Pulp Fiction is a 1994 American crime film written and directed by Quentin Tarantino. The cast of the film consists of John Travolta, Samuel L. Jackson, Uma Thurman, Harvey Keitel, Tim Roth, Amanda Plummer, Maria de Medeiros, Ving Rhames, Eric Stoltz, Rosanna Arquette, Christopher Walken, and Bruce Willis.
The film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival on May 21, 1994. It was released in the United States on October 14, 1994 by Miramax Films.
Pulp Fiction's narrative is told out of chronological order, and follows three main interrelated stories: Mob contract killer Vincent Vega is the protagonist of the first story, prizefighter Butch Coolidge is the protagonist of the second, and Vincent's partner Jules Winnfield is the protagonist of the third.
The film begins with a diner hold-up staged by a couple, then moves to the stories of Vincent, Jules, and Butch. It finally returns to where it began, in the diner. There are a total of seven narrative sequences; the three primary storylines are preceded by intertitles:
- "Prologue – The Diner" (i)
- Prelude to "Vincent Vega and Marsellus Wallace's Wife"
- "Vincent Vega and Marsellus Wallace's Wife"
- Prelude to "The Gold Watch" (a – flashback, b – present)
- "The Gold Watch"
- "The Bonnie Situation"
- "Epilogue – The Diner" (ii)
If the seven sequences were ordered chronologically, they would run: 4a, 2, 6, 1, 7, 4b, 3, 5. Sequences 1 and 7 partially overlap and are presented from different points of view, as do sequences 2 and 6. According to Philip Parker, the structural form is "an episodic narrative with circular events adding a beginning and end and allowing references to elements of each separate episode to be made throughout the narrative". Other analysts describe the structure as a "circular narrative".
Hitmen Jules Winnfield and Vincent Vega arrive at an apartment to retrieve a briefcase for their boss, gangster Marsellus Wallace, from an associate, Brett. After Vincent checks the contents of the briefcase, Jules shoots one of Brett's associates, then declaims a passage from the Bible before he and Vincent kill Brett for trying to double-cross Marsellus. They take the briefcase to Marsellus, but have to wait while he bribes champion boxer Butch Coolidge to take a dive in his upcoming match.
The next day, Vincent purchases heroin from his drug dealer, Lance. He shoots up, then drives to meet Marsellus's wife Mia, whom he had agreed to escort while Marsellus was out of town. They eat at a 1950s-themed restaurant and participate in a twist contest, then return home with the trophy. While Vincent is in the bathroom, Mia finds his heroin, mistakes it for cocaine, snorts it, and overdoses. Vincent rushes her to Lance's house, where they revive her with an adrenaline shot to her heart.
Butch double-crosses Marsellus and wins the bout, accidentally killing his opponent. At the motel where he and his girlfriend Fabienne are lying low and preparing to flee, Butch discovers she has forgotten to pack his father's gold watch, a beloved heirloom, and flies into a rage. Returning to his apartment to retrieve the watch, he notices a suppressed Ingram on the kitchen counter and hears the toilet flush. Vincent exits the bathroom and Butch shoots him dead leaving the gun inside.
As Butch waits at a traffic light in his car, Marsellus spots him by chance crossing the road and chases him into a pawnshop. The owner, Maynard, captures them at gunpoint and ties them up in the basement. Maynard is joined by Zed, a security guard; they take Marsellus to another room to rape him, leaving the "gimp", a silent figure in a bondage suit, to watch Butch. Butch breaks loose and knocks out the gimp. He is about to flee but decides to save Marsellus, returning with a katana from the pawnshop. He kills Maynard; Marsellus retrieves Maynard's shotgun and shoots Zed. Marsellus informs Butch that they are even, as long as he tells no one about the rape and departs Los Angeles forever. Butch picks up Fabienne on Zed's chopper and they drive away.
Earlier, after Vincent and Jules have executed Brett in his apartment, another man bursts out of the bathroom and shoots at them wildly, missing every time; Jules and Vincent kill him. Jules professes their survival was a miracle, which Vincent disputes. As Jules drives, Vincent accidentally shoots Brett's associate Marvin in the head. They hide the car at the home of Jules' friend Jimmie, who demands they deal with the problem before his wife comes home. Marsellus sends his cleaner, Winston Wolfe, who directs Jules and Vincent to clean the car, hide the body in the trunk, dispose of their bloody clothes, and take the car to a junk yard.
At a diner, Jules tells Vincent that he plans to retire from his life of crime, convinced that their "miraculous" survival at the apartment was a sign. While Vincent is in the bathroom, a couple dubbed "Pumpkin" and "Honey Bunny" hold up the restaurant. Jules overpowers Pumpkin and holds him at gunpoint; Honey Bunny becomes hysterical and trains her gun on him. Vincent returns with his gun aimed at her, creating a Mexican standoff. Jules recites the biblical passage, expresses ambivalence about his life of crime, and allows the robbers to take his cash and leave. Jules and Vincent leave the diner with the briefcase.
Vincent Vega is one of the major parts of the motion picture of Pulp Fiction. He works as a hitman and associate of Marsellus Wallace.
The gun Vincent uses is a 1911A1 Auto Ordnance .45 ACP pistol that has been chromed and given pearl grips.
He is the brother of Vic Vega from Reservoir Dogs.
Bad things always seem to happen when he is in the restroom:
- While Vincent is in the bathroom worrying about the possibility of going too far with Marsellus's wife, Mia Wallace mistakes his heroin for cocaine, snorts it, and overdoses.
- During a stakeout at Butch’s apartment, Vincent emerges from the toilet with his book and is killed by Butch.
- Vincent and Jules’s diner breakfast and philosophical conversation is ended when Pumpkin and Honey Bunny hold up the diner while Vincent is reading on the toilet.
Jules Winnfield is the supporting character in this hit movie.
In Pulp Fiction, Jules is a character who, in progression of the film, change his personality in the film. At first, he seems like a flawless hitman who just does his job and says bible quotes that seem cold-blooded. But on the other half of him he shows his nice side by giving criminals the chance to buck up and go home. Jules then explains to Vincent (His partner) that hes doing his last job before he "walks the earth". Meaning retirment, but Vincent trys to convince to stay otherwise he would eventually lose money and become a "bum", in other words a tramp.
Jules famous bible quote is a follows:
"The path of the righteous man is beset on all sides by the inequities of the selfish and the tyranny of evil men. Blessed is he who, in the name of charity and good will, shepherds the weak through the valley of darkness, for he is truly his brother's keeper and the finder of lost children. And I will strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger those who attempt to poison and destroy my brothers. And you will know my name is the Lord when I lay my vengeance upon thee."
Mia Wallace is the new wife of Marsellus Wallace. She likes Urge Overkill and Dusty Springfield and is an addict to cocaine. At Marsellus' request, Vincent Vega shows his wife Mia a good time while Marsellus is in Florida. He shows up at Mia's house and while waiting for her to get ready, she plays a classic song on the sound system. The song was the hit "Son of a Preacher Man", by Dusty Springfield. They head to the Jack Rabbit Slim's, a slick 1950s-themed restaurant with lookalikes of the decade's top pop culture icons as staff, an option for patrons to eat at a booth or a classic car refitted as a booth, and the famous "Five-Dollar Milkshake".
Vincent and Mia make small talk, wherein she recounts her experience as an actress in a failed television pilot, "Fox Force Five". Mia played "Raven McCoy", who was raised by circus performers and was "...the deadliest woman in the world with a knife." She also knew a "zillion" old jokes her grandfather, an old vaudevillian, taught her, though she refuses to share with Vincent the joke Raven tells in the pilot out of fear of being embarrassed.
Mia then demands that Vincent dance with her in the twist contest and they dance to Chuck Berry's "You Never Can Tell".
When they return to the Wallace house, she is seen carrying the trophy. While listening to Urge Overkill's version of Neil Diamond's "Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon", Mia overdoses after snorting heroin, that she finds in Vince's coat pocket, which she was wearing, believing it to be cocaine. A fearful Vincent tries to save her life with the aid of Lance, his small-time drug dealer who had previously sold him the heroin. Mia is finally revived after Vincent, stabs her in the heart with a syringe full of adrenaline.
Mia wakes up with a howl and when asked to say something, says "something". The Jody remarks "That was Fuckin' trippy".
Upon arriving back at the Wallace residence, Mia finally reveals her corny joke: "So there's Papa Tomato, Momma Tomato and Baby Tomato walking along the street. Baby Tomato starts lagging behind, and Papa Tomato starts getting really angry. So, he turns around and squishes Baby Tomato and says, 'Ketchup.' (Catch Up) "
In their last conversation, they agree not to tell Marcellus of the overdosing incident, both fearing what he might do to either of them. In this, they both "redeem" each other.
Butch (Bruce Willis) was born in Tennessee, and lost his father in the Vietnam War. One of his earliest memories was of receiving his father's gold watch from one of the elder Coolidge's Air Force buddies, Captain Koons, who told him to always treasure it, as his father had suffered greatly to keep it safe for his son. Butch smokes Red Apples without filters.
As an adult, he settles in Los Angeles. He is a tough southpaw boxer, but is nearing the end of his career, and is coerced into taking a bribe from mob boss Marsellus Wallace to throw the fight with Floyd Wilson. There he is baited by Vincent Vega.
Butch has accepted the bribe, but he double crosses Wallace; he said Scottie to bet the money on himself, presumably to very good odds, and proceeds to win the fight. Having arranged his escape with taxi driver Esmarelda VillaLobos, he learned from her that Wilson succumbed to his wounds after the fight.
He hides out with his girlfriend, Fabienne, in a motel planning to leave the next morning for Tennessee to collect his money. When Fabienne forgets his father's watch while transferring their goods from their apartment to their motel, Butch storms to his apartment to retrieve it. There, he comes face-to-face with Vega for the second and final time. Vega insulted Butch the first time they met, and Butch gets his revenge by killing Vega. He then flees with his watch, but happens upon Wallace on his way back to Butch's house. Panicked, he runs Wallace over, and flees into a nearby pawn shop, where he and the mob boss get into a brutal fight. The pawn shop's owner stops the fight, pulling a gun on Butch, and knocks Butch unconscious with the butt as Wallace passes out on the floor.
The pawn shop's owner, Maynard, calls his friend Zed over to the shop; the two turn out to be serial killers who get sadistic pleasure out of raping and murdering men. They kidnap Butch and Wallace, and take the latter into their back room to brutalize him. Butch escapes, but is overcome with pity as he hears Wallace's screams of pain, and goes back to save him, armed with a katana sword. Butch kills Maynard, and allows Wallace to shoot Zed in the groin, grievously wounding him. Wallace then calls off the contract on Butch's life, as long as he leaves L.A. and doesn't come back. Butch and Fabienne flee to Tennessee on Zed's chopper.
Vic Vega, AKA "Toothpick Vic" or "Mr. Blonde", is Vincent Vega's dead brother. He is not in Pulp Fiction, but in Reservoir Dogs, another Tarantino-movie. Like Richard Gekko is the mad man of the Gekko brothers, Vic is the madman of the Vega brothers.
Vega was a recently paroled career criminal hired by a gangster named Joe Cabot to perform a jewelry heist with a team of professional thieves. During the robbery, he makes good on a threat to massacre the entire store after the alarm had been tripped, forcing the team to flee to the designated safehouse. He takes police officer Marvin Nash hostage as he escapes. At the safehouse, he gets into a confrontation with fellow robbers Mr. White and Mr. Pink over whether or not to help their compatriot Mr. Orange, who has been badly wounded.
While his teammates go to dispose of some stolen cars, he tortures Nash, cutting his ear off and threatening to set him on fire! As he is about to kill his victim, however, Mr. Orange shoots him several times in the chest, killing him.
Vega is described as a psychopath. He takes clear, sadistic pleasure in torturing Nash, which he does even after having told Nash that he does not care whether he speaks or not. It is implied that he has killed several people throughout his career.
- Vega is a playable character in the video game adaptation of Reservoir Dogs. He is voiced by Madsen, and is the only character to feature the original actor's voice and likeness.
- Ironically, the actor who played Vega, Michael Madsen, is averse to violence, and had a hard time shooting the torture film sequence. In a part of the scene where Officer Nash pleads for his life by saying he has a child at home, the line was ad-libbed; Madsen himself had just become a father at that time, and was so horrified that he had to stop the scene.
- Tarantino wanted Madsen to play Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction, but eventually cast John Travolta and decided that the two were brothers. He planned to make a film that starred both characters, The Vega Brothers, but the project has now been abandoned.
- Miramax favored Holly Hunter or Meg Ryan for the role. Alfre Woodard and Meg Tilly were also considered, but Tarantino wanted Thurman after their first meeting. "Mia" dominated most of the film's promotional material, appearing on a bed with cigarette in hand. She was nominated for the Best Supporting Actress Oscar and was launched into the celebrity A-list.
- Isabella Rossellini, Meg Ryan, Daryl Hannah, Joan Cusack, and Michelle Pfeiffer where all interviewed for the role of Mia Wallace. Out of all of them Quentin Tarantino said he preferred Michelle Pfeiffer the most. Uma Thurman originally turned down the role of Mia Wallace. Quentin Tarantino was so desperate to have her as Mia, he ended up reading her the script over the phone, finally convincing her to take on the role.
- Tarantino has noted that he first thought of the premise and main character (The Bride) of Kill Bill during the writing and filming of Mia's final scene. The "Fox Force Five" bears a striking resemblance to the "DiVAS" of Kill Bill.
- The look of Mia was modeled after Anna Karina in Bande à part (1964). Also, her looks and personality recalls Elvira (Michelle Pfeiffer) in Brian DePalma's Scarface (1983): Both do coke and go on a date with her husband's associate.
- Thurman based her dance scene on the character Dutchess in The Aristocats (1970).
- In a cut scene Mia claims that everyone can be classified as either an Elvis person or a "Beatles" person. She bets Vincent that he is an "Elvis", and he confirms it.
- John Travolta has said that some of the dance moves between himself and Uma Thurman in the Jack Rabbit Slim's scene were based on Adam West's "Batoosie" dance from the 60s Batman TV show episode: Hi Diddle Riddle.