#6 “Pulp Fiction”
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Screenplay: Quentin Tarantino, Roger Avary
Stars: John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, Bruce Willis, Ving Rhames, and Christopher Walken
Original Release Date: 14 October 1994
Oscars: 1 (Best Original Screenplay), 6 other nominations
Critics and Users
Rotten Tomatoes: 94% Berardinelli: 4.0 stars, #81 all Time
Metacritic: 9.0 Ebert: 4.0 stars, #3 of the 90s
IMDB Top 250: #5
The key to the triumph, legend and longevity of Pulp Fiction lies in the dialogue. Note the second scene. Vincent (John Travolta) and Jules (Samuel L. Jackson) are mid level hit men on their way to do a job. And its just that to them, a job. So as they prepare, they chat, they gossip about other gangsters (co-workers), hash bars and Quarter Pounders. You see, this is what people do when they are at work. Small talk. Never do the characters talk about what they are going to do, or why. The script is far to clever and releases information only as the natural dialogue of the characters allows.
Pulp Fiction is pure fun and entertainment. It is, at the exact same time, violent and disturbing. Only Mr. Tarantino can pull that off. Upon its release in 1994, the movie was almost instantly launched into mythical status for its violence. Roger Ebert said “I have either seen the best or the worst movie of the year”. Its that kind of film. Like or dislike it, it will invoke a strong response.
Its reputation for violence is unfounded, especially by today’s standards and much of the violence is inferred or takes place off screen. For example, when Butch kills Maynard, we get gory sound effects but do not see what is happening.
Pulp Fiction is most famous however for its non-linear story. Telling three separate tales to their completion but not in an overlapping linear fashion. The three tales all end in redemption for their main characters (Jules, Vincent and Butch) but the way the events fold out, if you watched chronologically, it would not have the same effect.
The prose in this film is witty and clever. It invokes laughs but does not ask for them. It overlays incredible seriousness with cheekiness. From his entrance, Harvey Keitel’s Winston Wolf has a serious matter at hand. Dispose of a body, clean up a blood soaked car and two blood drenched gangsters , dispose of the car and the body, all in 40 minutes before Jimmie’s wife gets home for work. The dialogue is painfully funny because this entire time, this crew of murderers and gangsters find their common fear: the wrath of a woman.
Could anyone in the movies, living or dead, portray Captain Koons and give the speech on the history of the gold watch any better than Christopher Walken. I think not. And if you doubt that Bruce Willis can act, then give this film a second look.
Legendary Rolling Stone film critic Peter Travers said “Do you self a favour with Pulp Fiction. Don’t just watch, listen”. That is some good advice. It’s a movie of relentless action made for a paltry $8 million. It’s a rare achievement.
Pulp Fiction established QT as a force in film and revitalized several careers. Its as fresh an influential today as it was in first release 20 years ago. It stands today as one of the greatest films ever made.
Jules: “That is one tasty burger”
There are 265 F-bombs in this film with a 153 minute run time.
Chronologically, the last line of the film is Butch saying “Zed’s dead baby. Zed’s dead”.
The movie never mentions what is in Marsellus Wallace’s briefcase. The screenplay originally had it full of diamonds but writers QT and Roger Avary felt that this was too mundane. They left it up to the viewer’s imagination.
The t-shirt given to Jules by Jimmie to wear is from the UC Santa Cruz Banana Slugs.
Mickey Rourke passed on the role of Butch. Daniel Day Lewis was turned down for Vincent. Jules wa written specifically for Samuel L. Jackson.
Something bad happens in this film every time Vincent Goes to the washroom.