Cert: 18 Runtime: 154 mins Director: Quentin Tarantino Cast: John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, Bruce Willis, Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth
The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the iniquities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother’s keeper and the finder of lost children. 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.
This is the first Quentin Tarantino film I ever watched as a kid and it definitely wasn’t the last either. This utter random film has become one of the greatest pieces of film ever to have graced the cinema. Jules Winnfield (Samuel L. Jackson) and Vincent Vega (John Travolta) are two hitmen who are out to retrieve a suitcase stolen from their employer, mob boss Marsellus Wallace. Wallace has also asked Vincent to take his wife Mia (Uma Thurman) out a few days later when Wallace himself will be out of town. Butch Coolidge (Bruce Willis) is an aging boxer who is paid by Wallace to lose his next fight. The lives of these seemingly unrelated people are woven together comprising of a series of funny, bizarre and uncalled-for incidents. This is the simplest way I can explain the plot of the film.
If you have never seen Pulp Fiction what is wrong with you ? One of the early scenes in “Pulp Fiction” features two hit-men discussing what a Big Mac is called in other countries. Their dialogue is witty and entertaining, and it’s also disarming, because it makes these two thugs seem all too normal. If you didn’t know better, you might assume these were regular guys having chit-chat on their way to work. Other than the comic payoff at the end of the scene, in which they use parts of this conversation to taunt their victims, their talk has no relevance to anything in the film, or to anything else, for that matter. Yet without such scenes, “Pulp Fiction” wouldn’t be “Pulp Fiction.” I get the sense that Tarantino put into the film whatever struck his fancy, and somehow the final product is not only coherent but wonderfully textured. The movie becomes a bit easier to understand once you realize that it’s essentially a black comedy dressed up as a crime drama. Each of the three main story threads begins with a situation that could easily form the subplot of any standard gangster movie. But something always goes wrong, some small unexpected accident that causes the whole situation to come tumbling down, leading the increasingly desperate characters to absurd measures. Tarantino’s originality stems from his ability to focus on small details and follow them where they lead, even if they move the story away from conventional plot developments.
What is the movie’s purpose exactly? I’m not sure, but it does deal a lot with the theme of power. Marsellus is the sort of character who looms over the entire film while being invisible most of the time. The whole point of the big date sequence, which happens to be my favorite section of the film, is the power that Marsellus has over his men without even being present. This power is what gets Vincent to act in ways you would not ordinarily expect from a dumb, stoned gangster faced with an attractive woman whose husband has gone away. The power theme also helps explain one of the more controversial aspects of the film, its liberal use of the N-word. In this film, the word isn’t just used as an epithet to describe blacks: Jules, for instance, at one point applies the term to Vincent. It has more to do with power than with race. The powerful characters utter the word to express their dominance over weaker characters. Most of these gangsters are not racist in practice. Indeed, they are intermingled racially, and have achieved a level of equality that surpasses the habits of many law-abiding citizens in our society. They resort to racial epithets because it’s a patter that establishes their separateness from the non-criminal world. The casting is also perfect, there is no weak link in Pulp Fiction. Tarantino writes roles for specific actors and he has chosen many through his process. Travolta at the time was washed up actor this was truly his come back to the big screen, Jackson as always is amazing and my favorite character. Uma Thurman is also amazing, she has been QT’s muse for years and truly her best performance on screen. If you haven’t heard the Sound Track please do, it is the best ST you will here for a film. Utter classic of a film, not afraid to be risky at all.