Yes, Quentin Tarantino movies are ultraviolent, but if you take a close look at the women he’s brought to the screen, it’s easy to see they are some of the strongest, most flawed and exciting female characters in modern cinema. Here are 11 Tarantino female characters that have inspired me as a writer.
1. The Bride aka Beatrix “Black Mamba” Kiddo, from Kill Bill Vol. 1 & Vol. 2
Played brilliantly by Uma Thurman, The Bride is a woman with a vendetta that spans an interrupted wedding, a coma, a stolen baby, getting buried alive and a dramatic sword fight. One of Tarantino’s strokes of brilliance is that he understands how far a woman will go to get revenge, and The Bride certainly goes all the way.
Defining quote: “It’s mercy, compassion and forgiveness I lack. Not rationality.”
2. Elle Driver aka California Mountain Snake, from Kill Bill Vol. 1 & Vol. 2
Jealous of The Bride for her relationship with their leader, Bill (David Carradine), Elle (Daryl Hannah) has experienced a difficult life of her own. Having trained in Chinese combat, her mentor Pai Mei (Chia-Hui Liu), plucked out her eye when she disrespected him. She later got revenge on Pai Mei by poisoning his meal of fish heads.
Defining quote (to The Bride): “I might never have liked you; point in fact, I despised you. But that shouldn’t suggest that I don’t respect you. Dying in our sleep is a luxury that our kind is rarely afforded. My gift to you.”
3. Shosanna Dreyfus, from Inglourious Basterds
Shosanna (Mélanie Laurent), was hunted down by Nazis, barely managing to escape her farm in rural France where the rest of her family was murdered. As an adult, Shosanna takes on a new identity and runs a movie theater where the Nazis are planning to show a war propaganda film. Tarantino rewrites history in the film about World War II, using Shosanna as his powerful muse.
Defining quote: “I have a message for Germany.”
4. Broomhilda von Shaft, from Django Unchained
Broomhilda (Kerry Washington), was named after the German mythological character Brynhildr, a warrior goddess rescued from a prison of hellfire. Having been owned by German-Americans, Broomhilda also speaks the German language. Broomhilda endures countless tortures but is the symbol of true romantic love as she longs to be reunited with her husband, Django (Jamie Foxx). She is tough as nails, smart and despite her dark suffering, manages to keep her heart open to love.
Defining quote: her silence as she endures the “hot box” torture.
5. Daisy Domergue aka The Prisoner, from The Hateful Eight
Trapped in a cabin in the midst of a snowstorm, Daisy Domergue (Jennifer Jason Leigh), is being held captive by The Hangman (Kurt Russell). Daisy has committed murder and The Hangman will soon collect his reward money by delivering Daisy to the sheriff in the next town. But Daisy has a few tricks left up the sleeve of her handcuffed arm. She’s feisty, vindictive, clever and knows how to take a punch. Of the Hateful Eight, she’s the most frightening character of all.
Defining quote: “When you get to hell, tell ’em Daisy sent ya.”
6. O-Ren Ishii aka Cottonmouth, from Kill Bill
Lucy Liu plays the emotionally scarred O-Ren as a warrior with extreme confidence and pride in her mixed Japanese, Chinese and American heritage. As an 11-year-old child, she killed the crime boss who was exploiting her and other children. As an adult, she becomes the head of her own crime syndicate called the Tokyo Yakuza.
Defining quote: “Silly Caucasian girl likes to play with samurai swords.”
7. Vernita Green aka Copperhead, from Kill Bill
Partly responsible for the assassination attempt on The Bride, Vernita left her crime days behind to raise her little girl. Though she’s a lethal force, she’s knows she can’t escape the deadly Black Mamba, and is most concerned about being killed in front of her child, just as any mom-assassin would be.
Defining quote: “Look, bitch… I need to know if you’re going to start any more shit around my baby girl.”
8. Jackie Brown from Jackie Brown
Pam Grier stars as Jackie Brown in this homage to blaxploitation films. Jackie is a flight attendant who’s forced to take a less lucrative job for a smaller airline. To make ends meet, she begins smuggling money from Mexico when she gets arrested for unknowingly smuggling cocaine. Jackie Brown is a no-nonsense negotiator with a cool, level head no man can compete with.
Defining quote: “Shut your raggedy ass up and sit the f*** down!”
9. Zoë Bell from Death Proof
Having worked as Uma Thurman’s stunt double on Kill Bill, Zoë Bell caught the eye of Tarantino, who wrote Death Proof for her. The story is about a stunt woman who gets one last chance to play a game called ship’s mast, where she has to hang on the roof of a Dodge Challenger racing at high speeds. Her performance is electric and like no other on film, considering she did all her stunts herself.
Defining quote: “If he lets us take it out on our own, I want to play ship’s mast.”
10. Mia Wallace from Pulp Fiction
Mia (Uma Thurman) is a former actress whose claim to fame was starring in a TV pilot called Fox Force Five. Though she has her flaws — most notably, her cocaine addiction — her famous dance scene with Vincent Vega (John Travolta) was iconic. This neonoir chick redefined 1990s style and attitude.
Defining quote: “I do believe Marsellus Wallace, my husband, your boss, told you to take me out and do whatever I wanted. Now I wanna dance, I wanna win. I want that trophy, so dance good.”