21 years after its release, a worn out soundtrack of 16 unforgettable dialogues and tunes later, and after watching it for the I-don’t-know-which time, Pulp Fiction still intrigues, mesmerizes, and excites me. It’s not just that Tarantino cleverly establishes himself as more than a name by actually playing in his own films, it’s that he does it in such a non-invasive way that augments the film, making it just another means to mixing reality with fiction. In its sharp wit, sweeping rhythm, violent beauty, coarse but oh so elegant discourse, the narrative maze that both kills and resurrects John Travolta, and the delicateness of the interplay between reality and trans, are just an ounce of what makes this movie so great.
The stories are told in a nonlinear way, starting and ending at the same location but only after gaining a new perspective on life. Vincent Vega (John Travolta) is a clumsy hit man who works for a mob boss, Marsellus Wallace (Ving Rhames). Vincent and Jules Winnfield (born for the part Samuel L. Jackson) are sent to retrieve a briefcase of mysterious and hypnotizing content, and in the process Jules experiences what can only be described as an epiphany. The movie follows Vincent on his sexually charged (non)date with Mia Wallace (Uma Thurman), which takes a rather unexpected turn. The film’s intricate relationships are delicate yet clear, one of which involves Butch (Bruce Willis), a boxer who got payed by Marcellus to throw his next game. Butch does not hold his end of the deal and escapes Marcellus, but a profound obligation to his father’s gold watch brings the two together in a surreal setting.
Just like in life, it’s the little things that matter the most. The supporting characters are just as important to this film as the main characters. Starting from Yolanda and Ringo that tie the film’s first and last scene together, through the omnipotent Wolf whose light touch saves the day, and ending with the beautifully naïve Fabienne, without which we would never have had dead Zed’s motorcycle.
The film is definitely more than an eclectic collection of characters and brilliant cinematography. Its depth lies in the sophisticated and complex power relationships. The powerful Marcellus ends up in the hands of Butch, whom he held in his awe just a few scenes back; Mia’s charm and graceful dancing turns into an addict’s mess; but most importantly, Jules, with his clever quotes from the bible, leaves the film in shorts and a T-shirt, and with a completely new life philosophy. Tarantino proves once again how touching violence can be and how insightful the little moments of our lives are. The pure violent truth of our reality mixed with unreal events is what makes this film so great, so unforgettable, and so one of a kind.