A Postmodernist Film

         Pulp Fiction was released in 1994, directed by Quentin Tarantino, and co-written by Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary. The two writers won Academy Awards for Best Original Screenplay with Pulp Fiction. It also received seven Oscar nominations including Best Picture, Best Actor (John Travolta), Best Supporting Actor (Samuel L. Jackson), Best Supporting Actress (Uma Thurman), Best Director (Quentin Tarantino), Best Film Ending (Sally Menke), and Best Picture (Lawrence Bender, producer).

         This film has a fragmented storyline, popular with most of Tarantino’s work, and eclectic dialogue, pulled from several other less-famous works. Due to the unconventional structure of this movie (nonlinear order), it is an example of “postmodernist” films. These films take the historical film structure and turn it around, to create a work in which internal logic forms its means of expression. The name of the film is derived from the pulp magazines of the mid-twentieth century, known for their strongly graphic nature.

         This film also helped to launch or re-launch the careers of several actors including: Samuel L. Jackson, John Travolta, Bruce Willis, Uma Thurman, Ving Rhames, and Eric Stoltz.

         Pulp Fiction uses several unorthodox plot devices. One of these is the toilet motif. When characters come in contact with a bathroom, something drastic in the storyline is going to happen. Examples include: After Mia powder’s her nose in the bathroom at Jackrabbit Slim’s, Mia and Vincent compete and win in a dancing competition; and, when Vincent goes to the bathroom in Butch’s apartment, he exists to get shot by Butch. Another plot device is the much-deliberated briefcase. The content of the case is never known, but it always is glowing and is said to be the most beautiful thing in the world. The lock to it is 666, and it is owned by Marsellus Wallace, who has a wound on the back of his neck. When Quentin Tarantino was asked about this, he said it is just a “MacGuffin,” which is a plot device that motives character or advances a story, but has little or no relevance to the story. Although this is said, some (including myself) believe the case hold the soul of Marsellus Wallace.

Brent Bauscher

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