Vincent Vega and Jules Winnfield are two of the most iconic characters of modern cinema. By now, you must have guessed that we will be discussing Quentin Tarantino’s film Pulp Fiction this week. However, here lies my problem. There is hardly anything to say about the 1994 directorial that has not been said by better and acclaimed writers before. But because I had decided to write about Pulp Fiction, I watched it again a few days ago. And I was blown away yet again. Mostly by the filmmaker’s style and dialogue-writing. These two are the main driving forces of Pulp Fiction, followed by the acting.
Thanks to the other works of the ‘mad genius’, I was not at all shocked with the generous amount of gore, cussing and the liberal use of the ‘N’ word. In fact, Tarantino might be the only popular Caucasian man who can get away with the ‘N’ word without creating a storm behind him. His enduring friendship with Hollywood star Samuel L Jackson is a testament to how small an issue that term’s usage is in his movies. Sometimes, even shockingly so. And then there were the signature Tarantino shots – the trunk shot and the feet shot. The great music and the way it has been cut to fit the sequences was another thing that reminded me that Tarantino is a proper art geek. He is someone who loves art in all its forms — be it in music, literature or cinema.
Most people believe that dialogue-heavy films are a bore. And sure, they can be, in the wrong hands. But if you are someone as clever and skilled as Tarantino, then you know that is going to be the least of your worries. If anything, the wordy dialogues make the scenes chunkier, quirkier, more interesting. They add that heft to the performance too. Words are not just words in a Tarantino script. They mean something, and they signal an event that is yet to happen. An example in case is the Tim Roth and Amanda Plummer scene at the diner. The two just go on and on until they finally swish out their guns and reveal their real motive. So the dialogue does two things here — it shows, and it hides. It introduces us to the characters and their personalities, and it keeps from the audience a forthcoming event – in this case, a robbery.
Hollywood Rewind: Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon | The Age of Innocence | Mean Girls | Die Hard | Never Been Kissed | Citizen Kane | Kill Bill Volume I | Terminator 2 Judgment Day | Titanic | Heat | Home Alone | Jerry Maguire | Brief Encounter | The Truman Show | The Deer Hunter | The Shining | Clueless | Ferris Bueller’s Day Off | Blue Velvet | Taxi Driver | The Lord of the Rings I | Zero Dark Thirty | The Godfather | Say Anything | Warm Bodies | Bright Star | Malcolm X | Stardust | Red Eye | Notting Hill | Fargo | The Virgin Suicides | The Breakfast Club | Enchanted | Walk the Line | Blood Diamond | Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban | Mortal Kombat | Bridges of Madison County | Edward Scissorhands | Breakfast at Tiffany’s | She’s Gotta Have It | Ever After | The Devil Wears Prada | The Matrix | Creed | Mulan | Ratatouille | Shutter Island | Her | Dead Poets Society | Sleepless in Seattle | Waitress | Pride and Prejudice | The Dark Knight | Before Sunset | School of Rock | About a Boy | A Few Good Men | 50/50 | Begin Again | Brooklyn | Drive | Chocolat | Batman Begins | 10 Things I Hate About You | The Departed | Freedom Writers | Pretty Woman | Dan in Real Life | Jurassic Park | Tangled | Meet Joe Black | Monster’s Ball | Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind | You’ve Got Mail | Half Nelson | Fight Club | Doubt | American Psycho | Julie and Julia | Forrest Gump | The Silence of the Lambs | Finding Neverland | Roman Holiday| American History X | Tropic Thunder | Before Sunrise | Scent of a Woman | Finding Forrester | Sixteen Candles
And who can forget that lengthy monologue, The path of the righteous man, by Jules as he is about to shoot a man. Here, Jules goes on to recite his beloved verse from the Bible. It is dramatic, but also powerful. You have to hand it to Tarantino — the man knows how to make things work. The sequence could have been so flashy, loud and even preachy. But when you see it in the movie, it’s darkly comic but also somehow serious. After all, a man is reciting a holy verse before doing an unholy thing. The irony is subtle, but it does not go unmissed.
Pulp Fiction put Quentin Tarantino on the global map. Yes, Reservoir Dogs was great, and it got the filmmaker more work. But it was this pulpy, unique mix of a movie that really made people sit up and take notice of Tarantino.