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Film Review: Pulp Fiction

Updated on December 15, 2016

Background

In 1994, director Quentin Tarantino released Pulp Fiction, which starred John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, Harvey Kietel Tim Roth, Amanda Plummer, Maria de Medeiros, Ving Rhames, Eric Stoltz, Rosanna Arquette, Christopher Walken and Bruce Willis. The film Grossed $213.9 million at the box office.


Synopsis


After dealing with a job gone awry and the robbery of the diner they were eating at, hitmen Jules Winnfield and Vincent Vega return a briefcase to their employer, the crime boss Marcellus Wallace who has the latter to take his wife out for a good time and instructs aging boxer Butch Coolidge to throw his next fight. However, neither's night go as planned.

Review

Interesting and well-presented, Pulp Fiction is a very interesting film, especially in the characters it presents to its audience. The first characters seen are Jules and Vince, two hitmen who aren't sociopaths and make a point to get into character before doing their job. Prior to the two of them doing so, they were having a normal conversation about hamburgers, foreign drug use and foot rubs, showing that they see their instructions as nothing more than a job in which they need to act professionally.

They're also two different people with two different personalities. Winnfield is serious and self-aware while Vega is sloppy and is pretty oblivious to his surroundings and both deal with distinct character arcs. With Jules' he takes the gun missing the two of them very seriously and uses it as a sign that he really needs to leave the hitman work behind. As the film progreses, it shows that he’s trying to improve himself when Pumpkin and Honey Bunny rob the restaurant, sparing the two and telling them that they caught him when he’s trying to reform. His reformation and character development changes his interpretation of the verse from Ezekiel, showing that he thinks through everything he does and what it means.

On the other hand, Vince just brushes it off, thinks Jules is acting irrationally and continues, only to leave an weapon laying around where Butch could get to it and use it against him. This also shows that Vince wasn’t any good at the job to begin with and was riding Jules’ coattails the entire time. In fact, Vincent’s attitude seems to deconstruct crime thriller tropes, with him acting cool, suave and in control, but has no control over anything whatsoever.

A lot of the action also revolves around Vincent using the restroom and coming back to major changes in his life. Chronologically, they all increase in importance as well. In the first, he misses the beginning of the robbery, he then misses Mia snorting heroin, causing him to need to get her amateur medical attention and then the aforementioned moment with Butch, leading to his death.

Then there’s Marsellus, who has quite a notable method of character development. He’s initially seen from behind in his appearances until Butch’s storyline begins, distancing the audience. In the middle of it though, his encounters with the hillbillies and being saved by Butch humanizes him and in his final scene, he’s showing his humanity. It’s a perfect way of making character development that doesn’t necessarily mean the character is developing, just that the character is showing different facets of their personality. Because while the audience saw the development in that order, the nonlinearity of the film makes it so the humanizing aspect is the final part of the timeline concerning him. Just like Vincent, he also has a part in helping to deconstruct crime thriller tropes, showing that even feared crime lords can make stupid mistakes.

Butch is a very human character, too with his whole arc dealing with very human actions and tendencies. He takes Marsellus' money, but betrays him by winning the fight and inadvertantly killing his opponent and plans to skip town with his girlfriend. The plan would have worked perfectly had said girlfriend not forgotten his watch, causing Butch to head back to his apartment only to be forced to kill Vince and run into Marsellus which sparks the fight where the two are taken captive by the hillbillies. Throughout all of this, Butch shows quite a bit of humanness, such as pride in not wanting to throw a fight, feeling slightly melancholy at having his opponent dying in the ring, attachment to his father's watch and relief in being able to escape the hillbillies coupled with the realization that he can't just leave Marsellus which turns into displaying a sense of honor in returning and saving him.


4 stars for Pulp Fiction

the postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent WNI's positions, strategies or opinion

Awards Won

Academy Awards

  • Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen

Golden Globe Awards

  • Best Screenplay - Motion Picture

BAFTA Awards

  • Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Samuel L. Jackson)
  • Best Screenplay - Original

Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films, USA SAturn Awards

  • Best Action/Adventure/Thriller Film

Awards Circuit Community Awards

  • Best Motion Picture
  • Best Director
  • Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Samuel L. Jackson)
  • Best Original Screenplay
  • Best Film Editing
  • Best Cast Ensemble
  • Second Place - Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Uma Thurman)
  • Second Place - Best Costume Design
  • Second Place - Best Stunt Ensemble

Blue Ribbon Awards

  • Best Foreign Language Film

Boston Society of Film Critics Awards

  • Best Film
  • Best Director
  • Best Screenplay

Brit Awards

  • Best Soundtrack

Cannes Film Festival

  • Palm d'Or

Casting Society of America, USA Artios Awards

  • Best Casting for Feature Film, Drama

Chicago Film Critics Association Awards

  • Best Director
  • Best Screenplay

Dallas-Fort Worth Film Critics Association Awards

  • Best Picture
  • Best Director
  • Best Screenplay
  • Second Place - Best Supporting Actress (Uma Thurman)
  • Third Place - Best Actor (John Travolta)

David di Donatello Awards

  • Best Foreign Actor (John Travolta)
  • Best Foreign Film


Edgar Allen Poe Awards

  • Best Motion Picture

Empire Awards, UK

  • Best Director

Golden Schmoes Awards

  • Second Place - Best DVD of the Year (Pulp Fiction: Special Edition)

Independent Spirit Awards

  • Best Feature
  • Best Director
  • Best Male Lead (Samuel L. Jackson)
  • Best Screenplay

Kansas City Film Critics Circle Awards

  • Best Film
  • Best Direcotr

Key Art Awards

  • Third Place - Best Trailer - Audio/Visual (for the trailer of the Tarantino XX Collection)

Kinema Junpo Awards

  • Best Foreign Language Film

London Critics Circle Film Awards

  • Actor of the Year (John Travolta)
  • Screenwriter of the Year

Los Angeles Film Critics Association Awards

  • Best Picture
  • Best Actor (John Travolta)
  • Best Director
  • Best Screenplay

MTV Movie Awards

  • Best Movie
  • Best Dance Sequence

National Board of Review, USA Awards

  • Best film
  • Best Director
  • Top Ten Films

National Film Preservation Board, USA

  • National Film Registry

National Society of Film Critics Awards, USA

  • Best Film
  • Best Director
  • Best Screenplay
  • Second Place - Best Supporting Actress (Uma Thurman)
  • Second Place - Best Supporting Actor (Samuel L. Jackson)
  • Second Place - Best Actor (Samuel L. Jackson)
  • Third Place - Best Actor (John Travolta)

New York Film Critics Circle Awards

  • Best Director
  • Best Screenplay
  • Second Place - Best Film
  • Second Place - Best Actor (Samuel L. Jackson)
  • Second Place - Best Supporting Actress (Uma Thurman)

Online Film & Television Association Awards

  • OFTA Hall of Fame - Motion Picture

Society of Texas Film Critics Awards

  • Best Film
  • Best Director
  • Best Actor (Samuel L. Jackson)
  • Best Screenplay

Southeastern Film Critics Association Awards

  • Best Picture
  • Best Director

Stockholm Film Festival Awards

  • Best Actor (John Travolta)
  • Best Screenplay
  • Bronze Horse

Nominated for

Academy Awards

  • Best Picture
  • Best Actor in a Leading Role (John Travolta)
  • Best Actor in a Supporting Role (Samuel L. Jackson)
  • Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Uma Thurman)
  • Best Director
  • Best Film Editing

Golden Globe Awards

  • Best Motion Picture - Drama
  • Best Director - Motion Picture
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Motion Picture - Drama (John Travolta)
  • Best Performance by an Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture (Uma Thurman)
  • Best Performance by an Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture (Samuel L. Jackson)

BAFTA Awards

  • Best Actor (John Travolta)
  • Best Actress (Uma Thurman)
  • Best Cinematography
  • Best Editing
  • Best Film
  • Best Sound
  • David Lean Award for Direction

Screen Actors Guild Awards

  • Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Leading Role (John Travolta)
  • Outstanding Performance by a Male Actor in a Supporting Role (Samuel L. Jackson)
  • Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role (Uma Thurman)

American Cinema Editors, USA Eddie Awards

  • Best Edited Feature Film

American Comedy Awards, USA

  • Funniest Supporting Actress in a Motion Picture (Amanda Plummer)

Australian Film Institute Awards

  • Best Foreign Film Award


Awards Circuit Community Awards

  • Best Actor in a Leading Role (John Travolta)
  • Best Cinematography

Awards of the Japanese Academy

  • Best Foreign Film

Chicago Film Critics Association Awards

  • Best Supporting Actress (Uma Thurman)
  • Best Actor (Samuel L. Jackson)
  • Best Actor (John Travolta)
  • Best Picture

Chlotrudis Awards

  • Best Movie
  • Best Actor (Samuel L. Jackson)
  • Best Supporting Actor (Bruce Willis)
  • Best Supporting Actress (Uma Thurman)

Cesar Awards, France

  • Best Foreign Film

David di Donatello Awards

  • Best Foreign Actress (Uma Thurman)

Directors Guild of America, USA Awards

  • Outstanding Directorial Achievement in Motion Pictures

DVD Exclusive DVD Premiere Awards

  • Best Menu Design (for the Collector's Edition)

Golden Trailer Awards

  • Best of the Decade

IGN Summer Movie Awards

  • Best Movie Blu-Ray (for the Tarantino XX: 8-Film Collection)

Independent Spirit Awards

  • Best Supporting Male (Eric Stoltz)

Italian National Syndicate of Film Journalists Silver Ribbon Awards

  • Best Foreign Director

London Critics Circle Film ALFS Awards

  • Film of the Year
  • Director of the Year

MTV Movie Awards

  • Best Female Performance (Uma Thurman)
  • Best Male Performance (John Travolta)
  • Best On-Screen Duo (Samuel L. Jackson/John Travolta)
  • Best Movie Song ("Girl, You'll be a Woman Soon")

PGA Awards

  • Outstanding Producer of Theatrical Motion Pictures

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