Tarantino's Pulp Fiction, One of the Best Movies Ever Made

Pulp Fiction
Pulp Fiction

What makes Pulp Fiction one of the best movies ever made?

Well, this certainly is a tricky question but let's look at the evidence.

Pulp Fiction is one of the best movies ever made because it had:-

  • one of the best scripts ever written
  • it had a cast that took chances - superstars rub shoulders with lesser-known character actors
  • it played games with plotting - melding together 3 or 4 stories in a flawless way whilst also creating connections or degrees of separation between all of the characters in each story. It is a postmodernist movie which wears its style well.
  • it has one of the best opening scenes in movie history - it shocks you, smashes and grabs you, fills your ears with an amazing song and then you better fasten your seatbelt because it's going to be the ride of a lifetime.

Pulp Fiction wrings every ounce of pop culture out of its various stories - Quentin Tarantino is a director with confidence in his audience. He might not have realised when he started that he was creating a masterpiece but by the time he'd watched the rushes, done the editing and picked up the Palm D'Or at the Cannes Film Festival, he might have realised this was a very special movie.

He knows we'll get it!

Marlene - Film Noir Style
Marlene - Film Noir Style
Uma Thurman - Postmodernist Film Style.  Tarantino borrowa from the old and brings it to the new.
Uma Thurman - Postmodernist Film Style. Tarantino borrowa from the old and brings it to the new.
Uma in black and white - a little bit of 'noir'
Uma in black and white - a little bit of 'noir'

Pulp Fiction Movie - Homage and Pastiche

Quentin Tarantino has said of Pulp Fiction "I always hope that if one million people see my movie, they see one million different movies."

These are the words of a brave director but also one who believes in himself and in his abilities to tell a good story.

Pulp Fiction is an homage to pulp fiction novels, honouring the pulp fiction novels and magazines of the last four decades. Originally, writers Tarantino and Avery wanted to call the movie, Black Mask, after the crime magazine of the same name. They decided against it realising that this movie was not just about crime.

Their original idea for Pulp Fiction was to base it on the ideas first seen in the 1963 movie, Black Sabbath but like all great things, Black Sabbath was only part of the story - Pulp Fiction features a lot of crime but there are drugs, some smooth dancing, some love interest, a case full of something (we never get to see what!), two young lovers with criminal intent but an idealised way of making it, a gangland boss with an interest in match fixing and we even get to see the 'back room guy' - the cleaner/the wolf (Harvey Keitel).

Pulp Fiction is nothing if not a mystery. It is both homage and pastiche - as a pastiche, it steals the best from film noir, black comedy and is first and foremost a postmodernist movie, it borrows from a range of styles from the past and near past both in its cinematic qualities and in its script and plotting.

Still photographs from the movie are only obviously from our era because we know the actors. Just for fun I have created some black and white shots from the original colour shots and you can see in these the classic stylistic qualities of film noir - they are suddenly from the 1940s not the 1990s.

Amanda Plummer and Tim Roth in small but perfectly performed roles.
Amanda Plummer and Tim Roth in small but perfectly performed roles.

WARNING - Profane language throughout

Prologue - Two Young Lovers Try To Hold Up A Fast Food Place

The opening scene of Pulp Fiction finds us in a fast food place in the throes of a conversation between two young people, 'Honey Bunny' (Amanda Plummer) and 'Pumpkin' (Tim Roth). Pumpkin really loves Honey Bunny and Honey Bunny is absolutely besotted with Pumpkin - she would do anything for Pumpkin.

He is not a criminal mastermind and he is trying to explain to Honey Bunny that they need to reconsider their criminal hits on licquor stores and gas stations.

"Nobody ever robs restaurants. Why not?" and so begins his plan for the two of them to rob this restaurant - the one in which they sit and drink their coffee.

"I bet you could cut down on the hero factor in a place like this." Honey Bunny says and eventually they talk one another into holding up the restaurant.

He needs her to not get panicky. He needs her to follow the plan, they will get some money - lots of money from the tills and from the people in the restaurant.

But Tarantino lingers on Honey Bunny's face; her eyes, her longing for Pumpkin. He lingers on her too thankful face when the waitress gives her more free coffee, her weirdness, her body movements. He unsettles us with her body language whilst filling our ears with Pumpkin's take on life and crime.

These two lovers are thrill seekers and are about to commit a crime in a fast food restaurant during breakfast time.

Hang onto your hats folks - this is just the beginning of this movie and we're about to be thrown into this director's maelstrom...or are we?

There's a reason this is one of the best movies ever made - you never know what's coming next.

Vince Vega (John Travolta) and Jules Winnfield (Samuel L Jackson)
Vince Vega (John Travolta) and Jules Winnfield (Samuel L Jackson)
Vince and Jules in black and white - film noir.
Vince and Jules in black and white - film noir.

Story 1 - Vince Vega and Jules Winnfield Go To See A Man About A Case

We have no sooner been thrust into the criminal lives of Pumpkin than Honey Bunny than Tarantino cuts away with some brilliant music to the credits for Pulp Fiction and then we are in the company of Jules Winnfield (Samuel L Jackson) and Vincent Vega (John Travolta), two guys on their way up to an apartment and having a conversation about a colleague who has been thrown over a balcony by their boss, Marsellus Wallace for giving Marsellus' wife Mia a foot massage.

Welcome to the wonderful world of Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avery's script where the dialogue to move things forward is intermingled with small talk. Some critics have said that this is self-indulgent but personally, I find the small talk quite funny and it develops the characters even more. We know that Vincent has spent many months in Amsterdam and that McDonald's meals have different names there. Jules finds this stuff fascinating and repeats Vincent's foreign names for a quarterponder with a smile and a nod of agreement.

So Tarantino creates two characters who seem ok but we know by their clothes (black suits, white shirt, black tie) that they are in business somehow - but their dialogue is full of gossip and foreign fast food. Tarantino makes us want to know Jules and Vince.

And then he puts them in a room full of teenagers. Now they do look out of place. The teenagers are dressed like teenagers and they are eating fast food. Jules helps himself to a bit of the 'big Kahuna Burger' belonging to one of them - "that is one tasty burger"

And then Jules and Vince get out their guns.....

Marsellus Wallace speaks to Butch
Marsellus Wallace speaks to Butch

Story 2 - Butch Agrees To Throw A Fight for Marsellus Wallace

....So for now, we are not going to get to find out what Vince and Jules are up to, but don't worry, they'll be back.

Pulp Fiction is a movie with a fractured timeline, you will find yourself in the present, then back in the past, then back in the present, then in a different story in the present, then back to a different story's past.

But don't worry - you won't get lost off or have to rewind to remind yourself what happened - all of the stories will join together at some point - yup, all of them.

Butch (Bruce Willis) is a boxer in a conversation with Marsellus Wallace. Marsellus is telling him to throw the fight in a certain round. Bruce takes possession of a large envelpe full of bills - Bruce goes back to the bar for a drink.

Sitting at the bar? Vince Vega (this time without Jules).

But Butch doesn't throw the fight - he decides that this is his pride at stake and so, in this last fight, he places a wager on himself to win and he does just that but he also kills the other guy.

Marsellus is very, very unhappy but that's a different story....

Vince and Mia take the floor
Vince and Mia take the floor

Story 3 - Vince Is Sent to 'Mind' Marsellus' Wife

....Vince has to see Marsellus about something.

Marsellus wants Vince to take his wife Mia out dancing. Vince has only just heard that Marsellus threw another of his henchmen over a balcony for massaging Mia's feet so Vince is a little bit worried about Mia.

Will Mia come onto him? Will he end up being thrown over a balcony?

To take the edge off Vince goes to see his drug dealer, Lance for some heroin. He shoots up at Lance's house and then drives to Marsellus' house to pick up Mia for the date.

They go to JackRabbit Slim's a new 50s style diner and they eat burgers, talk a little bit and then they win the dance contest.

Vince takes Mia home and throws his jacket on the chair whilst he goes to the bathroom.

Mia finds his drugs and thinking its cocaine, takes a deep snort. She goes into overdose shock and Vince returns to the room to find her in dire need of an adrenalin shot.

A race across town in his convertible with the unconscious Mia is all filmed in a staccato way by Tarantino and you are hoping he can get help. Lance is reluctant but they finally make it and Vince injects the adrenalin straight into Mia's heart.

He saves her life and drops her off home....

Jules convinces 'Ringo' (Pumpkin) that his way is the best way to deal with the situation.
Jules convinces 'Ringo' (Pumpkin) that his way is the best way to deal with the situation.
Jules and Vince get a visit from 'the cleaner' (Harvey Keitel)
Jules and Vince get a visit from 'the cleaner' (Harvey Keitel)

WARNING - Profanity Alert!!!

Prologue - Everything Explained

Keeping up? Good!

While Vince recovers from Mia's overdose, Butch plans his escape from town. Marsellus Wallace is already looking for him.

The next episode of this fractured timeline sees Vince blows their informant's head off in the back of their car and Butch get lost in the wrong part of town whilst trying to escape from Marsellus.

So Pulp Fiction is one of the best movies ever made because it is about 6 or 7 different incidences arising from 3 or 4 storylines.

You don't get time to ever, ever get bored. You are a voyeur of all of the characters lives and you will warm to all of them and accept that they are good and bad people with good and bad attributes.

Situations in these people's lives are not like ours - because they live on the wrong side of the law. Crime is their life - Butch is trying to escape from a life as a mediocre boxer whose father died in Vietnam. All Butch ever wanted was for his dad to be proud of him and so he takes his own path to make good.

Jules and Vince are assassins working for a tough gangland boss with a pretty wife and a bad temper.

They have blood sprayed all over their car because Vince accidentally kills Marvin in the back of their car. They have just survived a rain of bullets from three different guns and every bullet misses them.

Jules decides that he's done with crime and he's 'gonna walk the earth.....like Kane' but then he went and got coffee from a fast food restaurant about to be held up by two inept robbers.

Interested yet? If you haven't seen Pulp Fiction, then you should but if you don't like violence, profanity and sexual references, give it a miss!

If you want to see one of the best movies ever made, then get it on DVD and watch it - you will not be sorry. You get to the end and want to press START all over again.

Thanks for reading!

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Pulp Fiction, One of the Best Movies Ever Made Comments 43 comments

Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK Author

Sherry, thanks for your comment - a lot of people dislike the Butch story but I agree with you, you can't see that coming! I think the whole movie is very cleverly put together with each story part of the other, Thanks for your comment.

Sherry Hewins profile image

Sherry Hewins 4 years ago from Sierra Foothills, CA

One of my favorites too. I like the sequence where Butch goes back to get his watch. Definitely lewd and depraved, but it just wouldn't be the same all cleaned up.

Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK Author

mary615, smiling at your comment because a few people I know said the same to me whilst I was raving about it :o) Thanks for your comment!

mary615 profile image

mary615 4 years ago from Florida

I watched this movie in a theater and just didn't get it! I later watched it again on TV, still didn't get it! I'm a little slow on movies like this. If you say it was a good movie, I'll take your word. I'm sure I'm in the minority.

I do like the actors in it, though.

Vinaya Ghimire profile image

Vinaya Ghimire 4 years ago from Nepal

Julie,when it comes to review movie, you are one of the best. I have not watched this movie, thanks for sharing this review, I will surely watch.

Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK Author

Mary, many thanks for your comment. I hope you get to see it soon.

tillsontitan profile image

tillsontitan 4 years ago from New York

I too, sadly, have only seen this movie once and that was a long time ago. If I remember it is a mix of violence and ironic humor...guess its time for me to see it again after reading this wonderful review!

Voted up, useful and interesting.

Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK Author

GoForTheJuggler, many thanks for your comment - I appreciate it, nice to meet a fellow Tarantino fan.

GoForTheJuggler profile image

GoForTheJuggler 4 years ago from Texas

Julie speaks truth - Pulp Fiction (and pretty much all Quentin Tarantino films) is worth watching. The fractured editing style he used here was a source of inspiration for many films (like Memento), and even a few TV shows (Damages, for one).

Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK Author

James, many thanks for your kind comment, I appreciate it!

Olde Cashmere profile image

Olde Cashmere 4 years ago from Michigan, United States

Fantastic review on one of my favorite films. Love how you included the excellent photos. This is a movie that should not be missed. Voted up, interesting, and awesome :)

Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK Author

DFidducia -Hi :o), many thanks for your comment!

DFiduccia profile image

DFiduccia 4 years ago from Las Vegas

This is a good synopsis of a great movie, and yes, it's time to watch it again.

...voted up—DF

Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK Author

Deb and Audrey - many thanks, as always, for your kind comments and thansk for the share(s) Audrey :o)

DeborahNeyens profile image

DeborahNeyens 4 years ago from Iowa

Great review. Even though I don't normally like movies with a lot of violence, I love this movie. I think the humor helps diffuse the violence.

vocalcoach profile image

vocalcoach 4 years ago from Nashville Tn.

Jools - One of my favorite movies. You have managed to give such a stellar review on this film. I'm going to share with several people I know who would love to have this in their library. Thank you!

Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK Author

Audra, I can get a bit enthusiastic about things :o) This movie has everything you could want in a movie, Tarantino is a very talented guy. Thanks, as always, for your comment.

Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK Author

Bruce - see Steve's comment - spooky! I wouldn't mind seeing it in chronological order just for the novelty of it. Many thanks for your comment.

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iamaudraleigh 4 years ago

I love your passion for movies, especially this one! Tarentino is brilliant! This movie was indeed full of surprises and a rocking cast! Love your enthusiastic hub!!!

Cogerson profile image

Cogerson 4 years ago from Virginia

I agree with you 100% about Pulp Fiction being one of the best movies ever made. I really enjoyed reading your breakdown of the three main stories. So many great lines, great roles and great scenes in this movie. I have probably watched the movie close to 100 times in my life....this is the motivation for me to finally watch my blu-ray update that I purchased about a month ago but have not watched it yet...maybe tonight.

You might find this interesting....I had a friend back in the mid 1990s who said he did not like the movie because it was not told in chronological order.....so I got my two VCRs and edited the movie and showed it to my friend in chronological order....talk about an interesting difference.....the movie ends with Bruce getting on the bike saying "Zed's dead baby, Zed's dead baby" and driving away. Basically the first part of the movie goes to the middle...the middle goes to the end....and the last part of the movie goes to the beginning...I wish I still had that VHS version..

Voted up and very interesting.

Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK Author

teaches12345, well worth the viewing if you find the time. Many thanks for your comment.

teaches12345 profile image

teaches12345 4 years ago

I hate to admit it, but I never saw the first version on this movie. I think you did a great review on this and it does make me consider renting it when available.

Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK Author

Paula, glad I have you convinced :o) Hope you get a chance to see it soon. Many thanks for your comment, I appreciate it.

fpherj48 profile image

fpherj48 4 years ago from Beautiful Upstate New York

Jools...now you've gone and done it. I saw this movie once.... but I'm not recalling it as well as I should...and so now, I have to see it again, because you think it's great and I trust you. UP++

Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK Author

Steve, I would love to see that fan edit - it would be amazing to see it in chronological order but I wonder if it would spoil it for me? Tarantino takes chances and I just love his movies. Many thanks for your comment.

Steve Lensman profile image

Steve Lensman 4 years ago from London, England

Excellent review Jools, by coincidence I bought the Blu-ray a week ago from HMV only £8, I haven't watched it yet but reading your review has got me in the mood.

I've seen the film many times on VHS and DVD, I've also seen a fan edit of the film with all the scenes in chronological order, it ends with Bruce Willis on the motorbike picking up Fabienne and the last words - "Zeds dead baby, Zeds dead."

Voted Up and Awesome

Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK Author

Cyndi - you owe it to yourself to see this movie - it is brilliant! Would I lie to you? Go on, Netflix lies in wait....thanks for the comment.

Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK Author

rfmoran - hee hee, but that's what's great about Tarantino - he throws in a few grenades in the script and boom, catches the audience off guard. That's why I love him. The scene in the car is brilliant.

Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK Author

Linda and Jeannie - many thanks for your comments, I appreciate it. Linda hope you get to see it soon. Jeannie - I agree, it is his best though I also really like Death Proof, especially the end sequences with the stunt women and the vengeful but slightly nuts Kurt Russell.

rfmoran profile image

rfmoran 4 years ago from Long Island, New York

Truly an amazing flick. It was weird to watch certain horrible scenes, as when Vince accidentally blows the guy's head off in the car - as I was laughing! Great hub about a great movie.

cclitgirl profile image

cclitgirl 4 years ago from Western NC

If I am honest, I have to say that I've never seen pulp fiction. Hehehe. But, after your rave review here, I'm going to put it on my Netflix cue. It came out when I was in college, but never got around to seeing it. Sooo, it's about time. :)

Sunshine625 profile image

Sunshine625 4 years ago from Orlando, FL

I'm ashamed to say I still haven't seen this movie. I came close a few times, but it never worked out. One day. Thanks for the great review!!

Jeannieinabottle profile image

Jeannieinabottle 4 years ago from Baltimore, MD

I love Pulp Fiction. The sequence of the scenes was essential to the plot. It is definitely Quentin Tarantino's best work ever, although I do love Grindhouse as well. Cool hub and voted up!

Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK Author

Bill, many thanks for your comment. Yup, great now as it was in 94 and I'm guessing it will still be great in 2014 and 2024. A keeper!

billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

We are in total agreement Julie! This was an exceptional movie the day it was released and it still is today. A classic in every sense. Great review!

Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK Author

Josh, needed a change of scenery for this hub cos I still haven't watched your idea hub yet! So I have rolled out my second favourite movie of all time. I could write a series of hubs about this one, that's how much I love it. Many thanks, my friend, for your kind comment :o)

Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK Author

Yes, Terrye, it is that quality that stands out above all others - it is complex enough to need to be viewed a number of times. I love all of his movies and I agree, he is bold but not cocky - I just wish sometimes, that he wouldn't act...he's not a great actor :o)

Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK Author

Christy, as you may have guessed, I have quite eclectic tastes - Pulp Fiction is one of my favourites but I can understand why it isn't to everyone's liking. Thanks for your comment nonetheless, I appreciate it.

Jools99 profile image

Jools99 4 years ago from North-East UK Author

xstatic, great adjectives - 'complex' and 'compelling' to describe this movie. It is a film that keeps giving every time you watch it. Many thanks as always for your comment.

xstatic profile image

xstatic 4 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

Outstanding review of a complex and compelling film. I hve not seen it for a long time, but may have to again now. It is a great one. Up/awesome.

ChristyWrites profile image

ChristyWrites 4 years ago from British Columbia, Canada

I have to admit I found it a little too violent for my taste. I am more a chick-flick gal as you likely already know from your other film reviews hehe! Well-organized hub Jools, you are getting to be a movie review expert here :)

TToombs08 profile image

TToombs08 4 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

Jools, this really is a great movie. I've seen it a number of times and it seems to be a different movie each time I watch it. I also love Tarantino. :) He's bold and not cocky. I like the way he seems things from a different point of view. Great review of a great movie! VUM.

josh3418 profile image

josh3418 4 years ago from Pennsylvania


You have done it again! I have to honestly say that I was shocked to see Pulp Fiction in the middle of you Chick Flicks...I was like WHOAH! LOL

Awesome job though, very informative review on a popular movie to many audiences! You hit the nail head on here Julie, thanks for sharing!

Take care Julie!

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