Director: Quentin Tarantino
Production: Jersey Films, in association with Miramax; color, 35mm; running time: 149.
Producer: Lawrence Bender; executive producers: Danny DeVito, Michael Shamberg, and Stacey Sher; screenplay: Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary, based on stories by Quentin Tarantino and Roger Avary; photography: Andrzej Sekula; editor: Sally Menke; production designer: David Wasco; art designer: Charles Collum; casting: Ronnie Yeskell and Gary M. Zuckerbrod; sound: Ken King; special effects: Larry Fioritto; set designer: Sandy Reynolds-Wasco; costume designer: Betsy Heimann.
Cast: John Travolta (Vincent Vega); Samuel L. Jackson (Jules Winnfield); Uma Thurman (Mia Wallace); Harvey Kietel (The Wolf); Tim Roth (Pumpkin); Amanda Plummer (Honey Bunny); Maria de Medeiros (Fabienne); Ving Rhames (Marsellus Wallace); Eric Stoltz (Lance); Rosanna Arquette (Jody); Christopher Walken (Captain Koons); Bruce Willis (Butch Coolidge); Quentin Tarantino (Jimmie); Steve Buscemi (Surly Buddy Holly Waiter); Frank Whaley (Brett); Duane Whitaker (Maynard); Peter Greene (Zed).
Awards: Palme d'Or, Cannes International Film Festival, 1994; New York Film Critics Circle Award, for direction and screenwriting, 1994; Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, 1995.
Tarantino, Quentin, Pulp Fiction: A Quentin Tarantino Screenplay, New York, 1994.
Dawson, Jeff, Quentin Tarantino: The Cinema of Cool, New York, 1995.
Barnes, Alan, and Marcus Hearn, Tarantino: A to Z, North Pomfret, 1996; revised edition, 1999.
Woods, Paul A., King Pulp: The Wild World of Quentin Tarantino, London, 1996, 1998.
Peary, Gerald, Quentin Tarantino: Interviews, Jackson, 1998.
Woods, Paul A., Quentin Tarantino: The Film Creek Files, Austin, 1999.
Corliss, Richard, Time (New York), 10 October 1994.
Lane, Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, 10 October 1994.
Hirschberg, Lynn, "Tarantino Bravo," in Vanity Fair (New York), July 1994.
Gordinier, Jeff, "The Man in the Plastic Bubble," in Entertainment Weekly (New York), 21 October 1994.
Wild, David, "Quentin Tarantino," in Rolling Stone (New York), 3 November 1994.
Smith, Gavin, "When You Know You're in Good Hands," in Film Comment (New York), July-August 1994.
Siskel, Gene, "Brilliant Dialogue Makes Violent Pulp Fiction Special," in Chicago Tribune, 14 October 1994.
Hinson, Hal, "Killer Instinct: This Time, Director Tarantino's Thugs Slay You With Humor," in the Washington Post, 9 October 1994.
de Vries, Hilary, "Tarantino: The In-Your-Face Auteur," in Chicago Tribune, 9 October 1994.
Pawelczak, Andy, in Films in Review (New York), vol. 46, no. 1–2, January-February 1995.
Dowell, Pat, and John Fried, "Pulp Friction: Two Shots at Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction," in Cineaste (New York), vol. 21, no. 3, 1995.
Petersen, George, "Building Character Through Violence: A One-Two Punch," in Creative Screenwriting (Washington, D.C.), vol. 3, no. 1, Summer 1996.
Chumo, Peter N., II, "The Next Best Thing to a Time Machine: Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction," in Post Script (Commerce), vol. 15, no. 3, Summer 1996.
Lucas, Tim, in Video Watchdog (Cincinnati), vol. 32, 1996.
Stenger, J., "Power, Penetration, and Punishment: Masculinity and Male Control in Pulp Fiction," in Michigan Academician, vol. 28, no. 3, 1996.
Leitch, Thomas M., and David Lavery, "Know-Nothing Entertaintment: What to Say to Your Friends on the Right, and Why It Won't Do Any Good/'No Box of Chocolates': The Adaptation of Forrest Gump," in Literature/Film Quarterly (Salisbury), vol. 25, no. 1, January 1997.
Kimball, A. Samuel, "'Bad-Ass Dudes' in Pulp Fiction: Homophobia and the Counterphobic Idealization of Women," in Quarterly Review of Film and Video (Reading), vol. 16, no. 2, September 1997.
Zigelstein, J., "Staying Alive in the 90s: Travolta as Star and the Performance of Masculinity," in CineAction (Toronto), no. 44, 1997.
Davis, Todd F., and Kenneth Womack, "Shepherding the Weak: The Ethics of Redemption in Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction," in Literature/Film Quarterly (Salisbury), vol. 26, no. 1, January 1998.
Wolcott, James, "Live Fast, Die Young, and Leave a Big Stain," in Vanity Fair (New York), no. 452, April 1998.
* * *
Newcomer Quentin Tarantino injected some Scorsesian adrenalin and an overdose of Scorsesian banter among his low-life characters into his feature film debut Reservoir Dogs (1992), a contemporary heist film that owed its plot to Raoul Walsh's classic gangster movie White Heat and its oddball narrative structure to Stanley Kubrick's heist film The Killing. Critically acclaimed—and controversial— because of its gritty gutter language, back-and-forth in time method of storytelling, and mixture of humor and extremely graphic violence,
Reservoir Dogs brought Tarantino to the attention of Hollywood. But his follow-up, Pulp Fiction, made him the inspiration of film school graduates everywhere—even though Tarantino himself never went to film school. The director studied his craft by clerking at a video store where he watched everything on the shelves, from the classics to the wild and bloody Hong Kong action movies of Jackie Chan and John Woo, all the while writing scripts in his spare time.
Like Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction deals with a disparate group of low-life gangland characters, each of whom shares one thing in common: a gift for gab and gunplay. The milieu, storylines, and characters of the drama are straight out of the pages of those tawdry dime magazines from which the film derives its wonderfully apt title. It tells several stories concurrently, some of which intersect as the film unfolds. Characters are introduced, dropped, or killed off and later returned as the film's narrative structure jumps back and forth in the non-linear way of Reservoir Dogs and its Kubrick model.
The film starts out with a hold-up in a restaurant by a pair of hotheaded neophytes (Tim Roth and Amanda Plummer), then picks up the story of two mob hitmen played by John Travolta and Samuel L. Jackson. Travolta's duties also include chaperoning his boss's drug addict girlfriend (Uma Thurman) around town and keeping her out of trouble while the boss is away. Yet another story involves a prizefighter (Bruce Willis) who takes it on the lam to get out from under the crooked clutches of the mob. This story, like so many of the bits and pieces of Pulp Fiction, owes its inspiration to Tarantino's years of movie watching; it's his take on the classic Robert Siodmack film noir The Killers. References to everything from Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho to Robert Aldrich's Kiss Me Deadly abound throughout Pulp Fiction, making it a film buff's movie. The film ends where it began, in the restaurant, where Jackson and Travolta stop for a bite to eat after their labors; Jackson not only foils the hold-up, but sets the robbers on a straight path, turning the film into a shaggy morality tale.
Like his characters, Tarantino has a gift for gunplay. Pulp Fiction's graphically violent setpieces are not for the faint of heart; the blood flows as freely and as spectacularly as it does in the Hong Kong action movies Tarantino loves so much. But the scene where the desperate Travolta must jump-start Thurman's heart with a hypo after she suffers a drug overdose is arguably the film's grisliest and most potent—and there's not a gun in sight.
Tarantino also shares his characters' gift of gab. Dialogue is not typically a high point of action films. But it is in a Tarantino action movie. In fact, dialogue is Tarantino's most distinctive trademark— as well as his most individual. He thinks nothing of having his characters consume minutes of screen time spouting pages and pages of dialogue, ranging from the innocuous, to the hilarious, to the eloquent and even poignant—and all of it revealing of their characters. Travolta and Jackson's constantly bantering hitmen do most of the film's best and brightest talking. And their exchanges, wherein among other things Travolta comments on the French translation of "quarter pounder with cheese" while Jackson waxes philosophically on the possibilities of redemption, are priceless. The two actors earned Oscar nominations for their performances—Travolta as Best Actor, Jackson as Best Supporting Actor, although their parts in the film are of equal weight. Neither won. The film, however won the Palme d'Or at Cannes and an Oscar for Best Original Screenplay, transforming Tarantino into Hollywood's hottest wunderkind since Steven Spielberg.
"Pulp Fiction." International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers. . Encyclopedia.com. (March 23, 2019). https://www.encyclopedia.com/movies/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/pulp-fiction
"Pulp Fiction." International Dictionary of Films and Filmmakers. . Retrieved March 23, 2019 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/movies/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/pulp-fiction
Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).
Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.
Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:
Modern Language Association
The Chicago Manual of Style
American Psychological Association
- Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
- In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.