I know we usually rave about movies with original soundtracks, but Quentin Tarantino is a master filmmaker, and has paid personal attention to every detail of his movies, down to the choice of songs. I once saw in an interview that he said he chose the music for both Kill Bill movies from his own personal soundtrack collection. Soundtrack within a soundtrack? Soundception.
His choices might seem unusual at first in an actiony kung-fu flick, but they set such an amazing tone for the movie, and I don't think he could have done any better. The music is what gives the film its eerie, timeless, and tense atmosphere.
Who could forget that amazing opening scene, followed by some credits - accompanied by Nancy Sinatra's melancholic lament "My Baby Shot Me Down." Could he have a found a more perfect tune, lyrics-wise and tone-wise, to open the film with? Think not.
I'm personally drawn to this next song, by an artist named Lily Chou-Chou. The song is called Kaifuku Suru Kizu, and I don't know what it means, and I don't wanna know. It's another hauntingly beautiful song, that is almost lyricless, but yet saying so much. We hear it when the Bride comes face to face with all the Hanzo swords and is pretty much awestruck by them, and the song likens this moment to an almost religious experience.
We also take an unexpected twist with some Zamfir - a sad little diddy called "The Lonely Shepherd", which we hear when the Bride meets the one and only Hattori Hanzo. The song starts out with the simple flute, but grows to be a little more intense, and slightly cowboy-on-the-range slash mariachi band slash asian dojo. Lyrics? Don't think so. It means what you want it to mean. Whoa, that's deep shit right there.
Here's another piece of unmistakably skilled filmmaking. Tarantino couples this amazing, long tracking shot with a quirky song by a Japanese girl band called the 5,6,7,8s. Great name. Great song. Woo hooo, hoo hoo hoo.
The climactic fight between the Bride and O-Ren is stressful enough, and Quentin added another latino-flavoured twist to the Asian backdrop. This song, called "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" has an amazing build-up of clapping (that sounds lame but listen to it and you'll see) which kicks into high gear with more brass instruments. The whole thing complements the fight perfectly, and although the movie doesn't feature them, the song DOES have great lyrics.
Skip to the 40 second mark for the tune.
There are MANY great songs in this film apart from the ones I mentioned, like this and this and this and of course this. So watch the movie again and pay special attention to the music. Have you ever seen another filmmaker mix japanese culture with the sounds of rock 'n' roll, mariachi, and westerns? It is truly a one of a kind combination, and I highly recommend giving Kill Bill another watch just for the pleasure of your ears.