Quentin Tarantino’s film “Pulp Fiction” in a couple of years will celebrate its first solid anniversary: a quarter of a century. For a person, 25 years is youth, for a film, maturity. The status of a cult film received immediately. As it appeared on the screens in 1994, it took root at the top of popularity, weighed down by enthusiastic fans, as well as sincerely perplexed opponents. Some people throw caps into the air with screams: “Bravo-bravo, the film of the century!”, Others don’t understand why a movie about criminals is so honored. What is the honor for? And for innovation. For being unusual. For the hand of the demiurge, felt in every frame.
Why Tarantino started playing with time
The composition of the film is not trivial. Strange, to say the least. No classical expositions, ties, climaxes, denouements. No chronology. Several stories united by one hero. Killed, however, somewhere in the middle of the tape, but again appearing in the frame – like a devil out of a box. The story is non-linear!
Some consumers of the cinematic product were unhappy with Quentin’s freehand treatment of our Tarantino over time. They took it, and with a slight movement of the hand changed the episodes of the film in places in order to put them in order. For example, in Saudi Arabia, all stories were recut in chronological order.
This is what the chronological sequence looks like:
- Vincent and Jules deal with the boys who have appropriated the boss’s suitcase.
- “The Bonnie Situation” – the elimination of the bloody consequences of the showdown.
- Robbery in a cafe (both parts of the episode, which looped the film in the original, are connected).
- “Vincent Vega and the Wife of Marsellus Wallace”.
- “Golden Watch”.
Did the distributors have the right to brazenly shuffle episodes? And do distributors have the right to rename films, while disastrously distorting the meaning? The film of the same Tarantino called Death Proof, which translates as “death-resistant”, suddenly received a strange name at the Russian box office: “Proof of Death”. “What is your evidence?” – I just want to repeat after the hero of another famous film.
And how do you like the Italians, in their version of “Reservoir Dogs” of the long-suffering Tarantino, who launched slow-motion (slow motion) of the appearance of gangsters at the beginning of the film in the usual rhythm?!Is it permissible to spoil someone else’s work? Is copyright in this case just words? Since this happens with impunity, then the question is rhetorical.
Let us return, however, to reading matter. Tarantino’s idea was based on non-linear composition.
The original film is arranged like this:
- The first part of the roadside cafe robbery.
- Vincent and Jules go to get the suitcase.
- “Vincent Vega and the Wife of Marsellus Wallace”.
- “Golden Watch” – the story of the boxer Butch.
- “The Bonnie Situation”.
- Completion of the robbery in the diner.
What is characteristic: only three parts are titled by the author, others were left without titles.
So why does the director jump from fragment to fragment, ignoring the real passage of time? Again, the question is rhetorical. Because he wants to. Because with his own money he decided to make a movie that would become his hallmark. First, he composed an episode about the adventures of the wife of the chief of gangsters, Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman) and his subordinate, the hired killer Vincent Vega (John Travolta). Then he came up with another story, then a third … And, like puzzles, he put all the stories together in random order.
Actually, this is a record. In another Tarantino film, there are 2 fewer obscene words: in Reservoir Dogs there are 269 phrases from the arsenal of obscene vocabulary. You can even make a mini-version of the film with soundtrack exclusively from curses, which enthusiasts did.
Forward to the future, or when does the film take place?
Remember the watch that Butch’s father hid for 5 years … er … in a secluded hole in the body, and his colleague, who took over the baton of ingenious storage for two years, brought it to the son of a deceased war veteran?
We consider. The Vietnam War for the Americans began in 1965 and ended in 1973. This means that a veteran was captured until a maximum of 1973. The boy during the visit of Captain Kunz (Christopher Walken) is 5-7 years old, maximum 9. The hero of Bruce Willis, when the viewer meets him, is 39 years old (the actor was so old, Butch looks like that for these years). If in 1973 a boy is 5-7-9 years old, then in three decades what year will come? That’s right, 2003. And the film was shot in 1994. These are the games with time.
True, the news that Matt Dillon, younger than Bruce Willis, was originally planned for the role of Butch Coolidge, refutes the infernality of previous conclusions. They took an older actor, but did not make any adjustments to the script. Happens.
Everything good in me I owe to books, or What Vincent Vega reads
Who came up with this idea that reading ennobles? Vince, the killer, does not part with a paperback book when he visits the closet. This opus exists in reality: Peter O’Donnell wrote the novel Modesty Blaze about a female secret agent based on his own comic book series.
A couple of years later, Tarantino will sponsor a film about this very heroic Modesty. The love of reading during the physiological act let the bandit down: he took the book into the toilet, but thoughtlessly left the gun on the table in someone else’s kitchen. The boxer, who ran home for his father’s watch, may not have planned to shoot at the killer who sat in ambush, but the click of the toaster did its job: the hand involuntarily pressed the trigger. So there is one less villain. And all the books … Boulevard, be it wrong, reading …
Why Quentin quotes
The film is stuffed with reminiscences from abundant cinematic material.
Marcelas suddenly appears in front of the boxer’s car on the run, like the boss of the money-stealing secretary in Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho.
Vincent and Mia do the twist reminiscent of the choreographic performance of Franz (Sammy Frey), Odile (Anna Karina) and Arthur (Claude Brasseur) from Jacques-Luc Godard’s Bande à part (The Outsiders), or the episode with the dance of Gloria Morin (Barbara Steele) and Mario Mezabotta (Mario Pisu) from Federico Fellini’s 8 ½.
The wounded Butch, somehow escaping from Marselas, repeats the final “jogging” of the hero Belmondo from the Jean-Luc Godard film A bout de souffle (On the last breath).
Butch chooses weapons in the pervert shop, trying on an ice pick (hello, Assassination of Trotsky!), a chainsaw (hello, Texas Chainsaw Massacre and the like!), then a samurai sword (hello, Highlander ”, “Seven Samurai” and many others!).Why does the director need all this? Yes, I want him to push hints of previous cinematic tricks into the film – for connoisseurs. Anyone in the know will appreciate it.
And what’s in the suitcase?
The curiosity of the public Tarantino and does not think to satisfy. We see only the astonished faces of those who look into the mysterious suitcase and the reflection on their faces. The director told a radio listener during a 2003 interview that what the viewer wants to see is in the suitcase. A roadside cafe petty thief named Pumpkin (Tim Roth) opens the case, is shocked and asks, “Is this what I’m thinking?” Some believe that the black soul of Marselas is hidden there, as the suitcase code – 666 gives a hint.
If you like, the briefcase contains a shining artifact called the MacGuffin. The term was introduced by Alfred Hitchcock and it means something around which the plot is built. If you are interested, you can learn more about the MacGuffin phenomenon here.
Actor John Travolta, who looked into the bowels of the suitcase, completely removed the romantic flair from the contents and gave out all the secrets: there was a light bulb that worked on a battery.
A spoon of tar
First, the audience was struck by the non-linearity of the narrative. Wheeler Winston Dixon, professor of film art at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, says: “Before, no one would have guessed that the audience would be ready to watch this.
But “Pulp Fiction” did not win everyone over. Kenneth Turan, a film critic for the Los Angeles Times, was one of the few dissenters. He wrote: “It seems that the author hardly tortured the cinema. Some episodes seem to be the fruit of creative impotence, as if someone feared for his reputation, playing on the emotions of a sensitive viewer by any means.” Some critics found the film to be pretentious and superficial.
Wheeler Winston Dixon counters: “Critics who think the film is superficial, tinsel, don’t see a brilliant script underneath the tinsel. It’s the best dialogue [Tarantino] has ever written.”
The tape was also criticized for introducing stylized violence into mainstream cinema. But fans of Tarantino, of course, do not admit his guilt.
“I wouldn’t blame Quentin Tarantino. For example, Sam Peckinpah (an American innovator of cinema of the 20th century – Ed.), 20 or 30 years before the release of Pulp Fiction, set such a bar of violence on the screen that we still have to grow and grow before it Stephen Garrett says.
The new generation of directors influenced by Tarantino was deeply impressed by the film. Several imitation films were shot (including in Russia – Ed.), But in the eyes of Tarantino fans, the superiority of “Pulp Fiction” is undeniable.
“There are a lot of films that show the influence of this film, but none even come close to the level of the original,” says Ann Thompson. “Who could have known then that it would have such an effect that it would have such an impact on all subsequent films.”
This week, 20 years after Pulp Fiction’s first commemorative screening, film critics and journalists are back at Cannes. Everyone would like to see no less innovative and original picture than the famous Tarantino film. Someday it can happen quite suddenly – this is the miracle of Cannes. However, it will not be easy to surpass the tape, which some call the greatest motion picture of all time.