Interpretive analysis of Pulp Fiction

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Pulp fiction is a 1994 a black comedy crime film that was written and directed by Quentin Tarantino a renowned director, actor, and writer in America. His films have won many awards, and he has also been named among the world’s top 100 most influential people. He uses different styles in the production of his movies for example; he uses satirical subject matter, nonlinear storylines, extended scenes of dialogue between characters and aestheticization of violence. The essay will explore how Quentin Tarantino’s Pulp Fiction deploys alternative plot and stylistic structures to reconfigure the elements of classical Hollywood narrative and its visual style.

To begin the classical Hollywood narrative has a clear set-up, conflict and resolution, which allow audiences to get absorbed in the story as they identify with the main character and forget they are watching a movie. Pulp Fiction, however, deploys alternative plot structures to organize its narrative. Indeed, the movie reorganizes its narrative into an episodic one, with multiple narrative threads and characters demanding a different engagement from the audience. Instead of getting fully immersed in the film’s world, this kind of active engagement tends to make the audience aware that they are watching a film and think about its narrative and visual styles as well as their effects. In this film “pulp fiction,” Quentin uses extended scenes of dialogue between characters that portrays the life of a small gang in Los Angeles (Bertelsen 89). He uses this film to bring out the real life of mobs that, even though they are involved in crime-related activities, they are still ordinary people and this realization is what creates the relationship between the audience and the characters in the movie. The film is characterized by lots of violence although it also contains some humor that is created by the characters view of the crimes they commit. Thus he uses comic illustrations to diffuse the suspense of the crime thriller. For example, when the movie starts, we have an English couple who have been employed in this fiction to bring out the human relationship especially the other character that couples or people tend to have. They plan to carry out a robbery in a coffee shop. They have a lengthy discussion on why should it be a coffee shop and not a liquor store or a gas station.  The viewer is given the freedom to mainly pay attention in such segments in a work of fiction and give his interpretation. For example, the above illustration is used to depict how healthy couples can argue on little and useless issues that may end up causing more harm than good.

Quentin creates this film to portray the real life experiences that occur within the black urban areas that are defined by violence. He uses blurred images as the representation of race and youth violence. Teens are involved in acts of violence as a sense of belonging to a particular group or sect. They want to be associated with acts of rebelliousness since they involve themselves in violence outside the theater after the movies. Most of these traits were influenced by the films they watched, for example, Boys N the Hood (1991), Juice (1992) that attracted lots of media coverage and also had a significant influence on the youths and this is what Quentin tries to bring out in “Pulp Fiction.” He also uses Hollywood effects to express his interesting racist comments. The use of great dialogues also helps us get some other facts about different characters, and this style makes us pay attention to each conversation that takes place since it helps in the prediction of future events from the movie (Jenkins 67). For example, the dialogue between two characters Julian and Vincent about Vincent’s trip to Amsterdam, the legalization of marijuana and Vincent having to take care of his boss’s wife help us identify the character trait of Marcellus Wallace.

Tarantino tries to create a film that relates to the youth by offering a platform whereby they can comfortably associate themselves. He brings this out by portraying the males as generally coded species which is well framed with a mystic gangster look and thus looks appealing to the spectator’s gaze. On the other hand, he portrays females as being harmless and is often involved in innocent acts. Mia plays her role in well calculated and composed traits thus a submissive and obedient lady as she brings out the character of women that Quentin tries to bring out. Mia’s dress code during her date with Vincent implies that she is a part of the gang since the dress code also symbolized defiance, keep in mind that she is the boss’s wife. He uses this feature as a way of undermining social conventions and making his audiences think critically and assess their personal, social and moral values (Collins and Dyson 90).

Apart from the long dialogues between characters that Quentin uses in the film, we also have great settings that have been used to communicate and capture the viewer’s attention which is very significant. For example, when we look at the setting of Mia’s house and the restaurant that she and Vincent go for their date, there is a lot of non-verbal cues that lay in the aura that is; the dialogue that transpires between them and the music that plays in the background. When we get to this part of the film, the viewer is very curious in every section because we know that the two (Vincent and Mia) are both intoxicated with drugs and their body language and dialogue express their needs, yet Vincent is controlling himself because she is the boss’s wife who is not to be touched. There is lots of anticipation and anxiety as this scene is being enacted.

In this scene, Quentin uses lots of ironies as Mia takes the position of a “controller” as she dominates over Vincent’s movements through the camcorder and the intercom. Symbolically, Mia is said to be on top since she is the one in control, but in reality, she is still on top because she is standing on the stairs watching Vincent’s movement. She also uses her body language and lots of casualness as she communicates with Vincent although she is under the influence of heroin (Gaines 56).

Quentin brings a touch of post-modernism in this scene. We find that when Vincent and Mia get into the restaurant and Mia hesitates to get in since she terms it as not her place. She expresses this by drawing a square using her hands, and its reflection that appears on the screen.  From the above examples, we find that Quentin tries to capture the viewers’ attention by using the current trends among the youths that result to violence and the effects that they have in their lives. It captures an audience’s attention, and thus one can reflect and choose the direction he or she wants in life.

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  1. Bertelsen, E. ““Serious Gourmet Shit”: Quentin Tarantino’ sPulp Fiction.” Journal of Literary Studies, vol. 15, no. 1-2, 1999, pp. 8-32, doi:10.1080/02564719908530214.
  2. Collins, P. H., and M. E. Dyson. “Reflecting Black: African-American Cultural Criticism.” Contemporary Sociology, vol. 23, no. 4, 1994, p. 607, doi:10.2307/2076438.
  3. Gaines, J. M. “Introduction.” Classical Hollywood Narrative, 2012, pp. 1-8, doi:10.1215/9780822396345-001.
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