In 1994, Quentin Tarantino etched his name in history because of this work. Although he has made only six films in his career, this is his best. It took as late as 1994 to come up with this concept of integrating non-linear narrative into the crime genre. This movie won the Palme D’Or at Cannes and won Best Screenplay at the Oscars. It rebooted John Travolta’s career. It’s soundtrack will never be forgotten, with classic pop culture songs. I’m just crazy about this movie. It’s Pulp Fiction.
Pulp Fiction is divided into three main stories, like how Tarantino usually does things. These stories are divided very cleverly in a non-linear narrative so that one story connects to the next in one or two scenes. This becomes an entanglement that weaves a web around its characters. The first story is about Vincent Vega (John Travolta) taking his boss’s (Ving Rhames) wife, Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman) to dinner and what happens that night. The second story is about Butch Coolidge (Bruce Willis), going to retrieve his prized gold watch after beating the odds at a prizefighting match and what happens after. The third story is about Vincent and Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson) getting a case in the morning and a crazy situation that occurs after. The third story happens on the same day as the first and the second. The second continues into the next day.
Tarantino uses the non-linear narrative to introduce us to unknown characters (Pumpkin and Honey Bunny) and he brings them back in one of the stories. It’s novel and works because you get two sides of the same story. All the three stories are different, with different themes shown i.e. forgiveness, determination in the second, revelation and confusion in the third etc. These make the stories all the more powerful in this fantasy land of crime. The characters are extremely colorful like Jules, who believes in divine intervention, Winston Wolf, who is a businessman who can clean any mess, Vincent, who reads a lot and makes costly accidents. I won’t review each story, only the movie as a whole.
In the movie, dialog is a major factor. There are mostly bubble head scenes, with the camera at weird places (the back of Ving Rhames’ head for example). The dialog ranges from eating in France to walking the earth with a lot of explicits. We understand the characters, even though there are three stories, because of the dialog. Editing plays a really important part of the movie, what with the non-linear narrative and all, and with quick cuts, the movie moves at a pace that’s not too fast, but certainly not slow either. The soundtrack of this movie isn’t ordinary. It’s filled with pop culture songs of the 50’s, the 70’s but certainly not contemporary stuff.
This piece of noir is certainly watchable many times, and it’s a ride that’s so fun, you’ll never vomit. Kudos to Quentin Tarantino, the ex-video store clerk with a lot of imagination.