It has been about 2 months since I last wrote one of these, so I thought why not start again with one of the greatest films ever? Pulp Fiction is the second film directed by Quentin Tarantino following his debut with Reservoir Dogs, and it principally follows the interlocking stories of a gangster, Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames, Con Air), his wife Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman, Kill Bill), the two hit men Jules Winnifield (Samuel L. Jackson, Snakes on a Plane) and Vincent Vega (John Travolta, Saturday Night Fever), and the corrupt boxer Butch Coolidge (Bruce Willis, Die Hard).
The best thing about all of these plot lines is that are presented in a non-linear way, allowing the viewer to stitch it all together chronologically afterwards. Each “story” is so varied, full of black humour and insanely quotable dialogue. The script is easily the best thing about Pulp Fiction, so the co-writer Roger Avary deserves just as much credit as Tarantino. I challenge anyone to not have a favourite scene or quote after watching the film; out of interest, mine is the Jules’ epic bible speech.
The actors’ deliveries make the words come alive, with none of the huge ensemble cast doing a bad job. But easily the two most memorable performances come from Jackson and Jules, who dominate the screen every time they appear. The way they bounce off each other is electric, and are a clear example of how even the most mundane exchanges (such as hamburgers and foot massages) can be made enthralling, when the right script is combined with the right actor.
The scope of topics presented in the film is huge: varying from religion to corruption, and drugs to rape. So, this isn’t a film for the faint hearted, especially considering the copious amount of blood, violence and swearing, but Pulp Fiction is all the better for it. I often found myself laughing out loud at moments that in any other film would have been considered appropriate, but the film is fully aware of its darkly comedic tone.
The soundtrack is something that gets you from the start, because of the explosive opening of an electric guitar version of Misirlou (that was shamelessly used by the Black Eyed Peas) mixed with Kool and the Gang. It doesn’t let up, featuring the appropriate songs of Neil Diamond and Dusty Springfield.
Pulp Fiction isn’t just a film, it is an experience. Not only did it influence the definition of cinema, it influenced the definition of culture, and as one of the most quoted films ever, I thought it would be a good idea to end on one: “And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who would attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee.”