Quentin Tarantino's masterpiece crime drama, Pulp Fiction, truly is an amazing film. Like its namesake, the pulp magazines of the 50's, Pulp Fiction is graphic and violent, but it's much, much more than that. Tarantino beautifully weaves together three equally important, interconnected stories in telling this film, and it is excellent in countless ways.
First of all, this is all made possible by the acting expertise of John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Amanda Plummer, Maria de Medeiros, Ving Rhames, Eric Stoltz, Rosanna Arquette, Christopher Walken, and Bruce Willis. Overall, I thought this was one of the best-acted films I've ever seen, and not just because it's star-studded. I've seen a lot of these actors and actresses in other cinema, and they all seem to be at their best in this film. For instance, Bruce Willis is laughable in Live Free or Die Hard, but he delivers an excellent, nuanced performance in Pulp Fiction.
Samuel L. Jackson also impressed me with an unforgettable portrayal of the conflicted gangster Jules Winnfield. John Travolta memorably represents his partner in crime, Vincent Vega, as well. My favorite character in this film might be Uma Thurman's, though. She plays the part of Mia Wallace, the wife of Jules and Vincents' intimidating boss Marsellus. Although I'll always remember Uma Thurman as "The Bride" of Kill Bill- I didn't even recognize her at first- I found this to be an intriguing and well-acted supporting role for her.
Of course, as in all of Tarantino's films, the editing and cinematography help set Pulp Fiction apart. While not as stylized as Kill Bill or Sin City, I still thought the camera angles, filming techniques, and shot selection was superb. One interesting camera technique used was the extreme close-up. A scene in which this was used was when Vincent injected heroin into himself, a la Requiem for a Dream. Another interesting shot was a very simple one. Many of the lengthy, humorous discussions between Vincent and Jules have few cuts, slowing the film down and emphasizing the dialogue, which is perhaps the best part of the whole film. This reminds me of Tim Burton's Beetlejuice, also somewhat of a dark comedy. Furthermore, I thought the "trunk shot," when the camera looks up at Vincent and Jules from the trunk was interesting, although I've seen it in other movies of his. Finally, when Butch (Bruce Willis) has a flashback to the day he received his prized golden watch- which has a very funny back-story- from Captain Koons (Christopher Walken), Walken's character is shown from the young Butch's sitting position, thus making him appear very large and putting the viewer in the mindset of the child.
Although this is a very unique film, I was able to make a lot of comparisons from it and could see where Tarantino got his inspiration for a lot of scenes. For one, the scene in which Marsellus sees Butch leaving town in his car while crossing the street is very similar to a scene in Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho. Soon afterward, Butch saves Marsellus from the sadistic rapists Maynard and Zed in a scene that obviously draws inspiration from Deliverance. In searching for a weapon, he goes through a hammer, baseball bat, and chainsaw (Texas Chainsaw Massacre) before choosing a more honorable weapon: the katana (Seven Samurai). Ironically, all of these weapons are at the counter of the store he and Marsellus were imprisoned in. There are countless other homage and memorable scenes in this film, but some of them escape me, and I couldn't say all there is to say about Pulp Fiction without it turning into a dissertation.
Personally, I think everybody needs to see this movie to be a cultured person and understand film. It's a terrific example of nonlinear storyline that forces the viewers to piece together the story by themselves and provides a unique form of storytelling, the acting is world-class, and almost every scene is powerful and memorable. While it may not be conventional or easy to understand, I think it's still an enjoyable film. I expected more of a stylized bloodbath from what I'd heard about it and the other Tarantino films I'd seen. There's nothing wrong with films like that, and many people- myself included- find them very enjoyable, but this is not primarily an action movie; the action isn't particularly compelling outside of its role in the story. Pulp Fiction actually drags on at times, as it does span almost three hours. For those who want a great action movie, Hard Boiled or Tarantino's own Kill Bill might be more appealing choices, but this film is just as good. It's a crime drama, but I wouldn't especially recommend it to crime drama aficionados because it's nothing like your average crime drama. It's easy to compare to other films piece by piece but impossible to find a film that really matches up to it as a whole. Simply put, Pulp Fiction is a phenomenal film.
BibliographyPulp FictionKill BillSin CitySeven SamuraiRequiem for a DreamTexas Chainsaw MassacreHard Boiledwww.imdb.comen.wikipedia.org/pulpfictionNote that this essay was for Video Production, an elective, and the writing was therefore graded extremely easily and did not require a bibliography.