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Movies & TV

10th Oct 2023

20 years ago today, Tarantino’s most iconic character arrived

Rory Cashin


Tarantino’s most instantly recognisable character was actually based… on another Tarantino character that he hadn’t yet created.

Off the top of your head, who is the most iconic Tarantino character? It is open to some mild debate – Jules from Pulp Fiction? Stuntman Mike from Death Proof? Calvin Candie from Django Unchained? Cliff Booth from Once Upon A Time In Hollywood? – but, in reality, the most iconic character should have been found in Inglorious Basterds.

Would it have been Brad Pitt as Aldo Raine, or Christoph Waltz as Hans Landa? Nope, in a parallel cinematic universe, it would have been Shosanna Dreyfus, played by Mélaine Laurent. In the original Tarantino script, Dreyfus was going to be an assassin with a list of Nazis that she would cross off her list as she killed them, one by one.

If that description sounds somewhat familiar, that is because Tarantino told Charlie Rose that he decided to swap out those characteristics for The Bride instead, completely reworking the idea of Dreyfus for that future release.

Arriving in cinemas on 10 October 2003, Kill Bill Vol.1 was Tarantino’s first movie in six years, arriving in the wake of 1997’s Jackie Brown, which received a much more muted response than his previous movie, 1994’s generation-definition crime epic Pulp Fiction. To date, that is still the biggest gap between movies on Tarantino’s CV.

The idea for The Bride was created by both Tarantino and Thurman while they made Pulp Fiction together, and while they enjoyed a great professional alliance up to that point, an on-set car crash while making Kill Bill soured their relationship for years.

Following the arrival of Kill Bill Vol.2 in 2004, Tarantino and Thurman have not worked together again, and as recently as this summer, Tarantino finally confirmed that Vol.3 will never see the light of day.

Despite the rocky road to and during production, the finished product did give us Thurman as The Bride, and you’ll be hard pressed to find a character as iconic as the Hattori Hanzō sword-wielding, bright yellow bike leathers-bedecked tsunami of vengeance.

By the end of its cinematic run, Vol.1 had banked $176 million worldwide (from a slight $30 million budget), making it only the fifth biggest hit of his career. It also scored 85% with critics on Rotten Tomatoes, similarly ranking fifth among Tarantino’s movies, scoring the exact same as Once Upon A Time In Hollywood.

In the two decades since its release, Vol.1 has been consistently ranked alongside the likes of Mad Max: Fury Road, John Wick and Mission: Impossible – Fallout as being one of the best action movies of the 21st century, and remains – whisper it – the most purely entertaining movie on the Tarantino filmography. Not the best, but definitely the most fun.

Kill Bill Vol.1 and Vol.2 are both available to rent on Google Play, Rakuten TV, Apple TV and the Sky Store right now.

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