pulp/'pelp/n.1.A soft, moist, shapeless mass of matter. 2.A magazine or book containing lurid subject matter and being characteristically printed on rough, unfinished paper.
In a world of questions, Pulp Fiction is the answer. What's that movie with the guy from Die Hard where he's a boxer? Pulp Fiction. What's that movie where the hitman quotes from the bible before he offs someone? Pulp Fiction. What's that movie where Marilyn Monroe is some kinda waitress? What's that movie that opens with the great song in a coffee shop? What's that movie that jumps around, you know, it doesn't go in order?
The brain child of brilliant American film director Quentin Tarantino, Pulp Fiction was a long planned series of stories traded back and forth between himself and friend Roger Avary from their days working together in a video store in Los Angeles. A long time coming, Tarantino sold his first two scripts (Natural Born Killers and True Romance) and directed his first film (Reservoir Dogs) on a barebones budget just to get his name recognized in the business. The years of hard work paid off as Pulp Fiction took home not only an Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay in 1994 but also the acclaimed Palme d'Or Award at the Cannes Film Festival. Boasting an ensemble cast which verily resembles to this day a Who's Who of Hollywood Pulp Fiction was an instant cult classic after commanding more than modest box office success.
More important than any awards the film won, Pulp Fiction marked the coming of age for the versatile actor/writer/director Tarantino. It was a crucial film in that it set up a world from which Tarantino could freely cite. As is the ultimate goal of any true writer, Tarantino became a self-referencing artist with the coming of Pulp Fiction. There are the little details of course, such as the appearance of a Big Kahuna Burger in Reservoir Dogs and then again later in From Dusk Til Dawn, or the Jack Rabbit Slim's radio commercial that plays in the background of the same film. There is the recycling of common characters in his films (a bystander shot in Pulp Fiction after an accident is the same bystander who is victim of a carjacking in Resevoir Dogs, Vincent Vega is the brother of Vic Vega from Reservoir Dogs and was created due to a scheduling conflict from Michael Madsen). Ultimately the self-referencing of Tarantino, though intricately accomplished through common characters, is through the style of his work's narration.
The style of Pulp Fiction is unconventional, to be polite about it. Told in a roaming third person singular the non-linear tale jumps back and forth between four separate, but at the same time essentially interwoven, storylines. Tarantino, in addition to the out of sequence narration, also brought about many personal flairs to the filming of his masterpiece. By creating unique shots including character points of view, most notably from inside the occasional car trunk, emphasizing doorway dialogue by having doorframes play a large role in character blocking, and rekindling the "long shot" (a dialogue coupled with one character following another about, walking down a corridor for instance) Tarantino began to cull a style that was all his own. He would take to future films a stressed importance of feet (Uma Thurman was barefoot throughout most of Pulp Fiction) and of course the product placement of Red Apple Cigarettes whenever possible.
Taking us by the hand and leading us through a shady underground of mob bosses, hitmen, and robbers, Tarantino's film was the quintessential film of the early 90's period. Breaking new ground in storytelling, Tarantino was able to combine classic methods of themes and repitition with uniquely creative narrative skills to give birth to an unforgetable film as well as an unforgetable career of directing.
Directed by Quentin Tarantino
Stories written by Quentin Tarantino & Roger Avary
Screenplay written by Quentin Tarantino
Tim Roth as Pumpkin
Amanda Plummer as Honey Bunny
Samuel L. Jackson as Jules Winnfield
John Travolta as Vincent Vega
Frank Whaley as Brett
Paul Calderon as Paul
Ving Rhames as Marsellus Wallace
Bruce Willis as Butch Coolidge
Eric Stoltz as Lance
Rosanna Arquette as Jody
Uma Thurman as Mrs. Mia Wallace
Christopher Walken as Captain Koons
Angela Jones as Esmeralda Villalobos
Maria de Medeiros as Fabienne
Harvey Keitel as Winston Wolf
- "Misirlou" by Dick Dale & His Del-Tones
- "Jungle Boogie" by Kool and the Gang
- "Let's Stay Together" by Al Green
- "Bustin' Surfboards" by The Tornadoes
- "Lonesome Town" by Ricky Nelson
- "Son of a Preacher Man" by Dusty Springfield
- "Bullwinkle Part II" by The Centurians
- "You Never Can Tell" by Chuck Berry
- "Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon" by Urge Overkill
- "If Love is a Red Dress (Hang Me in Rags)" by Maria McKee
- "Comanche" by The Revels
- "Flowers on the Wall" by The Statler Brothers
- "Surf Rider" by The Lively Ones
1. Prologue ("I love you, Pumpkin." "I love you too, Honey Bunny.")
2. Opening Credits: Misirlou
3. "Royale with cheese." 4. Ezekiel 25:17
5. "Boxers don't have an Old Timers' Day."
6. "All of my piercing, 18 places on my body - every one done with a needle."
7. Son of a Preacher Man 10. Girl, You'll Be a Woman Soon
8. Jack Rabbit Slim's 11. ...Adrenaline...
9. You Never Can Tell 12. Captain Koons' Story
13. "I'm an American, honey. Our names don't mean shit."
14. "I wish I had a pot." 19. "I'm going to get medieval on your ass."
15. "Where's my watch?" 20. "Zed's dead baby, Zed's dead."
16. Poptarts 21. "Do you know what divine
17. Flowers on the Wall intervention means?"
18. "Bring out the gimp." 22. "I just shot Marvin in the face."
23. "If Bonnie comes home and finds a dead body
in her house, I'm gonna get divorced."
24. "I'm Winston Wolf. I solve problems."
25. Epilogue ("I'm trying real hard to be the Shepherd.")
26. End Credits
Running time ~154 minutes
Film by Miramax Home Entertainment
Film distributed by Buena Vista Home Entertainment, Inc
This section will attempt to provide answers to any nagging questions which will surely remain after a first time viewing of the film. Namely, the questions concerning the briefcase contents, recurring themes, and just what's going on with Vincent Vega.
Q: Ok, I'll bite. What's in that briefcase Jules and Vincent tote all over town?
A: A 20 watt lightbulb hooked up to a battery. Boring, eh? Initial script called for the briefcase to be filled with diamonds, but both Tarantino and Avery hated that idea the more they thought about it. One thought among Pulp Fiction fans is that the briefcase contains Marsellus Wallace's soul which had been earlier extracted through a hole in the back of his head. Wallace's evil nature would explain why the combination of the briefcase is "666." In interviews following the release of the movie Tarantino played the tease and told audiences that the briefcase contains "whatever they wanted it to be."
Q: Oh, I'm glad you mentioned that about Wallace. Why the band-aid on the back of his neck?
A: Officially Tarantino thought a scar on the neck of Ving Rhames would attract too much attention in certain scenes where he is talking facing away from the camera. Why he chose to cover the scar with something which could only draw more attention to the area is unknown.
Q: Ok, you promised themes before... what are some of the themes in this movie?
A: A big one is characters being interrupted. Most occurances are documented in that node. As for why Tarantino included this I would speculate that he was trying to give the film an aura of "real." Too often you will watch a movie in which nobody ever has any desire to eat food, drink water, or take the occasional bathroom break. By adding in this element of the character "doing something" it shows that they have lives and further cements the fourth wall of the film.
Q: Whoa. Neat. Any others?
A: Everytime Vincent goes to the bathroom bad things happen. The coffee shop robbery, Mia's overdose, Butch shooting him in the chest...
Q: Holy shit I can't believe I missed that! Wait... why Vincent?
A: Vincent Vega is the main character of Pulp Fiction.
Q: What? You're kidding, right? Where'd you come up with that?
A: Well shit, negro... who else would it be? Vincent Vega is the only character to have significant interaction with every other main character in the film. He's partners with Jules, he's tight with Mr. Marsellus Wallace and he took Mrs. Mia Wallace out on that disasterous date. Lance is Vince's drug-man and there's definite bad blood between Vincent and Butch. So bad that Butch keys Vince's car after leaving Wallace's bar (we see Butch jiggle his keys walking out of the bar and Vincent complains about his car being keyed to Lance when picking up a baggie).
Q: Okay, that does make sense I guess. Anything else cool I may have missed?
A: Of course there was. I'll tell you a few more things about Vincent, but then I gotta go. Here it is: In a deleted scene Mia explains to Vincent that everybody is an Elvis fan, or a Beatles fan. This is why she remarks that an Elvis man would love Jack Rabbit Slim's. Once in the restaurant Vincent and Mia call each other cowboy and cowgirl as if they were familiar friends and not meeting for the first time... this was ad-libbed by Thurman and Travolta in references to earlier roles for both actors. Finally, Vincent's book. He reads it in the bathroom and carries it out of the coffeeshop during the film's close. The book is "Modesty Blaise" and contains, of all the crazy things, the story of a ruthless killer who indulges in biblical rants before killing his victims, much like a certain Jules Winnfield.
Collectors' Edition DVD
Dozens of viewings of the movie