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Pulp Fiction & the Celebration of Life

In: Film and Music

Submitted By skurt1017
Words 1236
Pages 5
Pulp Fiction is like boot camp for the Marines. You come into it from your civilized life, they subject you to violent language until you're numb, they abuse you verbally and physically until all of your normal feelings and values are reduced to dust. Leaving you aware that you have changed, and able to describe the change, you find yourself questioning the person you were previously. First thing you know you're saluting. This story is a cleverly disorienting journey through a landscape of danger, shock, hilarity, and vibrant local color. Nothing is predictable or familiar within this irresistibly bizarre world. You do not merely enter a theater to see Pulp Fiction: you go down a rabbit hole.

Theater is an actor moving through time and space, telling a story. In Quentin Terintenio¹s, Pulp Fiction, the actors portray savvy modern-day gangsters and the story is three stories told in backwards order. To say the least this not your average story. The theme of the story is redemption, and the journey to achieve that redemption. The characters are colorfully multidimensional and most importantly they are believable.
The language of the story is street-smart and confident, like the characters. There is no main plot, only mirror plots that are reflections of each other.

The theme of redemption is portrayed by two of the main characters of the story. These characters seek redemption and a new way of life, they each desire a more virtuous life. Butch (Bruce Willis) wants to pull off one last scam and then run away with the woman he loves. He seeks forgiveness and redemption through the future birth of his child. He wants his child to have a healthy childhood so that he will have the opportunity to hand down his precious gold watch, which was handed down to him. Jules (Samuel Jackson) has a near death experience and sees it as divine intervention that he is alive. Now he simply wants to leave his criminal lifestyle to ³walk the earth², and find his true self. Our story starts with the journey of the characters.

The characters in this story are not simply black and white, from the moment you meet them you are drawn in and want to know more about them. The story¹s intrigue, that element that makes the viewer curious, draws the audience in. And the story¹s credibility, the consistency of the characters, holds the audience there, inside the movie. These characters appeal to the viewer because of the street-smart and logical thinking. The characters do not live in a nine to five world of average Joe¹s, but they still maintain complete believability. Most importantly each character preserves absolute independence of intention throughout the story. Each character has there own set of values and goals which only adds to the credibility of the characters. Also the characters can be seen as symbolic of the times, which is a credit to the actors. The actors in this story correctly articulate the values of today.

The language of this story compliments its credibility because the language matches the characters. A basic strategy in the film is to use the language as humorous dialogue and to delay the suspense of a moment of violence. While the Uma Thurman character is dying on the floor, for example, Vincint (John Travolta) and Neil (Eric Stoltz) have a hysterical debate over how to use the hypodermic needle. The dialogue increases the suspense before the action.

This strategy is set up in the opening shot, where Jules and Vincent have a long, funny discussion about foot massage while walking down a long hotel corridor. The shot is done in one unbroken take. They arrive in front of the door to the fatal apartment, decide it is not yet time to enter, and walk further down the hall to continue their discussion. But now the camera no longer joins them; it stays planted in front of the door, and pans to look at them, walking away. The visual language says that the apartment is the first priority; the camera seems almost impatient as the discussion continues, and the tension builds.

No one can say for sure whether this story is driven by its plot or by its characters. Although there is great depth of character this story lends itself to be directed more by its plot. Because after several viewings the audience can start to see that is is not the characters that make the movie it is the odd situations that these vibrant characters are placed in that give real life to the story. The more you watch the movie, the more you're convinced that there is a hidden spiritual level in the plot. Much has to do with the famous briefcase which belongs to Marcellus Wallace, and which Jules and Vincent capture in the apartment. We never see its contents, which emit a golden glow. What we can notice is that the combination to its lock is "666", the sign of Satan. These only tempts the audience to speculate that the Band-Aid on the back of Marcellus' neck conceals the number "666." Is Marcellus the devil? That's unknowable, but reflect that Jules, who believes he and Vincint have been saved by God, lives while Vincent, who views it as chance, dies.

The moral force of the play resides inside because there are well defined lessons that can be taken away from this story. The character of Butch goes against the odds to literally fight for what he believes in. He does not carry out his bribed orders to take a fall in the fifth round of his final career bought, and he lives happily ever after. The hit-man heroin addict character of Vincent Vega is killed. The hit-man character of Jules has a near death experience and gives up the life of crime for one of virtue, and lives happily ever after.

This story has been criticized for being to violent while actually much of the violence is off-screen. When the guys in the apartment are shot, the camera is on Jules or Vincent, not on the victims. When the hypodermic needle goes into Mia's chest, the camera cuts away at the last instant to a reaction shot. The gunshot in the backseat of the car is off screen.

One particularly neat bit of continuity happens in the pawn shop, where there is a neon sign for Killian's Red beer. Some of the letters are burnt out, so the sign says only "Kill Ed." Later, when Butch escapes on Zed's motorcycle, he looks at the key-ring, which has a big metal "Z." Add the Z to the sign and you get "Kill Zed," which is what happened. The motorcycle has the word "Grace" painted on its gas tank, and Butch escapes, but for the grace of God.

One of the unique characteristics of Pulp Fiction is that it celebrates life and does not depict, analyze, or critique it. Suspending the viewers' moral judgments makes it that much easier for the story to sustain its startling tone. The violent events are offset with unexpected laughter, the contrast of moods becomes liberating, calling attention to the real choices the characters make. In these choices the audience cheers for the good guys, who are the stereotypical bad guys, and celebrates life by questioning their own at the end of the story.

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