Considered to be Quentin Tarintino’s finest film to date, Pulp Fiction has since become an international cult favourite that still dominates the cinematic landscape to this day. Deliciously noir and darkly entertaining, the film chronicles the effects of living the high-life; peppered with drugs, alcohol, gambling and the odd foot massage.
“I want to do dance. I want to win. I want that trophy, so dance good” – Mia Wallace
Set in the United States, the action is based around the lives of a set of characters who couldn’t be more different. Bumbling criminals Yolanda and Ringo, aka – Pumpkin and Honeybunny – aka, Amanda Plummer and Tim Roth, are plotting their next ‘business’ venture; while the Wallace’s are a couple fuelled by money, extravagance and power, but scratch beneath the surface and you’ll find Mia (Uma Thurman) wife of Marselleus (Ving Rhames), an elegant yet bountiful display of a woman haunted by the incessant need to inhale drugs on a daily basis. Next up are Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson) and Vincent Vega (John Travolta), crimebusters and personal protectants of Marselleus; the men are often tasked to deal with his dirty work, such as paying weaponed visits to students who haven’t paid their rent or to those who have disrespected their master in some way – which doesn’t take a lot to do. On top of that, Mia is often handed to Vega in exchange for evenings of entertainment, drugs and the odd dance competition. Butch Coolidge (Bruce Willis) is a boxer, and after having been asked to purposely lose a fight in favour of his boss, Mr Wallace, the determined fighter isn’t ready to let his title slip; sending his already turbulent relationship with the dangerous gangster into further peril – and if that wasn’t enough, the unfortunate sportsman accidentally kills his opponent and wins the match he agreed to lose.
“That’s how you’re gonna beat ‘em Butch, they keep underestimating you” – Butch Coolidge
Presented in a non-chronological sequence, Pulp Fiction demonstrates Tarantino’s artistic strengths. Music, punchy dialogue and catastrophic events punctuate the film at various moments, maintaining its witty charm and chaotic sequence.
As far as films go, not all involve numerous shootings, blood-soaked cars, dance competitions and a small moustached man declaring his useful qualities at every opportunity. But then again, not every movie has a Winston Wolfe (Harvey Keitel), and not every movie has two hitmen who feel more emotion towards their car interior than that for a deceased man lying all over it.
“If my answers frighten you then you should cease asking scary questions” – Jules Winnfield
Pulp Fiction has earned its status due to its dark, twisted and immeasurably successful title. It’s dark, deliciously entertaining, wickedly powerful and acidic in comedic effect. It makes you snigger at events that shouldn’t be sniggered at, unleashes humour where humour doesn’t belong and it presents violence as an acceptable means of dealing with those we don’t like.
If you’ve never watched this 1994 classic, I’d recommend you do so. Admittedly, it’s an acquired taste; but if you have it, then Pulp Fiction will prove to be a delightful addition to your personal film repertoire. It’s certainly one for those who indulge in classics and find the odd bit of blood and dark humour mildly acceptable, even if it’s not the most comfortable of viewing.
Words by Paige Bradshaw