Following up his 1992 debut, Resevoir Dogs, Quentin Tarantino endeavored to create another insular world, seemingly detached from what most of the film’s viewers were accustomed to. It was meant to take place during the present day, but aped a style pilfered from video store clerk’s collections, id and sublimated desires.
In its throw back good naturedness, though, Pulp Fiction presents an ever difficult realm to navigate as it’s populated by assorted killers, gamblers, drug dealers and crime figureheads. Each of these, however, becomes portrayed in a sympathetic light for at least a few moments.
The structure, a non linear compilation of sorts, revolves around the John Travolta character, Vincent Vega. He’s the only face in each of the four disparate tales that shouldn’t come together at all, but do, if only for a brief moment or two. But it’s in this sort of clever story telling that Tarantino was able to grab a hold of that ‘genius filmmaker’ tag that had been tossed around lightly after overwhelmingly positive receptions of not just Reservoir Dogs, but a few scripts he had a hand in as well.
Using the same sort of cartoonish, over the top violence present in that earlier feature, this 1994 film attempts to work gore into situations that might find coax a few chortles from audience members. All but one of the vignettes presents viewers with an up close and personal view of the carnage – at least three killings during the drug reckoning, not including Vega accidently shooting Marvin in the car, Bruce Willis’ Butch offing a rapist with a samurai sword, just after running over a crime kingpin. You get the idea.
With all of this going on, it’s not difficult to loose track of time. And at two and a half hours, the fact that Pulp Fiction is capacious of holding viewer’s attention is alone laudable. But its pacing, although an important aspect of the film, isn’t what makes Pulp Fiction such an enduring effort even fifteen plus years after its initial release.
Around the movie, Tarantino erected some oddly cool, retro thing that wasn’t necessarily en vogue amidst all the Seattle posturing that was going on during the same period. And in addition to the film and its director ushering in yet another wave of independent films’ popularity, it was able to recast older films, perhaps discarded by film critics as B-features, as significant influences.