An Appreciation – Pulp Fiction

All the stories have the same basic layout, with characters interacting with one another in conversation, then suddenly being thrown into very intense and violent situations.  The first is that of Jules and Vincent who, after the incident at the hotel room, find themselves suddenly with a dead man in their car out in broad daylight, having to call on the help of their friend Jimmy (Quentin Tarantino) and The Wolf (Harvey Keitel) to help pull them out of their tight situation.  The next involves Vincent and Mia and their night together, which at first hints at a possible romantic situation, but then quickly turns bad when Mia overdoses on drugs, forcing Vincent to bring her to his drug dealer Lance (Eric Stoltz), ending with an intense moment involving an adrenaline shot.  Then you have Butch’s story with Marsellus Wallace, how Butch went back on his promise to the boss and is out on the run.  You would think Butch retrieving his watch from his apartment is harrowing enough, but his situation makes a complete left turn as Butch and Marsellus find themselves caught in the grips of red neck rapists, with Butch turning out, surprisingly, to be Marsellus’ rescuer.

Although all of the stories have their own intense moments, they are dissipated with both a lack of actual onscreen violence and with humorous dialogue.  For example, when Vincent brings Mia to Lance’s home, we find ourselves laughing at the dialogue they share as they argue over who should give Mia the adrenaline shot.  When she finally does receive it and awakens suddenly, the group’s reaction coupled with Mia’s confusion causes us to feel a sense of nervous relief.  Another funny moment is when we find Jules and Vincent in their car cleaning up the bloody remains of their former passenger.  Although they are surrounded and covered in blood, the argument they have is funny in the way it makes them look like an odd couple.  All of the violence in the film, with all the shootings and stabbings that take place, are more often than not actually off screen, so what we think is over the top is actually a result of our imagination filling in what is implied.

Another point of interest is the many questions that the film leaves with its viewer.  Most notable involves the contents of the famous briefcase.  We know that the briefcase once belonged to Marsellus Wallace and was taken from him.  Vincent and Jules go out to retrieve it, but for what purpose?  What is origin of the shiny glow that radiates from it, and why is the combination to open it 666?  Does it have something to do with the mysterious band-aid that is attached to the back of Marsellus Wallace’s neck?  And what about the “miracle” that Jules and Vincent were a part of?  There is a moment where a man shoots at them from point blank range, yet they are completely unharmed from it.  How can this be?  Jules feels that their safety is a result of divine intervention, yet Vincent feels it to be only a freak of nature moment.  Who is correct?

There is one thing I do know, and that is one of the major themes of the film is that of redemption.  All of the main characters that survive to the end of the film all end up with a chance to make their lives better.  For Butch, he could have easily left Marsellus Wallace at the hands of the red necks and their gimp slave, but he went back and saved him, resulting in a truce between the two men.  For the two café robbers Honey Bunny (Amanda Plummer) and Ringo (Tim Roth), their lives are spared at the end to give them the chance to go down a more prosperous road.  And then, there is hit man Jules.  To me, the theme of redemption revolves around Jules and the decisions that he makes in the movie.  He had spent much of his life being a worker for a gangster boss, killing whomever he was ordered to kill.  Right before he makes his next hit, he recites the now famous bible quote to his victim, yet he never quite knew the meaning behind it.  Only when he is amazingly saved from death does Jules look at himself more closely and his place in the world.  He knows that something like this doesn’t just happen; there is reasoning behind it.  It is because of that that Jules ends up doing what he does in that café at the end of the movie, it is his way of trying to repent for what he has done and live the rest of his life no longer the blind man.

Pulp Fiction contains countless scenes and moments that remain placed in our memory.  From the great dance sequence between Vincent and Mia to Christopher Walken’s monologue to Butch, the film doesn’t have one bad scene in it.  The characters are colorful and one of a kind, the dialogue effortlessly quotable, and the freeform style and structure not restrained by any rules, there are many things that make this movie great.  Quentin Tarantino was able to take the films that influenced him and create something wholly his own, in turn influencing a generation of young filmmakers after him.  It’s the kind of film where everything fell together just as it should have, and if Tarantino were to stop making movies today, this film alone would secure his place in cinema history.

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Allen is a moviegoer based out of Seattle, Washington. His hobbies include dancing, playing the guitar, and, of course, watching movies.

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