Throughout the long history of cinema, there have been films that have had such a profound impact on the world of filmmaking that changed how everyone looks at and expects films to accomplish. Films that have dared to be creative and inventive. Films that, without which, one would find it hard to think of how the art of movie-making would have progressed at such a rapid pace. One of those films is, without a question, Pulp Fiction.
Pulp Fiction is the second film directed by the legendary Quentin Tarantino and stars Samuel L. Jackson, John Travolta, Uma Thurman, Bruce Willis, Tim Roth, and Ving Rhames. The film tells four interconnected stories involving a gangster’s wife, two hit men, a boxer and a couple looking to rob a restaurant. Pulp Fiction is a crime thriller and runs for nearly three hours.
Pulp Fiction would not have reached its current status as one of cinema’s greatest motion pictures had it not been for the genius mind and vision of its director and writer, Quentin Tarantino. What he has done in Pulp Fiction is simply remarkable.
Starting with his script, Quentin Tarantino created countless scenes that are now iconic. It was the first film of his where the dialogue was one of the main ‘stars’ of the film. A couple of scenes spring to mind. There is one where Jules (Samuel L. Jackson) and Vincent (John Travolta) debate the intimacy-level of foot massages and discuss how hamburgers are given unconventional names in France. Such scenes work because they are so strange and weird. Yet, they are hypnotic thanks to not only the superb delivery of the actors but also Tarantino’s script which keeps things fresh and surprising in every single scene. A remarkable achievement.
Having four interconnected stories in one film usually results in a massive mess. Not here. Tarantino expertly paces the film, mixing and matching the four stories smoothly. His choice of soundtrack is also spot-on as he chooses a mix of rock, soul, and pop songs. They are all appropriate choices as they maximize the effect and enjoyment of each scene.
With Pulp Fiction, Tarantino announced his arrival as a maverick director. Here, he displays all his trademarks that would be used in his later work, creating more film classics along the way. He is one of my all-time favorite directors and one whose films I will never get enough of.
Another crucial element that plays a big role in the film’s success is the superb ensemble cast. The three main performances that I find most amazing are those delivered by Samuel L. Jackson (Jules), John Travolta (Vincent), and Uma Thurman (Mia).
Pulp Fiction is considered by many as Samuel L. Jackson’s breakthrough film. Before this film, he was not that well-known but that all changed with this picture. He is one of the film’s best actors and gives the performance of a lifetime as Jules, the unrelenting gangster.
His most iconic scene in the film is that amazing one where his character Jules, along with his partner-in-crime Vincent (John Travolta), starts quoting a verse from the Bible, while wielding a gun pointed towards his terrified hostage. The verse speaks of how man should strive to help the weak and that those who oppose this will be punished. However, Jackson’s delivery of this verse gives its message a whole new dimension as his delivery is aggressive and threatening. It is a scene that is nothing short of outstanding no matter how many times one watches it.
Another actor who greatly benefitted from his performance in this film is John Travolta. The film announced the return of Travolta to the world of cinema after a long hiatus. He plays Vincent, Jules’s mob partner. What makes Travolta’s performance here superb is how natural he is in the role. The viewer does not doubt for a minute anything that Vinccent says or does. He is believable from the very first scene.
A favorite Vincent scene of mine in Pulp Fiction is that moment of total coolness in which he dances with Mia (Uma Thurman) on the dance floor of a 1950s-inspired restaurant. The scene is a mesmerizing one thanks to Travolta and Uma’s believable chemistry and how they totally immerse themselves in the dancing. There is just something about that scene that is so iconic and memorable.
Speaking of Uma Thurman, she is also fantastic in this picture. Playing the role of Mia Wallace, Uma gives her role an air of quirkiness and natural cool. She is absolutely great here and is another reason why this film is such great entertainment.
The previously mentioned scene with John Travolta showcases how comfortable Uma is in this role and how that is superbly transmitted to the viewer. It is one of my favorite Uma Thurman roles, a close second to her legendary work in the Kill Bill films, also directed by Quentin Tarantino.
It is also worth noting that the film features a number of memorable performances by Quentin Tarantino himself, Christopher Walken, and Bruce Willis.
Pulp Fiction is one of those films that leaves a mark on you long after the credits have rolled. I will never forget that first time I watched Pulp Fiction and was totally absorbed during the entirety of this motion picture. The combination of the confident directing, memorable acting, astonishing script and eccentric music all make this film one of a kind. It is Quentin Tarantino’s masterpiece and one that all his subsequent films owe a ton of gratitude to as it is the first film that truly showed his unique genius to the world. Quite simply, Pulp Fiction is a great film that I will continue to love and treasure for a very long time.
- Samuel L. Jackson (as Jules)
- John Travolta (as Vincent)
- Uma Thurman (as Mia Wallace)
2 hours and 34 minutes
Crime / Thriller