gets her ultimate revenge by killing Bill with the Five Point Palm Exploding Heart technique and gets her and Bill’s daughter back and they live a new life together.
Despite the similar theme I’d say this movie has more differences than similarities with Hamlet. A very drastic difference is the way they present the moral of the story. Hamlet gives the message pretty clear; revenge is never necessary, others will get hurt in your wake. But in Kill Bill, the message is incredibly subtle, whether or not revenge is necessary is up to interpretation. But one similarity is how they both present revenge as a vicious cycle that keeps repeating itself. The scene where Beatrix kills Copperhead shows that her daughter witnessed the whole thing, and even Beatrix offers her a chance at revenge when she’s older, showing that revenge is a never-ending cycle. Also the King killed Hamlets father out of vengeance and that caused the whole plot of the play
It is quite obvious that Prince Hamlet and Beatrix are two different people with different perspectives, but I would say they’re motives for killing are quite common. They both lost someone close to them and want to see the killer dead by their own hands. Not to mention they are both quite adept with swords. But it’s very safe to say Beatrix is far more emotionally stable, able to kill without external remorse, but Hamlet was unable to kill Claudius the first time he had a chance because he didn’t want Claudius to go to heaven. Beatrix has killed practically nobody without hesitation.
However I would say that the antagonists of both stories have the most polarizing personalities in multiple ways. One antagonist Bill, got to make peace with the protagonist of the story, but Claudius never got a chance to make peace with Hamlet. But there is one similarity I found with between King Claudius and all antagonists of Kill Bill, and that is their hidden, undying admiration for the protagonist. Claudius hesitates to kill hamlet because he admires him, and possibly loves him as a nephew. Budd buries Beatrix instead of immediately killing her, presumably because he knew she could escape. O-Ren’s last words were in admiration of Beatrix’s sword and her skills, and Bill doesn’t kill Beatrix, even though he more than likely could.
I think each story has had a huge legacy in the world of entertainment, obviously Hamlet being the greater one considering it still being acted as of today. Kill Bill was a movie I enjoyed watching extensively, and would like to see it as remembered and praised almost as long as Hamlet. But overall, these two films can teach us the morals, ethics and consequences of getting vengeance on another human being, through intense fight sequences, and poetic justice.
— Nathan Davis