This September it’ll be 5 years since I first saw the film that changed my life. I’ll always remember flicking through the channels late one night and happening upon Pulp Fiction just as it was starting on BBC1. Recalling my cousins suggestion that I should watch it after being rather unimpressed with Inglourious Basterds (My first Tarantino experience. More on that in a few weeks though) I decided to stay up till the early hours of Saturday morning just to watch it. And to this day it will be one of the greatest decisions I’ve ever made.
Pulp Fiction is a beautiful mess of a film. My first viewing confused me so much, what with Tarantino’s presentation of the jumbled up story-line. But I knew I’d just witnessed something special. From that day on I have and will always cite Pulp Fiction as my all time favourite film. Whilst I understand there are plenty of other films just as good and at times even better than it, there’ll never be another film that sits so close to my heart.
With a cast including John Travolta, Samuel L Jackson, Uma Thurman and Harvey Keitel, Tarantino’s mobster epic has enough to please anyone in its 153 minute run-time. Travolta and Jackson’s storyline of a day in the life of two gangsters is spliced perfectly within the story of Bruce Willis’ Butch Coolidge attempting to do over gangster boss Marsellus Wallace in a fixed boxing match.
Each mini story in Pulp Fiction weaves effortlessly between themselves and gives plenty of shocks as well as plenty of laughs. Most of this is of course due to Tarantino’s flawless script, but praise must also be given to the late Sally Menke for her fantastic work in the editing suite. Having already proven herself a worthy ally to Tarantino with Reservoir Dogs, Menke outdoes her last performance by pulling off the editing of Pulp Fiction. Imagining anyone else pulling off such a feat in the same way is near impossible.
I can’t end this review without mentioning one of the greatest moments of Pulp Fiction. Whilst there are plenty of moments and scenes which can be picked out of the film to be discussed at length easily enough, such as Samuel L Jackson’s ‘The path of the righteous Man’ Bible quote or John Travolta and Uma Thurman’s dance scene to Chuck Berry’s You Never Can Tell, the one stand out moment for me has got to be that of Christopher Walken’s scene. Tarantino gives us a fantastically written three page monologue in the form of a story about two men, the Korean war and a gold watch. And Walken gives an equally fantastic performance as he tells the story brilliantly. It’s not surprising that Tarantino decided to keep the camera on him during the whole speech. Walken demands your attention from beginning to end.
Pulp Fiction is a masterpiece in every way possible. Whilst it’s not a film that can be watched constantly over and over again, it IS a film that deserves to be seen once and revisited again and again from then on. After only five years since my initial viewing, it has become an old friend and whether I watch it a year later or ten years later, the experience will be nothing short of magnificent.
Next week I’ll be looking back at Jackie Brown so keep a lookout for that. As you’ve probably noticed, I’m not giving the films in this batch of reviews a mark out of 5 because I can tell you right now that each and every one of Tarantino’s directed films gets a 5 from me.