Camera angles situate characters consciously using the principles of mis-en-scene. In Kill Bill Vol. II, The Bride (Uma Thurman) is featured in camera angles that convey her potency and power. Camera angles placed on core characters like The Bride also impart emotion and perpetuate primary themes and the tone of the film too. Three scenes that best exemplify the importance of using camera angles to render power and emotion include the trailer fight with Ellie Driver (Daryl Hannah), which takes place in Budd’s trailer, the scene in which Bill lectures The Bride about the mythology of superheroes, and the Five Pointed Palm Exploding Heart Technique scene.
A trailer is a confined space, which makes the actors loom larger than they would in a more expansive scene. The confined space also adds tension, as well as providing a natural frame for each scene. As they start fighting in the scene, the camera features Thurman and Hannah from the torso up, placing them on eye level with the viewer. More importantly, the two characters are situated on the same visual plane as one another, suggesting the even playing field and engaging the viewer in the enhanced tension that comes from not knowing how The Bride will emerge victorious. The fact that both actors have long blonde hair and are of the same stature adds to the mirroring effect; it is like watching The Bride fight herself. Even during the overhead camera angles, and the use of split-screen in the editing room, equality is crucial to the emotion of this scene. The camera angle remains trained on the women’s waists as the wield their weapons. The key to depicting power in the scene will derive, therefore, from the turning point in the fight. A false turning point occurs when Thurman has the upper hand momentarily, about to strangle Hannah with the sword. Here, the camera is fixed pointedly on a close-up of the Bride’s struggling face, at a slightly upward angle so as to make her loom as she appears to the prostrate Ellie. A more significant turning point is when a similar camera angle is trained on The Bride’s face as Ellie leaps at her. Significantly, after The Bride tries to drown Ellie in the toilet, Ellie is placed on the defense. The camera depicts The Bride’s power indirectly, by showing how her actions impact Ellie.
In the scene in which Bill (David Carradine) lectures The Bride on superhero mythology, the need to feature Thurman on camera becomes even more important. After all, she is in a showdown with her nemesis. She is shown at eye level, at medium angle sitting on the sofa with the dart in her knee. As her distress intensifies, the camera is permitted to edge closer to her face, and offer insight into her pain. The binary between Bill and the Bride is imbalanced, favored toward The Bride because Bill is shown at a much farther focal distance. However, Bill is wielding his considerable power over The Bride, and the camera angles shift to convey this when Bill states, “You can take the needle out.” He…