Spotting the Movie References in Beyoncé and Jay Z's Short, "Bang Bang"

From Godard's "Breathless" to Tarantino's "Kill Bill," these are the film references Beyoncé and Jay Z's Short, "Bang Bang."

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America's most powerful, influential, and talented couple, Beyoncé and Jay Z are giving us a short film one part at a time. The first installment of "Bang Bang" one-ups Tarantino's Kill Bill series by have 1) a third chapter and 2) way more Godard references. The title primes the viewer for Nancy Sinatra's "Bang Bang" (itself a Cher cover), but that's just a fake-out. Instead, there's Tarantino favorite Ennio Morricone, the composer for Sergio Leone's most famous Westerns.


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The first half of the first third of "Bang Bang" is a little Pulp Fiction (criminals, diner) with a splash of back-stage musical and young-love-on-the-run road movie. Beyoncé sparkles in black-and-white like the title character in Fassbinder's Veronika Voss. Only instead of an aging actress who loves her pills, Beyoncé is a shimmering vision of health and class and all things that are good.


Jay Z, as all of us are, is an adoring fan. It's charming. Then, over the credits and displayed in a smaller screen, like b-roll, Jay Z steps into the role of Jean-Paul Belmondo in Godard's Breathless (À bout de souffle for all you film school grads). The young firecracker of the French New Wave, Godard shot Breathless in 1959 over the course of 20-something days. Belmondo's character does this thing where he draws his thumb across his lips while smoking because he fancies himself a gangster. Jay Z doing this doesn't really qualify as "acting" in the traditional sense.


Beyoncé strikes a pose with a rolled photograph that's a direct lift from Godard's film. She's even wearing a striped shirt, just like Jean Seberg. Given the uncanny turn of Bey's head, it looks like the action is playing out in reverse, a technique François Truffaut used to great effect during the opening of his adaptation of Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451. (Truffaut and Godard both wrote for the same film journal, Cahiers du cinéma.)


Hopefully the next parts of the short can synthesize Wong Kar-Wai's In the Mood for Love. Watching Jay and Bey get noodles in the rain would kill approximately 39 cinephiles who also pay attention to pop music. It would be a devastating loss that would ring out across Twitter like a rifle shot. Bang bang. (I'm dead.)

Ross Scarano is a deputy editor at Complex. He appreciates "Grindin" for Drake's Bardot reference. He tweets here.

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