When I heard the Quentin Tarantino was guest programming the whole month long at Los Angeles’ New Beverly Cinema, I just about passed out. Come to find out a few days later he was going to be showing the assembled version of KILL BILL – the print of much speculation and lore – needless to say I freaked out and scored tickets immediately. Good thing I did as tickets for its two week run, March 27- April 7, have entirely sold out.
Tarantino fans have been holding their collective breath for years now waiting for KILL BILL: THE WHOLE BLOOD AFFAIR to be released. Since there are still no plans or dates the combined version will be coming to DVD anytime soon, this was the “Holy Grail” of screenings. Oh, and did I mention, it was Tarantino’s birthday yesterday and he intro’d our screening?! That’s right. The director of one of my top five favorite films introduced his film, a cut that had only been shown twice before (once at Cannes and once at the Alamo Drafthouse). Forget about it! I can die happy now.
The unrated 247 minute cut of the film played twice on Sunday to sold out crowds. Prior to the show starting, they were selling limited edition posters by Tyler Stout (see poster below) at $50 a pop. My afternoon screening treated Tarantino, the cinema’s benefactor, to a rousing sing-a-long of “Happy Birthday” before he got up to introduce the film.
So onto information about the KILL BILL print that was screened. If you are seeing the special screening and want to be surprised, obviously you should stop reading here. There will be spoilers ahead!
KILL BILL: THE WHOLE BLOODY AFFAIR was the same print that was shown in 2004 in Cannes complete with French subtitles and intermission intact. The variations from the originals range from the subtle (alternate takes used) to the impactful (no revelation “The Brides” child had lived). Most of the changes came during Volume 1 although there was a subtle change I noticed in Volume 2 where The Bride arrives in Acuna to talk with Estaban (More shots of the whores are shown).
Highlights of the Volume 1 changes include the “House of the Blue Leaves” fight sequence when the Crazy 88’s arrive is shown in full beautiful color (vs. the American version when it turns to black and white). O-Ren Ishii’s anime origin story contains more gore with Boss Motsumoto getting disemboweled. Sofie Fatale looses her other arm during a car trunk interrogation. There may have been more changes, but I haven’t see the original US version in years so it was hard for me to remember the overwhelming differences.
Most notably absent was the revelation the Bride’s child has survived, which serves as the “teaser line” in the first film to set up the second film (that premiered months later). If you hadn’t seen the films before, I would imagine this would have led for a much more dramatic impact when you see B.B. later at the Hacienda alive and being raised by Bill.
If you are a die hard fan of the film like me, you probably already own the Japanese cut on DVD and have noticed these changes are essentially what’s on that disc. Not much was altered from this cut but little things, here and there. That said, if you are a die hard fan, you will want to see and notice those differences.
If you can’t make it to LA and want to experience THE WHOLE BLOODY AFFAIR at home for yourself, here is what I recommend. Buy the Japanese disc of volume one, stop the disc after the Brides’ instructions to Sofie (after the line “Soon they will all be as dead as….”), insert volume 2 fast forwarding past the prologue and that’s basically it.
If you are a fan of the film and are in LA, I do recommend taking in a screening of this at the New Beverly. Also worth noting, sometimes special guests will show up and talk about the film so there might be a chance your screening will have a surprise. As I mentioned before the run is sold out but don’t let that dissuade you from taking your chances in the stand-by line. The odds you might get in are pretty good as they let in quite a few from that line during the show I attended.
Thanks Slash Film for the poster pic!