Movie Review: Pulp Fiction

Pulp Fiction

I don’t want to colour the rest of the review with this statement but I’d like to say that this movie is a cinematic gem, and while personally I am not a fan of Quentin Tarantino, he knows how to make an engaging film. As I just said, Quentin Tarantino is not my favourite person but I do like that he’s clearly as much a fan as the rest of us, not necessarily of his own films, I’m not trying to suggest he is a narcissist, but rather you can see what he is a fan of in his movies and that feels really genuine.

Pulp Fiction follows respectively the lives of two mob hit men, a boxer, a gangster’s wife and a pair of diner bandits whose stories all intertwine in four distinct tales of violence and redemption.

I touched on this above, but Tarantino isn’t shy about showing his influences, a scene which demonstrates this is the dance scene in Jack Rabbit Slims which Tarantino took shot for shot from the Jean-Luc Godard film ‘Bande a Part’, going even further as to name his production company after the movie. He also took a portion of the biblical quote Jules is fond of saying from the Sonny Chiba film Karate Kiba. 

I don’t know how many other people never caught the reference about the milkshakes but it always bugged me. Now I admit that a quick google search could have cleared things up but I am by nature lazy so It was only when I was doing research for this film that I found out that in the dinner when Mia orders her $5 shake the waiter played by Steve Buscemi asks her if she wants it “Martin and Lewis or Amos and Andy?” He is referring to two comedy duos – Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis who are two white men and Amos and Andy who are two black men. Basically, he is asking her if she wants a vanilla shake or a chocolate shake.

Let’s talk about casting for a moment, and how this film could have been very different, for a start we almost missed out on Uma Thurman as Mia Wallace. In fact she initially turned down the role, but Tarantino was so desperate for her to take it that he ended up reading her the script over the phone, which finally convinced her to take the role. Another role that could have changed the whole movie, Butch Coolidge was initially supposed to be played by Mickey Rourke, but he turned it down to continue his real life boxing career. Interestingly enough in a very Mr Wolf style fashion, Harvey Keitel actually secured the role for Bruce Willis, which reinvigorated Bruce’s career, and due to being offered a cut of the film in exchange for an upfront pay cut, he has since made a killing from this one role, that he almost didn’t get.

Now I would like to address some theories which have popped up over the years the first of which has been more or less debunked, and the other has been left open to interpretation. Okay, the first is the idea that the band aid on the back of Marcellus Wallace’s heados alluding to the fact he has had his soul taken by the devil. As the story apparently goes, the devil removes souls via the back of the head in just about the same spot as the band aid. However, for better or worse, depending on your point of view, Tarantino has officially stated that the band aid had nothing to do with the devil and offered the far more mundane explanation that Ving Rhames, the actor playing Marcellus had a scar on the back of his neck which he wanted to cover up.

Another theory, which has more support, is that the briefcase contains diamonds, Roger Avery, who co-wrote the script with Quentin Tarantino, stated this was in fact the original plan. However despite being more or less confirmed by Avery, Tarantino, ever the creative, when asked just provides the standard line that the actual contents of the briefcase are whatever you want them to be as he felt diamonds were neither exciting or original. An additional aspect of this theory, but far more in the realm of urban legend is the idea that the diamonds were the same ones stolen during Reservoir Dogs.

While I am talking about theories, I have my own theory of sorts. I think something bad happened to Tarantino while he was in the bathroom, maybe someone ate some of his food (something that Tarantino makes a point of having various characters do in his movies). Whatever the cause, it seems at least in Tarantino’s mind that a visit to the bathroom spells disaster. I mean just look at the movie, each time that Vincent Vega (John Travolta) goes to the bathroom (always with a ‘pulp fiction’ book to read) something bad happens, such as Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman) overdosing, Ringo/Pumpkin (Tim Roth) and Yolanda/Honey Bunny (Amanda Plummer) robbing the diner and Butch picking up the gun. Each of these incidents followed a visit by Vince to the bathroom, with the last one obviously leading to his death. So what happened to Tarantino and why is he afraid of bathrooms. Sidenote to this theory, someone online came up with the valid theory, that the reason Vince goes to the bathroom so much is because a side effect of heroin abuse is constipation.

So I feel like in this review I talked more about things relating to the movie, rather than the actually movie, but that’s because it’s hard to cover new ground with a movie that over 25 years old, so Instead I wanted to discuss things about the movie that interested me. I will round off the review by saying that even after all this time the film is incredibly entertaining, and well worth a watch, especially if you somehow missed it, and because of all that I will give it a 8/10.


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