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Pulp Fiction

Film Review #1

Pulp Fiction (1994)

Based around the lives of several ‘gangsters’, Pulp Fiction is a unique film, following the lives of various characters who are seemingly unlinked yet often cross each others’ paths, viewing their similar lifestyles through each of their own perspectives. The non-linear storyline, pop music and large use of violence are three traits often associated with Quentin Tarantino and the three certainly serve up a creative and extremely enjoyable film in Pulp Fiction.

*Review contains spoilers*

After watching Pulp Fiction it might leave you confused at a bizarre story containing what may seem filled with unneeded sub-plots , but it’s the bizarre and unusual way in which the story is constructed that makes for such an interesting storyline and makes Pulp Fiction the great film that it is. One way of looking at the plot is that of luck, a factor that appears to largely affect the lives of the characters involved such as Vincent’s death and Marsellus and Butch’s fight/rape, not only bad luck but also good luck such as Vincent’s and Jules lucky escape from six bullets and Jules’ decision not to kill Pumpkin and Honey Bunny. It’s this luck however and the events of the film that allows us to see each characters way of thinking, how they see their lifestyles as acceptable when living as criminals.

The star actor is John Travolta as Vincent Vega in a role that revitalised his career, he plays a man who despite being the ‘main character’ gets killed off seemingly early on in the film (although appears in the final scenes that took place prior to his death due to the on-linear story) showing Tarantino’s willingness to kill off key characters as seen before in Reservoir Dogs, this uncertainty that comes with many twists throughout attributes to an unpredictable story.

The film has a number of important themes that are maintained in many of its chapters, on the way tackling a number of personal issues and moral decisions made by the characters such as Vincent’s decision whether to sleep with Mia Wallace, questioning his loyalty to his boss Marsellus Wallace. The ‘Gold Watch’ chapter features another key theme of the movie, pride as well honour which can be seen mainly through the character Butch, portrayed by Bruce Willis. When Butch is asked to lose his final fight he refuses, unwilling to sacrifice his pride at the request of his ruthless boss, killing a man in the process. This pride for Butch can be seen in the way he holds his father’s gold watch in high regard with him willing to take extreme risks to rescue this item as he attempts to avoid his former colleagues. Despite being perfectly fine with killing a man Butch shows just how much he values a man’s pride and dignity when he decides to eventually rescue his boss Marsellus Wallace (a man who tried to kill him) from being raped after a series of rather unfortunate events.

The films main focus is on the duo of Vincent and Jules who is portrayed by Samuel L. Jackson, a man who takes the decision to retire from the criminal lifestyle following an act of ‘God’s divine intervention’, this is when we begin to see the characters personality and personal beliefs. At the start of the film we see the cold-hearted Jules, killing two men whilst reading out a revised chapter from the bible, Ezekiel 25:17 (Probably the second best Jackson quote behind ‘Snakes on a Plane’, of course), he reveals later that this reading had no meaning to it originally and it is not until after somehow surviving being shot that Jules appreciates his life differently, he sits in the restaurant explaining his views on the eating of Bacon before events lead to him considering a different version of his bible passage that he now realises may have a more important meaning to it. Vince Vega on the other hand seems very ignorant of the way he lives his life, murdering people and taking drugs with him calling for the death of the ‘criminal who keyed his car’, a somewhat ironic and hypocritical quote.

Mia Wallace, portrayed by Uma Thurman is the wife of Marsellus and her main role in the film brings a mysterious feel, the film begins with a discussion between Vincent and Jules about her husband who had allegedly pushed a man off a building for giving her a foot massage but we begin to get a better perspective of her character as she acts as the centre point of the majority of the first half of the film when we see her spend time with Vincent Vega who ends up being tested morally as we see him thinking over whether he should sleep with Mia Wallace and betray his boss or not.

Pulp Fiction wouldn’t be what it is without its ‘meaningless’ scenes such as Jules and Vincent’s discussion regarding ‘The Royale with Cheese’, although these conversations do not serve much purpose and don’t act as a way to advance the plot they are what make Tarantino’s films so enjoyable, the superb dialogue makes Pulp Fiction what it is as we seeh umorous yet perfectly normal conversations betweens the films characters who are ‘normal’ people. Another much talked about plot device is the ‘MacGuffin’ created by Tarantino’s decision to leave the briefcase’s contents unknown, allowing it’s contents to be ‘whatever the viewer wants them to be’. The film uses a whole host of unique creative techniques to achieve a masterpiece instead of following a standard style story filled with clichéd and predictable plot devices and twists that we have come to expect from many films. Tarantino is widely regarded as one of the best film modern film directors. Pulp Fiction is in my (and the majority of other people’s) opinion his best film so far, it is a combination of everything I love about the director, a film created that combines many traits that we now associate with him, Pulp Fiction is perhaps one of the most enjoyable films I have ever seen and although their may be films that better it, if I had to pick one film to watch at any time then this would be it.