Pulp Fiction – 1994 Color – 154 mins. Producer: Lawrence Bender Director: Quentin Tarantino Screenplay: Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary Director of Photography: Andrzej Sekula Editor: Sally Menke Music: Rolf Johnson Introduction Released in October of 1994, this crime/thriller/gangster film, directed by Quentin Tarantino, is still one of the most widely controversial classic American movies of all time. Pulp Fiction blew the Box Office away when it received a whopping nine million dollars on opening night alone.
The film is known for its extremely ironic blend of humor and brutal violence, as well as its multiple story lines that eventually weave themselves together. Quentin Tarantino strays from the ordinary script by giving the characters long, intense, and surprisingly profound monologues and dialogues throughout this film. The film’s title, Pulp Fiction, comes from magazines and novels about gangs and crime that were popular during the time of the films release. Tarantino presents his trademark style of the out of order plot in this film, just as in many of his others.
The inspiration of this film has been profoundly felt throughout many aspects of the film industry, even having an affect on the independent film world, though it is not an independent movie. Pulp Fiction stars many famous Hollywood actors such as John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Tim Roth, Amanda Plummer, and Bruce Willis. In 1995 Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary won the Oscar for Best Writing for this film, and it was nominated for six other Oscars in the same year. Tarantino was also awarded the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival for his directing this movie in 1994.
Pulp Fiction was truly an influential movie for its time and, without a doubt, a classic American film. Plot Summary As the credits end a title card is shown which gives two dictionary definitions of the word “pulp. ” The camera then fades to show a couple sitting in a diner having a discussion about robbing banks and liquor stores. The woman, called “Honey Bunny,” and the man, “Pumpkin,” decide they would likely make more from customers wallets than they would from the till itself. They proceed to stand up in their booth and announce that they are robbing the diner.
Immediately after he announces this the scene cuts and the opening credits begin. We then see two men, who we later learn are Jules Winnfield and Vincent Vega, driving a car and discussing a recent trip to Europe. The two are wearing dress suits and are on their way to get a briefcase for their boss, Marsellus Wallace, from a man that did business with Wallace without paying him for it. Winnfield and Vega discuss foot massages, their bosses wife, and “Royale with Cheeses” before ultimately entering the mans room, retrieving the briefcase, and killing the man and another man in the room.
The scene cuts and we are in what appears to be an empty restaurant with Butch Coolidge, a fighter, and Marsellus Wallace. Coolidge agrees to lose his upcoming fight in exchange for a great deal of money from Wallace. The next day, Vega drives to a friends house to shoot up heroin before heading to Marsellus Wallace’s house to take his wife, Mia Wallace, out for the night, just as Wallace asked him to while he is away. They arrive at Jack Rabbit Slim’s, a fifties diner, and participate in a twist competition, and return to the Wallace house.
While Vega is in the bathroom, Mia finds a bag of heroin in his jacket pocket and, thinking it is cocaine, shorts it and overdoses. Scared and worried, Vega rushes Mia to his heroin dealers house to try and save her. They proceed to give her a shot of adrenaline in her chest which awakens her, and Mia and Vincent decide not to tell Wallace about what happened. The story then goes back to Coolidge, the fighter, preparing for his fight. Having received the money from Wallace to throw the fight prior to the fight, he wins the fight, flees the arena, and hops in a cab.
He learns from the driver that he killed his opponent and hides out in a motel with his girlfriend before realizing that she forgot to pack his watch. When he returns to his apartment he notices a gun on the counter and, upon seeing Vega exit his bathroom, he shoots and kills him. When leaving the apartment Coolidge hits Wallace with his car. After a foot chase, kidnapping by a shop owner, and Coolidge saving Wallace’s life, Wallace agrees to forget about the fight so long as he does not tell anyone bout what happened with the shop owner. The story then returns to Vega and Winnfield at the apartment when a man they were not aware was there jumps out of the bathroom and shoots at them. He misses every shot and is killed when Vega and Winnfield return fire, and Winnfield is convinced it is a sign from God that they were not hit with a single bullet. They then take the only man left alive in the apartment, Marvin, to be their informant. While in the car talking about the “miracle from God,” Vega accidentally shoot Marvin in the face.
In an act to get their blood covered car out of public the two men call upon a friend, played by Quentin Tarantino, for help cleaning up. With the help of a “The Wolf” the men and their friend are able to clean up the car, themselves, and dispose of the body and go to breakfast. As they eat breakfast in a coffee shop, they discuss Winnfield’s plan of retiring due to the “sign from God. ” The story then cuts to Honey Bunny and Pumpkin and their discussion from the first scene of the movie, just before they hold up the same restaurant where Vega and Winnfield are eating.
With Vega in the bathroom, Honey Bunny and Pumpkin announce they are robbing the place and request Winnfield’s mysterious briefcase. Winnfield draws his gun on Pumpkin which causes Honey Bunny to point her gun at Winnfield as well until Vega emerges from the bathroom with his gun pointed at Honey Bunny. Winnfield tells the couple he will let them go with the money they collected from the customers wallets so long as he lets him keep the briefcase. They agree and leave the restaurant with their loot. Winnfield decides he is going to be retiring after they give Wallace the briefcase.
The scene then fades to black and the movie is over. Comments/Response To me, this film is a one of a kind piece of art that Quentin Tarantino beautifully wrote and directed. Some aspects of the movie – the fact that the audience must decode the order of the scenes – were not my favorite, but overall this film is one of the greatest, in my eyes. Tarantino’s use of dialogue in this film is astonishingly clever as most people would not think of “gangsters” as the type to enjoy a good intellectual conversation.
Similarly, I found it interesting that Samuel L. Jackson’s character, Jules Winnfield, seemed to be a religious man in that twice during the movie he recites Ezekiel 25:17 from the bible, as well as believing that the fact that they had been shot at several times and had not been hit was a sign from God. Tarantino does an outstanding job with having the first and the last scenes partially overlap as well as having them unfold at the same time, even though they are not presented together in the movie.
He ultimately allows the audience to see the same scene twice but from an entirely new perspective without even realizing it at first. All in all, Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction is not only a classic American film that has forever changed several media, but it also successfully skews the audiences morals into unknowingly viewing the “bad guys” as the heros, which is no easy task in film. This is a must see film for all who love a great film as well as a good deal of blood.
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